Maria Matray, née Stern, was born to a Jewish family in Niederschönhausen, now a section of Berlin, Germany. Two of her sisters became actresses, and another sister became a dancer. Maria attended ballet school and toured as a dancer in 1921. Her father was opposed to her pursuit of a career in the theater, and she chose the stage name Maria Solveg. She made her screen debut in the silent film Das Blumenwunder (1924). In 1927, she married director Ernst Matray and went on tour in the USA. After their return to Germany, she was acclaimed for her performance in the film Der Meister von Nürnberg (1927). She became a star of the late Weimar period and appeared in numerous films until 1933, when she and her husband went into exile to escape the persecution of the Nazi regime. They went to Hollywood, where she established herself as a choreographer for MGM and other studios, working on films such as Waterloo Bridge and Dance, Girl, Dance. In the 1940s she began having success writing screenplays. After World War II, the couple returned to Germany and she wrote for television. She became well-known in the 1960s for several award-winning documentaries and TV movies. She also wrote some historical novels, including The Liaison (1976), co-authored with her second husband, Answald Kruger.