She wrote over 400 songs for Broadway musicals and films. Along with Ann Ronell, Dana Suesse, Bernice Petkere, and Kay Swift, she was one of the first successful Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley female songwriters.
Fields was born in Allenhurst, New Jersey and grew up in New York City. Her father, Lew Fields, an immigrant from Poland, was a well-known vaudeville comedian and later became a Broadway producer. Her career as a professional songwriter took off in 1928, when Jimmy McHugh, who had seen some of her early work, invited her to provide some lyrics for him. Fields and McHugh teamed up until 1935. Songs from this period include "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street."
In the mid-1930s, Fields started to write lyrics for films and collaborated with other composers, including Jerome Kern. With Kern, she worked on the movie version of Roberta, and also on their greatest success, Swing Time. The song "The Way You Look Tonight" earned the Fields/Kern team an Academy Award for Best Song in 1936.
Fields returned to New York and worked again on Broadway shows, but now as a librettist, first with Arthur Schwartz on Stars In Your Eyes. (They reteamed in 1951 for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.) In the 1940s, she teamed up with her brother Herbert Fields, with whom she wrote the books for three Cole Porter shows, Let's Face It!, Something for the Boys, and Mexican Hayride. Together, they wrote the book for Annie Get Your Gun, a musical inspired by the life of Annie Oakley. They had intended for Jerome Kern to write the music, but when he died, Irving Berlin was brought in. The show, which included the songs "There's No Business Like Show Business" and "They Say It's Wonderful", was a success and ran for 1,147 performances.
In the 1950s, her biggest success was the show Redhead (1959), which won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. When she started collaborating with Cy Coleman in the 1960s, her career took a new turn. Their first work together was Sweet Charity. Her last hit was from their second collaboration in 1973, Seesaw. Its title was "It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish."