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Cathy O'Donnell

Cathy O'Donnell
O'Donnell in 1959
Born Ann Steely
(1923-07-06)July 6, 1923
Siluria, Shelby County
Alabama, U.S.
Died April 11, 1970(1970-04-11) (aged 46)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Cerebral hemorrhage
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California
Alma mater Oklahoma City University
Occupation Actress
Years active 19451964
Spouse(s) Robert Wyler (1948–70; her death)

Cathy O'Donnell (July 6, 1923 – April 11, 1970) was an American actress, best known for her many roles in film-noir films.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life and death 3
  • Filmography 4
    • Films 4.1
    • Television 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

She was born Ann Steely in Siluria in Shelby County in central Alabama. She attended Oklahoma City University and studied drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before beginning her career on stage, followed by motion pictures.


In 1945 while under contract with Samuel Goldwyn, she made her debut in an uncredited role as a nightclub extra in Wonder Man. The next year she had her first major role in The Best Years of Our Lives, playing Wilma Cameron, the high-school sweetheart of double amputee Homer Parrish, played by real-life World War II veteran/amputee Harold Russell.

She was loaned out to RKO for one of her most memorable films, They Live by Night starring with Farley Granger, widely considered a classic of the noir genre and on the Guardian‍‍ '​‍s list of the top ten noir films. The film was directed by Nicholas Ray. The two actors later re-teamed in 1950, for another movie, Side Street.

Later O'Donnell starred in The Miniver Story, as Judy Miniver and also had a supporting role in Detective Story. She appeared as Barbara Waggoman, the love interest of James Stewart's character in the western The Man from Laramie. Her final film role was the title character's sister Tirzah in William Wyler's 1959 Academy Award winning Best Picture Ben-Hur.

In the 1960s, she appeared in TV shows, playing mostly bit parts on shows such as Perry Mason, The Rebel and Man Without a Gun. Her last screen appearance was in 1964, in an episode of Bonanza.

Personal life and death

On April 11, 1948 at 24 years old, she married 47-year-old Robert Wyler, the elder brother of film director William Wyler who later directed her in Ben-Hur. At the age of 46, O'Donnell died of a cancer-related cerebral hemorrhage, on the date of her 22nd wedding anniversary.[1]



Year Film Director Role
1959 Ben-Hur William Wyler Tirzah
1958 My World Dies Screaming

(retitled Terror in the Haunted House)

Harold Daniels Sheila Wayne Tierney
1957 The Story of Mankind Irwin Allen Early Christian Woman
1957 The Deerslayer Kurt Neumann Judith Hutter
1955 The Man from Laramie Anthony Mann Barbara Waggoman
1955 Mad at the World Harry Essex Anne Bennett
1954 Loves of Three Queens Edgar G. Ulmer Enone
1954 Eight O'Clock Walk Lance Comfort Jill Manning
1952 The Woman's Angle Leslie Arliss Nina Van Rhyne
1951 Detective Story William Wyler Susan Carmichael
1951 Never Trust A Gambler Ralph Murphy Virginia Merrill
1950 The Miniver Story H.C. Potter Judy Miniver
1950 Side Street Anthony Mann Ellen Norson
1948 They Live By Night Nicholas Ray Catherine "Keechie" Mobley
1948 The Amazing Mr. X Bernard Vorhaus Janet Burke
1947 Bury Me Dead Bernard Vorhaus Rusty
1946 The Best Years of Our Lives William Wyler Wilma Cameron
1945 Wonder Man H. Bruce Humberstone (Uncredited)


Year Show Episode Role
1964 Bonanza The Lila Conrad Story Sarah Knowles
1961 Sugarfoot Angel Angel
1961 Perry Mason The Case of the Fickle Fortune Norma Brooks
1960 The Rebel The Hope Chest Felicity Bowman
1960 Tate Quiet After the Storm Amy
1960 The Rebel You Steal My Eyes Prudence Gant
1960 The Detectives The Trap Laurie Dolan
1959 Man Without a Gun Accused
1958 The Californians Skeleton in the Closet Grace Adams
1958 Zane Grey Theater Sundown at Bitter Creek Jennie Parsons
1956 Matinee Theater Greybeards and Witches Velna
1955 Climax! Flight 951 Mona Herbert
1955 The Best of Broadway The Best of Broadway Amy Fisher
1954 Center Stage Chivalry at Howling Creek
1954 The Philip Morris Playhouse Up for Parole
1952 Orient Express 13th Spy Francine Gilman
1951 Lights Out To See Ourselves


  1. ^ David M. Story (June 2012). "Dream a Little Dream". Slice. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 

External links

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