Often cast as tough, defensive women, Gertrude Michael was a pianist before beginning her acting career. Even in her very early twenties, Michael conveyed a tangy "Don't tread on me!" attitude, and as such proved a worthy foil for Mae West in I'm No Angel (1933). She was more sedate (but no less emphatic) as Calpurnia in DeMille's Cleopatra (1934). In 1934, Michael played the leading role of an ex-jewel thief in The Notorious Sophie Lang, reviving the characterization for the sequels The Return of Sophie Lang (1936) and Sophie Lang Goes West (1937). Gertrude Michael alternated film, TV, and stage work until the early '60s; her last picture was 1962's Twist All Night.