|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (July 2014)|
Cary was born Claiborne Leachman in Lone Tree, Iowa, and raised in Des Moines. The younger sister of actress Cloris Leachman, Cary began dancing and performing at a young age. She attended both the University of Iowa and Northwestern University before moving to New York City to pursue an acting career.
Cary made her Broadway theater debut in Silk Stockings in 1956, later touring with the production's national tour with actor, Don Ameche. In 1957, she starred in The New Girl in Town at the Rialto Theater on Broadway. Her many other Broadway credits included Hellzapoppin '67, The Supporting Cast, and the production of Beg, Borrow or Steal (opposite Betty Garrett and Eddie Bracken). Her Off Broadway resume included roles in Kukla, Burr and Ollie, Smiling, the Boy Fell Dead, Faith, Hope and Charity and All Kinds of Giants.
She also appeared in television, including Law & Order, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Young Dr. Kildare. She appeared in numerous television commercials. She began, however, to focus more on cabaret productions and regional theater following the birth of her son, Berkeley Northrop. Within cabaret, she starred in and produced Grand Slam with Murray Grand. She also toured with the stage adaptation of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Her lengthy regional theater credits included Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, in which she appeared in Long Beach, California, with Charles Durning and Tyne Daly. She recorded and released two albums on CD, Miss Claiborne Cary Live and Now and Then. Her last public performance was in a cabaret in the early 2000s.
She died from complications of Parkinson's disease in Costa Mesa, California, on March 20, 2010, aged 78. Aside from her sisters, nephews and nieces, she was survived by her son and two granddaughters.
- Dore, Shalini (2010-03-29). "Claiborne Cary dies at 78, Actress was also a cabaret performer". Variety Magazine. Retrieved 2010-04-02.