• Cara Buono is an American actress best known for her roles in "Stranger Things," "Mad Men," and "Supergirl"
• She is of Italian descent and grew up in a working class family
• She was inspired to act after watching a John Malkovich interview and got her first acting job when she was 12
• She appeared in multiple films and TV shows, and even provided the voice for a video game
• She is married to successful businessman and entrepreneur Peter Thum and has a net worth of $10 million

Known for movies

Short Info

SpousePeter Thum
FactRan three New York City Marathons: 1998, 1999, and 2005. She was set to run the 2006 NYC Marathon but had to drop about a week before due to an injury.

Cara Buono is a popular American actress, who is mostly known for her appearances in such series as “Stranger Things”, “Mad Men” and “Supergirl”.

Early life and family

Cara Buono was born on 1 March 1974, in The Bronx, New York City USA, so her zodiac sign is Pisces and she holds American nationality. Cara’s father is Anthony Buono, and her mother Rosemary Buono, both of Italian descent. Cara shared in one of her interviews that both her father and her mother like cooking, and they often spent time in the kitchen, when the whole family was making a dinner, with every person having a role in this process. Cara has two brothers and one younger sister; all of them enjoyed the pies their father baked.

Posted by Cara Buono on Saturday, October 8, 2011

Little is known about her parent’s professions, except that they were a working-class family, and Cara’s father worked as a truck mechanic.

Educational background

Cara matriculated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in 1992, and then entered Columbia University. Surprisingly even for the members of her family, Cara graduated in only three years instead of standard four years, double majoring in Political Science and English.


First steps

Cara remembers that she has always worked, as her parents instilled the love for working in her. She got her first job when she was not even 11 years old, working at a video store, using her paper route to do everything right.

A bit later, when she was in high school, she also worked at FAO Schwartz as a toy doll. She recalls it helped her a lot in her future profession: ‘I think that it’s made me really disciplined when it came to pursuing acting, because I had no clue how to go about it’, Cara reflects on her first acting experience. However, her first real role on stage happened in 1986, when she appeared in Harvey Fierstein’s production of “Spook House”. Cara was only 12 years old, but she was very motivated to act. She later shared that she was strongly inspired by John Malkovich’s playing in the “Burn This” movie, as he portrayed a person who was completely different from John’s real character, which Cara saw during his interview. She understood that acting like that was true magic, and did her best to become a good actress.

Cara Buono

Further success

Cara appeared in other off-Broadway and Broadway productions when a teenager, and her TV debut happened in 1989, when she was a high school student, landing the role of Joann, in a couple of episodes of the “Dream Street” series. She also played Abby Morris in one of the films of the high school series “CBS Schoolbreak Special” in 1991. In 1992 Cara was cast in the role of Dawn in Rowdy Herrington’s “Gladiator”, starring James Marshall and Cuba Gooding Jr. She also could be seen in such films as “Waterland” (1992), “In the Line of Duty: Ambush in Waco” and “Victim of Love: The Shannon Mohr Story” both in 1993.

From 1994 to 1998 she appeared in such series as “The Single Guy” and “New York Undercover”, also landing roles in such movies as “The Cowboy Way” (1994), in which she played Teresa Salazar, “Killer: A Journal of Murder” (1995), portraying Esther Lesser, and “Kicking and Screaming”, a romantic comedy in which Cara had the role of Kate. After playing episodic roles in such series as “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Queens Supreme”, Cara got her first voice-over role of Sarah Angelo in the popular video game “Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven”. From 2004 to 2005 she could be seen in the recurring cast of “Third Watch” as Grace Foster., and during this period also appeared in numerous indie movies.

Kelli Moltisanti in “The Sopranos”

Cara remembers her audition for the role of Kelli Moltisanti to be very promising, as she felt she was going to get it. She had a hard period of time in her private life, and at least hoped for  the best at work, if her personal life was not what she wanted it to be: ‘I had a long-term relationship end. I was coming home from the audition on the train, and a bunch of kids came by and stepped on these ketchup packets on the platform, and they squirted all over me. I said, ‘Something’s got to give.’, she recalls in her interview with The New York Times. Eventually, Cara appeared in seven episodes of the show, with her acting was praised by the critics. However, HBO closed the crime drama series in that very year of 2007, after six seasons were aired.

Karen Wheeler in “Stranger Things”

After numerous roles in such series as “Brothers & Sisters”, “Mad Men” and “Person of Interest”, Cara landed the role of Karen Wheeler in the new Netflix series “Stranger Things”. The character of Karen depicts a mother of the ‘80s, who cares little about her family, even though she makes daily dinners for her husband and children; yet she also has a secret passion outside of her marriage, as she seeks the attention of Billy Hargrove, the elder brother of her son’s classmate, Max. In 2016 the series won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, and the team was also nominated for the award the next year, but lost it to the team of the series “This Is Us”, starring Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown and Mandy Moore.

Cara is very excited about the fourth season of the series coming up soon, as she likes the script and her role from the first sight: ‘When I first read the script, I knew I wanted to be part of the show. I thought we’ll at least get two seasons out of it. No one could have predicted the phenomenon it’s become’, she shared in her interview with Wtop Magazine. It is worth saying that it was Cara who suggested Karen should have appeared with a glass of wine most of the time, as it could make her character even more oblivious to her kids, even though she behaved as though she cared about them.

Personal life, husband Peter Thum

In 2007 Cara met her future husband, after a long-term relationship which ended at the beginning of the same year.

Peter Thum and Cara were travelling from Los Angeles to New York, when they suddenly found themselves talking about everything which came to their mind, instantly understanding they had so much in common. The couple married in less than a year. As of 2020, they live in Greenwich Village, New York, and bring up their daughter named Esme.

Who is Cara’s husband, Peter Thum?

Cara’s husband, Peter Thum, is an American businessman and entrepreneur, who has founded several companies and runs numerous successful businesses. The list of his projects includes Fonderie 47 (the brand which turns assault rifles into jewelry, watches and other small things), Liberty United company and Ethos Water. He also co-founded the non-profit organization Giving Water in 2008.

Peter is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College (class of 1990), and also has an MBA after graduating from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts

Cara has always been interested in sports; she is a certified yoga trainer, and also enjoys cycling and swimming. Cara has participated in three marathons, explaining it in a very interesting way: ‘I like crowds, so that is why I like the big marathons’. She also inherited the love of cooking from her parents, so she enjoys the process of creating dishes herself: ‘I find it very relaxing, and I love socializing around a dinner table.’ In her interview with The New York Times, she shared that she makes the best eggplant parmigiana, but keeps the recipe a secret, just as her mother.

She also admits she likes even just reading recipes, as it already makes her feel better.


Cara has middle length light brown hair and brown eyes. She is 5ft 4ins (1.65 m) tall and weighs around 115lbs (52kgs); her vital statistics are not available at the moment.

Net worth and salary

As of 2020, Cara’s net worth is estimated to be around $10 million, while her salary is reported to be around $400,000. Her husband, the successful businessman and entrepreneur Peter Thum, has a reputed fortune of $10 million. It is worth saying that Cara is very popular on Instagram, as her account has recently reached the milestone of one million subscribers, so she can earn up to $3,400 per sponsored post on her social media profile.

General Info

Full NameCara Buono
Height1.65 m
ProfessionActor, Film director, Screenwriter
EducationColumbia University, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School


SpousePeter Thum


AwardsScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
NominationsPrimetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer In A Children/Youth/Family Special
MoviesPaper Towns, Let Me In, Hulk, Artie Lange's Beer League, A Good Marriage, Kicking and Screaming, The Cowboy Way, Happy Accidents, Two Ninas, Chutney Popcorn, The Discoverers, Next Stop Wonderland, Waterland, River Red, Killer: A Journal of Murder, Man of the Century, From Other Worlds, Gladiator, At...
TV ShowsThird Watch, Stranger Things

Social profile links


1She is of Italian descent.
2Ran three New York City Marathons: 1998, 1999, and 2005. She was set to run the 2006 NYC Marathon but had to drop about a week before due to an injury.
3She graduated from Columbia University in 3 years, class of 1993, with a double major in English and political science.




Dream Street1989TV SeriesJoann
Half the Perfect World2016completedSonia
Stranger Things2016TV SeriesKaren Wheeler
The Mysteries of Laura2015TV SeriesJulia Davis
Emily & Tim2015Emily (Segment 3)
Paper Towns2015Mrs. Jacobsen
Person of Interest2014-2015TV SeriesMartine Rousseau
A Good Marriage2014Betty Pike
Elementary2014TV SeriesSarah Cushing
The Carrie Diaries2014TV SeriesPenny
The Good Wife2013TV SeriesCharlene Peterson
Castle2013TV SeriesSiobhan O'Doul
The Discoverers2012Nell
Drew Peterson: Untouchable2012TV MovieKathleen Savio
A Gifted Man2011TV SeriesCarol Gordan
Hawaii Five-02011TV SeriesAgent Allison Marsh
Brothers & Sisters2011TV SeriesRose
Mad Men2010TV SeriesFaye Miller
Let Me In2010/IOwen's Mother
Betrayed2010/IIShortAmy Waite
NCIS2009TV SeriesNavy Comm Sarah Resnik
ER2009TV SeriesLisa Salamunovich
The Unquiet2008TV MovieJulie Bishop
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit2008TV SeriesRachel Zelinsky
The Dead Zone2007TV SeriesSheriff Anna Turner
Cthulhu2007Dannie Marsh
The Sopranos2006-2007TV SeriesKelli Moltisanti Kelli Lombardo
Law & Order1996-2007TV SeriesAttorney Shannon / Alice Simonelli / Shelly Taggert
Beer League2006Linda Salvo
Third Watch2004-2005TV SeriesGrace Foster
From Other Worlds2004Joanne Schwartzbaum
Six Months to Live2004TV Series shortAlice
Miss Match2003TV SeriesMichelle Schiff
Hulk2003Edith Banner
Queens Supreme2003TV SeriesBettina Martinelli
Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven2002Video GameSarah (voice)
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation2002TV SeriesTracy Logan - Eric's Girlfriend
Law & Order: Criminal Intent2002TV SeriesCharlotte Fielding
Family Law2001TV SeriesCarly Hanson
Attention Shoppers2000Claire Suarez
Takedown2000Christina Painter (unconfirmed)
Happy Accidents2000Bette
In a Class of His Own1999TV MovieSherry Donato
Chutney Popcorn1999Janis
Two Ninas1999Nina Cohen
Deep in My Heart1999TV MovieYoung Gerry Cummins
Man of the Century1999Virginia Clemens
River Red1998Rachel
Lulu on the Bridge1998Molly (DVD deleted scene) (uncredited)
Next Stop Wonderland1998Julie
Made Men1997Toni-Ann Antonelli
New York Undercover1996TV SeriesConnie
Kicking and Screaming1995Kate
The Single Guy1995TV SeriesChristie
Killer: A Journal of Murder1995Esther Lesser
The Cowboy Way1994Teresa Salazar
A Dog Race in Alaska1993Short
Victim of Love: The Shannon Mohr Story1993TV MovieTracey Lien
In the Line of Duty: Ambush in Waco1993TV Movie
Tribeca1993TV SeriesRose Polito
Waterland1992Judy Dobson
I'll Fly Away1992TV SeriesDiane
CBS Schoolbreak Special1991TV SeriesAbby Morris






Two Ninas1999associate producer


Futurestates2011TV Series thanks - 1 episode
Adventureland2009the filmmakers wish to thank
Cake2005/Ispecial thanks


17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards2011TV SpecialHerself
The Sopranos: A Sitdown2007TV Short documentaryHerself
Howard Stern on Demand2006TV SeriesHerself


Nominated Awards

2011Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesMad Men (2007)
2011OFTA Television AwardOnline Film & Television AssociationBest Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesMad Men (2007)
2011ActorScreen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesMad Men (2007)
1992Daytime EmmyDaytime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Performer in a Children's SpecialCBS Schoolbreak Special (1984)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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