After a brief period of training at a Los Angeles coaching school, Dorothy Lee went straight from high school to the stage: as historian Leonard Maltin put it, "it looked that way." Lee's stage and screen personality was very reminiscent of Ruby Keeler (Keeler once understudied Lee on Broadway). The two performers were also evenly matched in ability: Lee's nasal singing, heavy-footed dancing and first-grade-pageant acting can best be described as "passable," Still, she possessed a great deal of charm and vivacity, and proved an excellent leading lady/foil to the comedy team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey.
In their first films together at RKO Radio, Wheeler, Woolsey and Lee were so inextricably enjoined in the eyes of the public that they shared equal billing. Lee also starred in the first-ever RKO Radio talkie release Syncopation (1929), and was cast opposite Joe E. Brown in the delightful Local Boy Makes Good (1931). In 1932, Lee married Hollywood columnist Jimmy Fidler and briefly retired from films. When the marriage dissolved in 1934, Lee returned to the Wheeler and Woolsey fold in two of the team's best efforts, Hips Hips Hooray (1934) and Cockeyed Cavaliers (1934). In all, Lee co-starred in 13 of Wheeler and Woolsey's 21 films, and also appeared with Bert Wheeler in his 1931 solo effort Too Many Cooks (1931). After playing a minor role in 1939's Twelve Crowded Hours, Lee retired from films, relocating to Chicago with her second husband. In 1994, Dorothy Lee wrote the foreword for Edward Watz' book Wheeler and Woolsey: The Vaudeville Comic Duo and Their Films.