Los Angeles native Catlin Adams made her film debut using her birth name Nira Barab in "Up in the Cellar" (1970), playing the daughter of Larry Hagman and Joan Collins who succumbs to the charms of a seductive young man. After decamping to NYC to study and begin a writing career, she adopted her new name and began to find work. Adams appeared in the TV-movie "The Panic in Echo Park" (NBC, 1971) before landing several roles in Off-Off-Broadway productions. Returning to Hollywood in the late 1970s, she was cast as dominatrix encountered by Steve Martin's "The Jerk" (1979) and as the traditional Jewish wife of Neil Diamond's "The Jazz Singer" (1980).
Feeling frustrated by the lack of roles for women, Adams served as an assistant producer on Lee Grant's superb documentary "The Wilmar 8" (1981) before enrolling in the directing program at the American Film Institute. She found success with her first professional effort, the above-average TV-movie "Wanted: The Perfect Guy" (1986), which aired as an "ABC Afterschool Special" and also earned Adams a Directors Guild of America Award. She went on to collaborate with Melanie Mayron on the short "Shiny Little Shoes" and the pair co-wrote and co-produced "Sticky Fingers" (1988), an uneven female buddy comedy starring Mayron and directed by Adams. More recently, Adams served as project consultant and played the small role of Mrs. Barab in the Mayron-directed TV-movie remake of "Freaky Friday" (ABC, 1995). She was again guided by Mayron in "Toothless", a 1997 Disney/ABC telefilm starring Kirstie Alley as the Tooth Fairy.