Her first film was Sins of the Fathers in 1928, and almost all of her films were pre-Code. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for two films -- Madame X (1929) and Sarah and Son (1930).
Her stage experience enhanced many of her film performances when the "silents" segued to the "talkies." Although her first "talkies" were merely filmed stage productions, her enunciation and acting were appreciated by the public and critics alike. And when she abandoned Paramount, her initial studio, for Warner Brothers (along with Kay Francis and William Powell), it was noted that the brothers Warner needed an infusion of "class."
Chatterton's last film was A Royal Divorce in 1938. However, she appeared on U.S.television in several plays, including a TV adaptation of Dodsworth, in which she recreated her film role. Her last television appearance was as "Gertrude" in a 1953 adaptation of Hamlet, with Maurice Evans in the title role, on the Hallmark Hall of Fame. She then relocated to England.
Having left acting, she began a successful writing career, producing several novels. She was also one of the few aviatrices at the time, and was acquainted with Amelia Earhart.
From 1932 to 1934, Chatterton was married to her younger but frequent film co-star George Brent, a fellow Warners player in the 1930s.
She died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 67 in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1961. Ruth Chatterton was cremated and is interred in a niche in the Lugar Mausoleum (Section 11, Lot 303) at Beechwoods Cemetery in New Rochelle, NY.
Occasional, much-younger co-star Bette Davis recalled that Chatterton was "very kind" to her at Warners when Davis was a young actress starting out on her career.
She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6263 Hollywood Blvd.