She was born Dec. 24, 1940, in Chicago, and trained to be an actor in the same city. She began acting professionally in the late '60s. Her theatre roles included Mame; Gypsy; Hello, Dolly!; Guys and Dolls; My Fair Lady; Funny Girl; and The Sound of Music. For five seasons, she was a regular at the Kansas City Starlight Theatre. Ms. Carroll won a DramaLogue Critics Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre for her performance as Klytemnestra in Ezra Pound’s Elektra. She created the roles of Julia Rajik in Shadow of Heros at the St. Nicholas Theatre in Chicago, and Dorothea in Nancy Shayne’s musical comedy, Two Bitter Women In A Coffee Shop. Beginning in 1981, Ms. Carroll appeared in numerous television shows and movies. But she probably never made a bigger impression than in the sleeper hit "Risky Business." In the movie, she plays Tom Cruise's bourgeoise suburban mother, who offers an endless stream of lightly scolding advice to her son before she and her husband go on vacation. She returns at the end of the film, having no inkling that her home has functioned as a highly successful brothel in her absence.
During the late '80s and 1990s, she thrived on television, with recurring roles on the series "The Bronx Zoo," "Murphy Brown" (as Doris Dial, stoic anchorman Charles Kimbrough's wife), "Married With Children" and "Melrose Place." She frequently played characters that were great fun for viewers, but spelled trouble for the other characters on the show.
In addition to her acting carreer, Ms. Carroll was a jazz singer, performing at Jazz Festivals throughout the United States and Canada, such as Victoria and Vancouver Festivals in British Columbia, Monterey, Los Angeles Classic, Newport Beach, Catalina Island, New Orleans.