Brunette Dorothy Jordan was a graduate of Southwestern University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Trained as a ballerina, she first graced the stage as a chorus girl in top flight musicals, like "Funny Face" (1927), with Fred Astaire, and "Treasure Girl" (1928), with Gertrude Lawrence and Clifton Webb. This led to what turned out to be a fairly short and desultory movie career, beginning with a run-of-the-mill thriller, Black Magic (1929). Dorothy was soon cast as assorted sultry dames in Devil-May-Care (1929) and Call of the Flesh (1930), opposite Latin star Ramon Novarro. Rather more demure was her Bianca, the overtly obedient (but deceptively cunning) younger sister of Kate (Mary Pickford) in The Taming of the Shrew (1929). Contemporary critics were frequently unimpressed with Dorothy's acting, whether it was speaking her lines too quickly (Hell Bound (1931)) or delivering them as a 'memory citation' (Beloved Bachelor (1931)). She gave rather better account of herself in more downtrodden waif-like roles, notably as Marie Dressler's daughter in Min and Bill (1930), as an unwed mother in Bondage (1933) and as simple-minded Southern girl Betty Wright in The Cabin in the Cotton (1932).
After her marriage to famed producer Merian C. Cooper in 1933 -- and finding decent roles ever harder to come by -- Dorothy gave up acting to raise a family. She emerged from retirement in 1937, unsuccessfully screen testing for the role of Melanie in Gone with the Wind (1939). She made a second comeback upon her husband's successful entreaties to a long-term friend and collaborator, the director John Ford. Dorothy appeared in supporting roles in three of Ford's films, before leaving the screen for the final time. In her later years, she became somewhat reticent about discussing her career as a movie actress.