Wright was born in Manhattan on October 27, 1918, and lived with relatives in New York and New Jersey for most of her childhood. After participating in high school shows, she received a scholarship to Provincetown's Wharf Theater. Wright understudied Martha Scott as Emily in the original Broadway production of Our Town (1938) and also appeared in Life With Father (1939), The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1957), I Never Sang for My Father (1968), the 1975 revivals of Death of a Salesman and Ah, Wilderness!, the 1980 revival of Ah, Wilderness!, and the 1991 revival of On Borrowed Time.
She received Academy Award nominations for her first three films, The Little Foxes (1941), The Pride of the Yankees (1942), and Mrs. Miniver (1942), winning an Oscar for her supporting role in the last-named film. Wright also appeared in Shadow of a Doubt (1943), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), and the 1955 television production of The Miracle on 34th Street, in addition to her many other film and TV credits. Her last film was The Rainmaker (1997), directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Wright was married to Robert Anderson and then to Niven Busch, both marriages ending in divorce. She is survived by a daughter, a son, and two grandchildren.