At age seven she moved to the U.S.; in high school she began to act in school plays. In 1924 she debuted on Broadway in a Theater Guild production, and over the next several years established herself as a prominent leading lady onstage. She debuted onscreen in D.W. Griffith's last film, The Struggle (1931); between then and 1934 she starred in several other films, then her lack of good screen roles prompted her to quit Hollywood for a return to Broadway. In 1989 she appeared as a librarian in the film Raiders of the Living Dead. She married and divorced producer-actor John Houseman.