Born in Duluth, Minnesota, Dempster got her start in films as a protégé of legendary film director D.W. Griffith alongside other Griffith actresses of the mid-
Dempster's first feature role came in 1919 in the Griffith directed The Girl Who Stayed at Home opposite Robert "Bobby" Harron. Dempster followed this with Griffith's The Love Flower (1920), Dream Street (1921), and Isn't Life Wonderful? (1924).
Carol Dempster had a notable career in films throughout the 1920s and appear opposite such notable actors as John Barrymore, Richard Barthelmess, William Powell, Ivor Novello, and W.C. Fields. Her most memorable films of the period are Sherlock Holmes (1922), America (1924) and Sally of the Sawdust (1925), the latter two also directed by Griffith.
In 1926 Dempster acted in her final film, another Griffith vehicle entitled The Sorrows of Satan co-