Born in Seattle on the third of May 1888, Clara Williams made her first film, Western Chivalry, with “Bronco Billy’ Anderson in 1910. After appearing in numerous leading lady roles for Powers Picture Plays in 1911, Williams moved on to take a job with the Lubin Company in Philadelphia in 1912.
There she was cast opposite leading man, Edgar Jones, and put under the direction of director, Francis J. Grandon. Grandons’ stock company was one of the first assigned to make western theme films at the Betzwood studio. Williams was a very skilled “female rough rider” and her riding abilities were exploited in every possible way during her time with Lubin. She appeared in at least two dozen westerns while working for the company. Four of those films survive today. Late in 1912, Grandon and company were sent to California to work on location. When the company returned to Betzwood a few months later, it was without either Grandon or Williams, both of whom had taken jobs with other film companies in California.
Between 1915 and 1918, Clara Williams worked for a number of film companies, among them Kay-Bee Films, Domino Films, Selexart, and the Triangle Film Corporation. In early 1915 she achieved critical acclaim for her role in The Italian, a production of the New York Motion Picture Company, in which she played opposite George Beban. The following year, in a production for Triangle, she appeared in one of the greatest and most famous Westerns of the silent era, Hell’s Hinges, co-starring with William S. Hart and a former Lubin star, Jack Standing.
Miss Williams’ years with Triangle were her best years professionally, and she frequently worked under the direction of Reginald Barker who appreciated her talent and personal qualities in more ways than one. She was well known for her wardrobe and the press playfully referred to her “forty famous frocks.” Barker directed Williams in her last film, Carmen of the Klondike, in 1918. Upon her marriage to Barker in 1920, Williams retired from making movies and told the press she much preferred the domestic lifestyle.
Early in 1928 it was disclosed in the press that Williams had undergone major surgery for an unknown condition. She died at her Los Angeles home on the eighth of May 1928 at the age of 40.