After completing her studies at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, freckle-faced, strawberry blonde Catherine Burns landed a co-starring role in a 1967 CBS TV adaptation of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible", starring George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst. She made an auspicious film debut as the slightly shy, zaftig teenager Rhoda who is gang raped in "Last Summer" (1969), a performance for which she earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Burns subsequently had a featured role in the Patty Duke vehicle "Me Natalie" (also 1969) and originated the role of heroine Cathy Craig in the ABC daytime drama "One Life to Live". She made only one other feature film, reteaming with "Last Summer" co-star Richard Thomas in the teen drama "Red Sky in the Morning" (1971).
Burns continues to act on the small screen in the 1970s, acting in a PBS adaptation of "A Memory of Two Mondays" (1974) and co-starring in the biographical dramas "Sandburg's Lincoln" (NBC, 1974-76) and "Amelia Earhart" (NBC, 1976). Her last major primetime appearance was in the CBS religious miniseries "The Word" (CBS, 1978) before retiring in her native NYC to concentrate on a writing career.