A major star of the early silent era, blonde Kathlyn Williams is best-remembered for playing Cherry Malotte in the first, and by all accounts best, screen version of Rex Beach's The Spoilers (1914) and for starring in the seminal action serial The Adventures of Kathlyn (1913). The first chapterplay with holdover action, Adventures was but one in a number of melodramas teaming the apparently fearless actress with the Selig Polyscope Company's famous stable of wild animals (the nucleus for what would later become the Los Angeles Zoo). A professional actress since childhood, Williams had been a member of the famous Belasco Stock Company and had appeared with Willard Mack prior to making her screen debut for D.W. Griffith at the old Biograph studios in 1909. She didn't remain for long with Biograph, however, defecting to the Chicago-based Selig Polyscope Company in June 1910.
Relocated to Los Angeles, Williams went on to become Selig's top female star and, following the 1913 release of The Adventures of Kathlyn, one of the nation's great screen icons. At one point, Williams had both a waltz and a clothing line named after her and she proved her worth to the company once again by exhibiting a hitherto uncharted thespian talent as the free-spirited dancehall girl Cherry Malotte in The Spoilers. William Farnum and Thomas Santschi may have had their much-publicized brawl but Williams added her own unique brand of frontier gusto to the proceedings
Williams remained with Selig until the company's declining days, when she left to star for various Paramount companies, with the era's great matinee idol Wallace Reid as her frequent co-star. By the 1920s, however, she had visibly aged, causing speculation that she may well have been much older that her publicized age. She gracefully accepted supporting roles throughout the decade and can be seen in such Roaring Twenties classics as Our Dancing Daughters (1928), in which she plays Anita Page's society mother. Socially prominent, she retired after only a handful of talkies, including a brief stint as Warner Baxter's sister-in-law in Daddy Long Legs (1931). There were talks of comebacks but none emerged and she suffered the loss of a leg in a car accident in 1949, spending her remaining years bound to a wheelchair. Williams, whose death in 1960 was ascribed to a massive heart attack, often reminisced that the dangers she faced in her early silent action melodramas were due more to natural causes than injuries inflicted by her numerous animal co-stars.