Madeline Frank was born to a Jewish-American family in San Francisco and attended Miss Burke’s School. In 1918, she married E. John Brandeis and had a daughter, Marie Madeline. Her second husband was Dr. Joseph A. Sampson, with whom she lived in New York City.
She used the name Madeline Brandeis professionally. She began her writing career at a time when children's literature was exploding in popularity in the USA. She became best known for her Children of America and Children of All Lands series of books. Most of the books were illustrated by photographs taken by the author on her travels. Madeline Brandeis also founded The Little Players' Film Company, with offices in New York and Chicago, and produced eight silent films with casts composed almost entirely of children. She wrote and directed the feature film The Star Prince (1918), released in 1920 as Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star. She died in New Mexico of injuries sustained in a car accident while she and her daughter were driving from New York to Los Angeles.