Her mother died when she was a child, so she was left in the care of her father up until she became a teenager. When she was old enough, she moved to New York City and found work as a model and eventually making her way into the movies. It's always the same ole story isn't it?
When she began working as an extra in movies, she was only making $3.00 a day! But, she enjoyed it, and kept at it, making films for a studio in New Jersey. She final made her big debut in 1915. It was after this film that she began going by her stage name of Evelyn Brent.
She ended up making quite a few films before she made her first talkie in 1928, starring alongside William Powell. The film didn't do very well, but Evelyn was a strong willed woman because it did not slow her down. She kept on making films! She just kept working, whether or not it was in small, secondary roles or on the vaudeville stage. Eventually she ended up making poverty row pictures.
She finally retired from acting in films in 1950, but stayed in the business working as an agent for up and coming actors. She came out of her retirement in the 1960s to appear in an episode of Wagon Train.
She was cremated and interred at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.
Evelyn was married three times. Her first husband was Bernard Fineman in 1922. They divorced in 1927. Her second husband was producer Harry Edwards. They were married from 1928 until 1948. Her last husband was actor Harry Fox, who she stayed married to until he died in 1959. She never had children.
Was Evelyn gay? Was she bi? Who knows? She never came out (pun intended) and confirmed anything but she was a frequent visitor of the Hollywood lesbian scene. It wasn't the most ideal time to come out as gay, so hey, if she was...she was! And she was in great company with other supposed lesbians Garbo, Nazimova...
Her most memorable role was as Feathers McCoy in the 1927 gangster film, Underworld alongside Clive Brook and Larry Semon. Apparently the film was thought to be a flop, and was shelved for a few years before being released. It did way better than expected and actually won an Academy Award.
Interesting note, one of Evelyn's hobbies was creating hand carved furniture.