She was born in El Paso, Texas.
She had planned to teach physical education.
She won the 1948 Miss Burbank contest and was offered a screen test by Warner Bros. the day after her win. She initially entered the contest because everyone who entered received a silk scarf, blouse and free lunch.
She is one of the few actresses to have danced with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in the movies, other actresses that have also done this include Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse, Vera-Ellen, Rita Hayworth, and Leslie Caron.
In 1969, she followed Doris Day and some of her contemporaries in launching a TV sitcom bearing her name. When the debut episode included an advertisement for cigarettes, a direct violation of one of her contractual stipulations, she made such a fuss about it that NBC ended up cancelling the series.
She is an avid collector of movie memorabilia.
She resides in Los Angeles next door to her daughter Carrie.