Cady was born in Susanville, California. While in high school he worked at a local newspaper, The Lassen County Advocate. Cady's family later moved to Wilsonville, Oregon. Cady studied journalism and drama at Stanford University, where he was involved with the campus humor magazine, the Stanford Chaparral. It was at Stanford where he first met Shirley, his future wife. Following college graduation Cady served an apprenticeship at the Westminster Theater in London, England, appearing in four plays. While in England he also made an early television appearance on the BBC in late 1938.
Cady then returned to Stanford in 1939 for graduate studies and a position as teaching assistant. Unsatisfied with academic life, two years later he began a series of jobs as an announcer and news broadcaster at various California radio stations. His career was put on hold in 1943 when he joined the United States Army Air Corps, serving in England, France and Germany during World War II.
Television and movie career
After being discharged from military service in 1946 Cady appeared in a series of plays in the Los Angeles area, which led to movie roles, beginning in 1947. In 1950, he had an uncredited speaking role in the classic film noir drama D.O.A. (as Sam the bartender in Banning, California), and another uncredited role in Father of the Bride (1950), requesting mint juleps from Spencer Tracy during the engagement party. He also had a small part in the noir classic The Asphalt Jungle (also 1950) playing a witness who refused to identify a robbery suspect. He appeared in George Pal's film When Worlds Collide (1951) as the assistant to John Hoyt's character. (Cady would work with Pal again in 1964, playing the mayor of Abalone in 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.) Cady had a prominent role in Billy Wilder's film Ace in the Hole (aka, The Big Carnival, also 1951). He had a small non-speaking role, seen mostly in long shot, in one of Alfred Hitchcock's most prestigious films, Rear Window (1954), portraying the husband of the woman who owns a dog, which is raised and lowered to their apartment window in a basket. Cady also played the husband of Eileen Heckart's character in The Bad Seed(1956). Cady would again play the husband of Heckart in the 1974 film western Zandy's Bride. Cady appeared on the Make Room For Daddy episode that was the pilot for The Andy Griffith Show as the town drunk, preceding Hal Smith who eventually took over that role as Otis Campbell. Cady also appeared on some radio programs, including the Gunsmoke episode 140 "Outlaw Robin Hood" on January 8, 1955.
In the 1950s, Cady played Doc Williams in Ozzie and Harriet (1954–55), along with numerous supporting parts in movies and also appeared in television commercials for (among other products) Shasta Grape Soda. In 1961 Cady made a guest appearance on Perry Mason as twin brothers Joe and Hiram Widlock in "The Case of the Pathetic Patient." Cady was prolific in television and was the only actor to play a recurring character on three television sitcoms at the same time, The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction, from 1968 to 1969. He also was one of only three co-stars of Petticoat Junction who stayed with the series for its entire seven-year run, along with Edgar Buchanan andLinda Henning, appearing in 170 of the show's 222 episodes. His final acting role was in the television movie Return to Green Acres (1990).
In a 1995 interview with the Portland Oregonian Cady spoke of his television career: "You get typecast. I'm remembered for those shows and not for some pretty good acting jobs I did other times. I suppose I ought to be grateful for that, because otherwise I wouldn't be remembered at all. I've got to be one of the luckiest guys in the world."
In 2005, Cady attended Eddie Albert's funeral, along with Green Acres co-stars Sid Melton and Mary Grace Canfield.
Personal life and death
Cady married his wife, Shirley, in 1940. They had lived in Wilsonville, Oregon, since 1991. Shirley Cady died on August 22, 2008, at age 91. The Cadys were the parents of two children — daughter, Catherine Turk; son, Steven; three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Frank Cady died at his home on June 8, 2012. Buried Meridian United Church of Christ Cemetery Wilsonville Oregon. No information on cause of death was provided.