Laurence got her start in the theater in 1936 when Orson Welles cast her in his WPA production of Horse Eats Hat. She made her Broadway debut in 1937 in Welles' production of Doctor Faustus, later appearing on Broadway in such shows as Cyrano de Bergerac, Ivanov, and Hotel Paradiso in addition to the aforementioned musicals. She also played Maxine in the Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana, produced by Charles Bowden, to whom she was married for more than 30 years. After Williams' death, Laurence and Bowden became the guardian of Williams' sister Rose, upon whom the character of Laura in The Glass Menagerie was loosely based.
For nearly 70 years, Laurence performed in numerous cabarets, nightclubs, benefits, and revues, including the 92nd Street Y's popular Lyrics & Lyrcists series. She was also a recording artist, journalist, sculptor, and a member of the board of New Dramatists. (Donations can be made to that organization in her name.)
Laurence leaves no immediate survivors. A funeral mass for her will be held at St. Malachy's Church on Thursday, November 10 at 10am.