Helen Traubel studied voice in her native St. Louis and made her debut as a soloist in 1925 with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. In 1937, she made her stage debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in the world premiere of Walter Damrosch's opera The Man witbout a Country. She then became a leading interpreter of Wagnerian soprano roles. She also peformed on radio and teleivision, to the disapproval of the Metropolitan Opera's director, Rudolf Bing.
Helen Traubel left the Met and went on to perform in the nightclub circuit, appearing, inter alia, on Broadway in Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical Pipe Dream. She worked in films with Jimmy Durante, Jerry Lewis, Red Skelton, and Groucho Marx. She also wrote two mystery novels: The Ptomaine Canary (1950), which ran as a serial in 700 newspapers, and The Metropolitan Opera Murders (1951), featuring a soprano heroine. She also published an autobiography, St. Louis Woman (1959).