Evelyn Venable was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the only child of Emerson and Dolores Venable. She attended Walnut Hills High School where her father taught English. Her grandfather William Henry Venable also taught English there. She performed in several plays at Walnut Hills, as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the Dream Child in Dear Brutus and Rosalind in As You Like It. She attended Vassar College for a short time before returning to the University of Cincinnati. She performed in Walter Hampden's touring productions, including Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac and Ophelia in Hamlet.
During a performance in Los Angeles, she was recognized and offered several film contracts. After initially turning down the offers, she signed a contract with Paramount in 1932. Her contract was unique in that she would not have to cut her hair, pose for leg art, or perform in bit parts. A long-
She appeard in 24 films from 1933 until she retired from the screen in 1943.