She went to the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York, having convinced her mother that she intended to teach acting. In 1934, with some stock company work and a little Broadway experience, she was tested and signed by Universal but simultaneously MGM tested her and made her a better offer. For some time she was used in secondary roles and as a replacement threat to limit Myrna Loy’s salary demands. Knowing she was right for comedy, she tried five times for the role of Sylvia Fowler in ‘The Women’ until George Cukor told her to ‘play her as a freak.’ She did and got the part. In her forties, she returned to the stage, touring ‘Bell, Book and Candle’ in 1951 and winning a Tony for ‘Wonderful Town’ in 1953. Columbia Pictures, worried the public would think she had the female lead in ‘Picnic’ instead of Kim Novak billed her ‘co-starring Rosalind Russell as Rosemary’ (she refused to accept an Oscar nomination as supporting actress). The role of ‘Auntie Mame’ kept her on Broadway for two years; the movie version was her last cinematic triumph. She had Oscar nominations for ‘My Sister Eileen,’ ‘Sister Kenny,’ ‘Mourning Becomes Electra’ and ‘Auntie Mame.’ In 1972 she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for contributions to charity. She is buried beneath a huge cross at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.