Her mother was a piano accompanist for dancer Ruth St. Denis; Maxwell traveled with her as a child, and at age three made her first stage appearance in a dance number. After taking singing lessons, as a teenager she became a band vocalist and sang on radio. She trained for the stage at the Pasadena Playhouse. In 1942 MGM signed her as a contract player, and she played leads and second leads in numerous movies, both light and dramatic. During World War Two and the Korean War she entertained American servicemen all over the world. Her film work tapered off after the mid '50s, and she entertained in top nightclubs and appeared in several stage productions in stock. She starred briefly in the TV series Bus Stop. In 1967 she headlined a burlesque-type stage show in Brooklyn; her act included a striptease. From 1944-46 she was married to actor John Conte, and from 1954-60 she was married to screenwriter Jerry Davis. She died at 50 of high blood pressure and a pulmonary disorder.