The daughter of a Milwaukee physician, Nancy Olson attended UCLA, then briefly acted on stage before signing a Paramount Pictures contract in 1949. Her best screen assignment at Paramount was as self-effacing script clerk Betty Schaffer in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard. She went on to be teamed with her Boulevard co-star William Holden in Union Station (1950), Force of Arms (1951) and Submarine Command (1951). Olson briefly retired in the mid-1950s when she married songwriter Alan Jay Lerner (they later divorced; her second husband was record executive Alan Livingston). In 1960, Olson went back before the cameras as Betty Carlisle, ever-patient fiance of would-be inventor Ned Brainard (Fred MacMurray) in Disney's The Absent Minded Professor; she repeated this characterization in the 1963 sequel Son of Flubber. She went on to do a smattering of TV films, including the 1967 pilot of the Darren McGavin private eye series The Outsider. Nancy Olson also played continuing roles in the 1977 weekly Kingston: Confidential and the 1984 prime-time soaper Paper Dolls.