Elizabeth Pickett Chevalier was born in Chicago, Illinois, and spent summers on her paternal grandparents' farm near Lexington, Kentucky. She attended Wellesley College, graduating in 1918, and got a job as a publicist for the American Red Cross. After writing The History of Red Cross Nursing and The History of the American Red Cross, published in 1923, she was asked to shoot several short documentary films encouraging women to become army nurses. The following year, she went to work in New York and Hollywood for Fox Film Corporation, where she wrote and directed some 40-50 short variety films between 1923 and 1926, eventually becoming the West Coast supervisor for the studio. In 1929, she moved to Paramount for the opportunity to write and direct feature films. In 1936, she married Stuart Chevalier, a tax attorney and author. In 1942, she published a novel called Drivin' Woman, which became a bestseller. She sold the movie rights to MGM, but the film was never made. After her husband developed polio, the couple began spending time at Warm Springs, Georgia, where they became close friends of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.