She was born in Chicago, Illinois. As an adolescent, she studied drama and ballet, and on graduating from high school, went with a local dance group on a tour of Canada. She then took a job as a chorus girl in the Edgewater Beach Hotel in her native Chicago. After doing a fill-in in Indiana, she decided to pursue a singing career. Some executives at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) spotted her in a television commercial, and she was signed by MGM in 1952. Her first hit, "Why Don't You Believe Me?" sold over a million copies. She had a number of hits following that one, including "Your Cheatin' Heart" (a cover of Hank Williams' hit) and "Why Don't You Believe Me".
In 1964 she retired from music, in part also because her husband, Anthony Acquaviva (a music director) was in bad health and needed her attention. For many years she was out of the public eye, but began touring again in the mid-1990s.