The product of a broken home, Cara Williams was still a preteen when she was taken by her mother from her hometown of Brooklyn to Los Angeles. Williams' first professional acting job was supplying vocal impressions of famous movie stars for animated cartoons. At 17, Williams was signed to a 20th Century Fox contract, but few of her subsequent film roles were large enough to attract notice. Her fortunes improved when she replaced Judy Holliday in the Broadway production of Born Yesterday (1950); thereafter, her film and TV roles increased in size and prominence. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of a sex-starved farm woman in The Defiant Ones (1958). By virtue of her flaming red hair and acute comic timing, Williams was touted as "the new Lucille Ball" on the CBS sitcoms Pete and Gladys (1961) and The Cara Williams Show (1964). Her TV efforts were not particularly popular, but she had a powerful ally in the form of actor/producer Keefe Brasselle -- who was the best friend of CBS programming head James Aubrey. When Brasselle fell out of favor and Aubrey's regime toppled, Williams' stardom diminished. She went on to play character roles on-stage and in films, and was briefly a regular on the late-'70s TV series Rhoda. From 1952 through 1959, Cara Williams was the wife of actor John Barrymore Jr., by whom she had a son.