Cara Williams is a film and TV actress who was born in Flatbush, Brooklyn, as Bernice Kamiat. Williams’ father, Benjamin Kamiat, was a well-known journalist in Brooklyn, working for the Brooklyn Eagle, and her mother, Florence Kamiat, was a manicurist. Williams is Jewish by birth. Unlike her mother, who was born in
, her father was an Austrian immigrant, but her maternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Romania. Cara Williams and Oscar-winning actress, Susan Hayward, grew up in the same neighbourhood.
Williams’ mother was a manicurist, working in a parlour near Brooklyn’s Albee Theatre, and to babysit little Cara, she used to leave her with the theatre’s owners. As a result, Williams grew up watching movies and used to mimic all the actors she watched. Hence, Cara Williams, the actress, was born. After her parent’s divorced, she moved to Los Angeles with her mother. In Los Angeles, she got enrolled in the Hollywood Professional School and took up the stage name, Cara Williams. At a teenager, she started performing on radio and took up minor film roles.
After a lot of uncredited performances, Williams’ first credited role came in the year 1941, in the movie, Wide Open Town. In 1942, she appeared in the Charles F. Haas directed teenage drama, Girls Town. The following year, in 1943, Williams appeared in Irving Pichel’s, Happy Land, starring Don Ameche. She had an uncredited role in 1944, in the Oscar-nominated musical, Sweet and Low-Down, directed by Archie Mayo. The same year, Williams appeared as a secretary in Otto Preminger’s classic noir, ‘Laura’. The film garnered positive reviews from critics, went on to win an Academy Award, was named one of the 10 best mystery films of all time by American Film Institute, and in 1999, was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the United States Film Registry. Williams again teamed up with director Otto Preminger, for the 1944 war drama, In the Meantime, Darling.
In 1945, Williams took a break from her acting career and married Alan Gray. She gave birth to her daughter, Cathy.
Williams played a supporting role in the 1947 film, ‘Boomerang!’ directed by Elia Kazan. The film was based on a true story of a man accused of murder, but later proved innocent by his prosecutor. The film entered into the 1947 Cannes Film Festival, and also got nominated for an Oscar. She had an uncredited performance in the Oscar-nominated film, Sitting Pretty. In 1948, she appeared in The Saxon Charm, directed by Claude Binyon, also starring Susan Hayward. The same year, Williams appeared in Nicholas Ray’s court-room trial, Knock on Any Door, with
as the lead. The film got mixed reviews from critics.
From 1950-1952, Williams mostly appeared on television, but played supporting roles in a few films such as, The Girl Next Door, Monte Carlo Baby and The Great Diamond Robbery. After her divorce with Alan Gray in 1947, she took some time off till 1954, and then married John Drew Barrymore. She also gave birth to their son.
In 1956, Williams appeared and performed a song in Meet Me in
. The song performed by her was titled, I Refuse to Rock n Roll, and it was loved by critics and audiences, alike. She appeared in the 1957 release, The Helen Morgan Story, in a supporting role alongside Ann Blyth and Paul Newman.
Her role as Billy’s Mother in the 1958 film, The Defiant Ones, got her nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actress. The film itself got nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. In 1959, she appeared in James Cagney’s musical comedy, Never Steal Anything Small.
From 1956 to 1960, Williams performed in four episodes of the series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It was followed by the lead role in CBS’ Pete and Gladys, a television comedy, opposite
. Her performance got her an Emmy Award nomination in the category of Best Lead Actress in a comedy.
Williams got casted opposite Danny Kaye in the 1963 comedy film, The Man from the Dine’s Club. In 1964, Williams launched her one season series, The Cara Williams Show. The show is ranked 8.3 on a scale of 10 on the Internet Movie Database.
Williams started taking fewer roles in the 1970s. In 1971, she appeared in Doctors’ Wives, as a supporting role. She made a guest appearance on the TV series, ‘Rhoda’, in 1975, playing the character of Mae. In 1977, Williams appeared on TV for the last time, in an episode of ‘
In 1978, Williams appeared in her last film, The One Man Jury, directed and written by Charles Martin. The film got lukewarm response from the box office.
Currently, Williams lives in Los Angeles with her husband Asher Dann, and works as an interior designer.