|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (September 2009)|
Williams in 1960.
June 29, 1925 |
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Alan Gray (1945-1947; divorced; 1 child)
John Drew Barrymore (1952-1959; divorced; 1 child)
Asher Dann (?-present)
Williams was born Bernice Kamiat in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Flora (née Schwartz) and Benjamin Kamiat, Jewish immigrants from Romania and Lemberg, Austria-Hungary. She began her screen acting career in 1941, and was initially billed as Bernice Kay. Williams earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination in 1959 for her role in the film, The Defiant Ones.
She starred opposite Harry Morgan in the CBS situation comedy Pete and Gladys (1960–62), and earned an Emmy Award nomination in 1962 for Best Actress in a Series. She later had her own CBS sitcom, The Cara Williams Show (1964–65), with costars Frank Aletter, previously the star of Bringing Up Buddy on CBS, and Jack Sheldon, later star of the short-lived 1966 series, Run, Buddy, Run, also on CBS.
On the series, Williams and Aletter played Cara and Frank Bridges, a married couple who tried to keep their union secret because company police at Fenwick Diversified Industries, for which they both worked, forbade employees to marry within the company. Cara was known by her maiden name, Cara Wilton, at work, where she was a secretary with a filing system so complex that only she knew just where to find each exact file that was needed. This made her indispensable to her boss, Mr. Burkhardt (Paul Reed), so she could never lose her job.
The series was created by Keefe Brasselle's Richelieu Productions, along with two other programs that season, The Reporter starring Harry Guardino and Gary Merrill and Paul Ford's sitcom The Baileys of Balboa. All three series were ordered by CBS president James T. Aubrey without formal pilot episodes (he was a close friend of Brasselle's), and all were cancelled after Aubrey was fired from the network in February 1965.
In Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956) Williams played a redhaired dancer who performed a notable number, declaring she did not like rock 'n' roll. She played James Cagney's girlfriend in the musical comedy Never Steal Anything Small (1959) in which they sang a duet. Her television roles included guest appearances on four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. During the early-to-mid-1960s, CBS executives groomed Williams to be the next Lucille Ball, but these plans never materialized. After her show's demise, she guest-starred on other shows, including Rhoda.
Williams married Alan Gray in 1945; the union produced a child, but ended after two years. Williams then married John Drew Barrymore (later the father of Drew Barrymore) in 1952. They divorced in 1959. Their son, John Blyth Barrymore, is a former actor. She is currently married to her third husband, Los Angeles real estate entrepreneur Asher Dann.
- Happy Land (1943)
- In the Meantime, Darling (1944)
- Boomerang (1947)
- Monte Carlo Baby (1951)
- The Great Diamond Robbery (1953)
- Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956)
- The Helen Morgan Story (1957)
- The Defiant Ones (1958)
- Never Steal Anything Small (1959)
- The Man from the Diner's Club (1963)
- The White Buffalo (1977)
- The One Man Jury (1978)
- "Tv's new Lucy?". The Milwaukee Sentinel. September 25, 1960. Retrieved March 9, 2014.