She was born Betty Joan Perske.
She was always very self-conscious about the size of her feet, which she describes as big even for a woman of her exceptional height.
Her appearance on a cover of Harper's Bazaar magazine at 18 years of age led to her first film role; she was spotted by the wife of director Howard Hawks, who gave her a screen test and cast her.
She was 17 when she met and became a close friend of Gregory Peck. She was an usherette at the time and they remained close until his death.
She was one of the original members of the "Rat Pack".
She finally received an Academy Award at the 2010 ceremony.
She is mentioned along with her late husband in the 1980s song "Key Largo".