Her father was a traveling salesman. She attended community college for a year and then worked as a dancer and magician's assistant. After a brief marriage, she had a small part in Easy to Love (1953), did TV commercials, and had a bit part on Broadway. She studied at the Actor's Studio and was married to director Jack Garfein (one daughter, Blanche Baker). Warner Brothers, sensing a future Marilyn Monroe, cast her in Giant (1956), Baby Doll (1956) (Oscar nomination for her thumb-sucking role), The Carpetbaggers (1964), and Harlow (1965/I) (title role). Moving to Italy, she made films there and in Spain, Germany, Mexico, and England. After returning to American films, she married Donald Burton in 1982.