Clara Williams

Active - 1910 - 1917  |   Born - May 3, 1888   |   Died - May 8, 1928   |   Genres - Drama, Western

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Biography by Hans J. Wollstein

Her lack of conventional beauty much commented upon by modern scholars of silent Western star William S. Hart, Clara Williams was actually fairly representative of early screen heroines, who survived mainly on their wits and a willingness to try anything at least once. Williams came to the burgeoning film industry in 1912 after a stint in vaudeville. She starred for Lubin (with another early cowboy star, Edgar Jones) and Selig before finding fame opposite Hart in no less than five of his early Westerns, including the classic Hell's Hinges. As the sister of a wayward reverend, Williams seeks help from Hart, a hardened gunslinger whom she manages to reform. The story was typical Hart -- uncompromisingly grim, dusty, and realistic in setting if not sentiment. And unlike the many starlets-turned-prairie flowers that would follow, Williams offered at least a somewhat authentic example of frontier womanhood. She appeared in her final film in 1918 and died ten years later from the effects of an operation.