Cara Williams,The Defiant Ones star and one of last actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, dies at 96


Cara Williams, star of The Defiant Ones and one of last remaining actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, dies at 96

  • The actress was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in 1958’s The Defiant Ones as she enjoyed a long acting career which spanned over four decades from 1941 to 1982
  • Williams’ death was confirmed by her daughter Justine Jagoda and great-nephew Richard Potter 
  • Williams was born Bernice Kamiat in Brooklyn, New York to Romanian Jewish immigrant parents 
  • In the early 1950s, she took time off from her acting career as she married John Drew Barrymore and gave birth to their son John Blyth Barrymore in 1954 
  • Her most famous role of all came in 1958 as she starred as Billy’s mother in The Defiant Ones as she was nominated for an Oscar 
  • Perhaps her most famous television role came later as she had a titular role in CBS comedy series Pete And Gladys from 1960 to 1962 alongside Harry Morgan
  • She was even Emmy Award nominated in the Best Lead Actress in a Comedy category










One of the last remaining actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Cara Williams, has passed away at the age of 96.

The actress was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in 1958’s The Defiant Ones as she enjoyed a long acting career which spanned over four decades from 1941 to 1982.

She was one of the few thespians left from Hollywood’s Golden Age which was an era between the 1910s and 1960s  as the narrative and visual style became characteristic of American cinema and became the most powerful and pervasive style of filmmaking worldwide.

Williams’ death was confirmed by her daughter Justine Jagoda and great-nephew Richard Potter.

Tragic: One of the last remaining actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age, Cara Williams (seen in 1948), has passed away at the age of 96

Tragic: One of the last remaining actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Cara Williams (seen in 1948), has passed away at the age of 96

Jagoda told Variety: ‘Not only was she a sparkling actress with impeccable comedic timing, she was also funny, over-the-top, warm-hearted and loving.

‘She could make anyone laugh and smile if they had a bad day. She was everything that you could wish for in a mother and more. It’s a sad loss to lose a woman from this incredible era.’

Potter took to Twitter to also confirm the news as he wrote: ‘My Great Aunt, who might have been the last surviving Golden Age of Hollywood actress died on Thursday at 96,” he wrote. “#Oscar & #Emmy Nominated. #CaraWilliams. RIP Cara.’

'Who might have been the last surviving Golden Age of Hollywood': Williams' death was confirmed by her daughter Justine Jagoda and great-nephew Richard Potter

‘Who might have been the last surviving Golden Age of Hollywood’: Williams’ death was confirmed by her daughter Justine Jagoda and great-nephew Richard Potter

Trailblazing: After relocating to Los Angeles with her mother, she chose Cara Williams as her stage name and attended the Hollywood Professional School, she is seen in 1952

Trailblazing: After relocating to Los Angeles with her mother, she chose Cara Williams as her stage name and attended the Hollywood Professional School, she is seen in 1952

Williams was born Bernice Kamiat in Brooklyn, New York to Romanian Jewish immigrant parents. 

After relocating to Los Angeles with her mother, she chose Cara Williams as her stage name and attended the Hollywood Professional School. 

Her first credited role was in a Western titled Wide Open Town which was released in 1941 and continued her acting career in the decade starring in dramas like Girls Town (1942) and Happy Land (1943).

Williams’ career began to blossom as she had supporting roles in Oscar-nominated films including Boomerang (1947) and uncredited role in Sitting Pretty (1948).

She started appearing routinely on television in the early 1950s as she had supporting roles in musicals The Girl Next Door (1953) and The Great Diamond Robbery (1954).

Former flame: In the early 1950s, she took time off from her acting career as she married John Drew Barrymore and gave birth to their son John Blyth Barrymore in 1954, as they are seen in 1951

Former flame: In the early 1950s, she took time off from her acting career as she married John Drew Barrymore and gave birth to their son John Blyth Barrymore in 1954, as they are seen in 1951

She also starred alongside Audrey Hepburn in a comedy titled Monte Carlo Baby (1951).

Around this time she took time off from her acting career as she married John Drew Barrymore and gave birth to their son John Blyth Barrymore in 1954.

Her most famous role of all came in 1958 as she starred as Billy’s mother in The Defiant Ones  which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and for which she was nominated for the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

 She went on to star in four episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents including: Decoy (1956), De Mortuis (1956), Last Request (1957), and The Cure (1960).

Interesting: She is seen alongside John Barrymore Jr.  in Date With The Angels in November 1957

Interesting: She is seen alongside John Barrymore Jr.  in Date With The Angels in November 1957 

Perhaps her most famous television role came later as she had a titular role in CBS comedy series Pete And Gladys from 1960 to 1962 alongside Harry Morgan and was even Emmy Award nominated in the Best Lead Actress in a Comedy category.

She later had her own prime time series in 1964 titled The Cara Williams Show which only lasted for one season.

Her acting appearances became less frequent in the 1970s as her last role was in television movie In Security in 1982.

After her retirement from acting she began a career as an interior designer.

Williams resided in Los Angeles and was married to real-estate entrepreneur and former actor Asher Dann, who was her third husband until his death in 2018. 



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Author: Shirley