O'Donnell in 1959
July 6, 1923
Siluria, Alabama, US
|Died||April 11, 1970
Los Angeles, California, US
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale|
|Alma mater||Oklahoma City University|
|Spouse(s)||Robert Wyler (1948–70; her death)|
Cathy O'Donnell (July 6, 1923 – April 11, 1970) was an American actress, best remembered for her roles in films-noir.
She was born Ann Steely in Siluria in Shelby County in central Alabama. She attended Oklahoma City University and studied drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before beginning her career on stage, followed by motion pictures.
While under contract with Samuel Goldwyn, O'Donnell made her début in an uncredited role as a nightclub extra in Wonder Man (1945). Her first major role in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), playing Wilma Cameron, the high-school sweetheart of double amputatee Homer Parrish, played by real-life World War II veteran/amputee Harold Russell.
She was loaned out to RKO for one of her most memorable films, They Live by Night (1949) starring with Farley Granger, widely considered a classic of the noir genre and on the Guardian's list of the top ten noir films. The film was directed by Nicholas Ray. The two actors later re-teamed for another film, Side Street (1950).
Later O'Donnell starred in The Miniver Story (also 1950), as Judy Miniver and also had a supporting role in Detective Story (1951). She appeared as Barbara Waggoman, the love interest of James Stewart's character in the western The Man from Laramie (1955). Her final film role was the title character's sister Tirzah in William Wyler's 1959 Academy Award winning Best Picture Ben-Hur (1959).
In the 1960s, she appeared in TV shows, playing mostly bit parts on shows such as Perry Mason, The Rebel and Man Without a Gun. Her last screen appearance was in 1964, in an episode of Bonanza.
Personal life and death
On April 11, 1948, at 24 years old, she married 47-year-old Robert Wyler, the elder brother of film director William Wyler who later directed her in Detective Story and Ben-Hur. At the age of 46, O'Donnell died of a cancer-related cerebral hemorrhage, on her 22nd wedding anniversary. She is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.
|1945||Wonder Man||H. Bruce Humberstone||Nightclub Extra||Uncredited|
|1946||The Best Years of Our Lives||William Wyler||Wilma Cameron|
|1947||Bury Me Dead||Bernard Vorhaus||Rusty|
|1948||The Amazing Mr. X||Bernard Vorhaus||Janet Burke|
|1948||They Live By Night||Nicholas Ray||Catherine "Keechie" Mobley|
|1950||Side Street||Anthony Mann||Ellen Norson|
|1950||The Miniver Story||H.C. Potter||Judy Miniver|
|1951||Never Trust A Gambler||Ralph Murphy||Virginia Merrill|
|1951||Detective Story||William Wyler||Susan Carmichael|
|1952||The Woman's Angle||Leslie Arliss||Nina Van Rhyne|
|1954||Eight O'Clock Walk||Lance Comfort||Jill Manning|
|1954||Loves of Three Queens||Edgar G. Ulmer||Enone||(segment: The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships)|
|1955||Mad at the World||Harry Essex||Anne Bennett|
|1955||The Man from Laramie||Anthony Mann||Barbara Waggoman|
|1957||The Deerslayer||Kurt Neumann||Judith Hutter|
|1957||The Story of Mankind||Irwin Allen||Early Christian Woman|
|1958||My World Dies Screaming
(retitled Terror in the Haunted House)
|Harold Daniels||Sheila Wayne Tierney|
|1951||Lights Out||To See Ourselves|
|1952||Orient Express||13th Spy||Francine Gilman|
|1954||The Philip Morris Playhouse||Up for Parole|
|1954||Center Stage||Chivalry at Howling Creek|
|1955||The Best of Broadway||The Best of Broadway||Amy Fisher|
|1955||Climax!||Flight 951||Mona Herbert|
|1956||Matinee Theater||Greybeards and Witches||Velna|
|1958||Zane Grey Theater||Sundown at Bitter Creek||Jennie Parsons|
|1958||The Californians||Skeleton in the Closet||Grace Adams|
|1959||Man Without a Gun||Accused|
|1960||The Detectives||The Trap||Laurie Dolan|
|1960||The Rebel||You Steal My Eyes||Prudence Gant|
|1960||Tate||Quiet After the Storm||Amy|
|1960||The Rebel||The Hope Chest||Felicity Bowman|
|1961||Perry Mason||The Case of the Fickle Fortune||Norma Brooks|
|1964||Bonanza||The Lila Conrad Story||Sarah Knowles||(Last appearance)|
- David M. Story (June 2012). "Dream a Little Dream". Slice. Retrieved 2015-07-10.