"Doll Face" Carroll is an entertainer looking to expand her reportoire. After a failed audition, where she is recognized as a burlesque performer from the Gayety Theatre, her manager and fiancé Mike Hannegan suggest she writes an autobiography to project a more literate image and he hires Frederick Manly Gerard as a ghost writer. Doll Face agrees on the condition she is allowed to dedicate the book to Mike with "For the love of Mike".
Another performer in the burlesque show, Chita Chula, remarks that if the book is a success and Doll Face leaves the show it will probably have to close down. Mike then decides to produce a Broadway show of his own with the financial aid of the performers themselves. Frederick offers to put up any money missing. Chita Chula (portrayed by Carmen Miranda) is sceptical she can pull it off, but Mike assures her she'll "probably wound up being another Carmen Miranda!", something Chita Chula perceives as an insult.
Mike leaks word on the book to the press and, riding the publicity, argues the show got all the press it needs and that the book, although all but finished, needs not to be published. Doll Face, however, decides to go through with it and goes to Jamaica with Frederick for some final touch-ups. Boat engine trouble leaves them marooned on an island and when Mike finds them he breaks up with her. Without "Doll Face" as headliner, the Gayety Theatre struggles and Mike finally shuts it down.
Doll Face releases her book "The Genius DeMilo" and when Mike sees she dedicated the book to Frederick instead of him, he regrets leaving her. After Doll Face refuses to talk to Mike he sends a lawyer to stop her show in the middle of opening night since she is under contract not to appear in any show not produced by him. She agrees to meet him and he asks her forgiveness. They reunite, she tricks the producer of her show to give Mike a 25% share and co-producer credit so the show can go on.
The studio Twentieth Century-Fox reportedly paid Louise Hovick (Gypsy Rose Lee) much money for the rights to The Naked Genius. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote that "some one (not Miss Hovick) made a terrible deal. [...] the only distinction in its writing is a persistence in grammatical mistakes. The only remarkability about its pattern is a monotonous fidelity to form." and "Forget the plot, and concentrate on the production numbers performed with gusto by Blaine, Como, and Carmen Miranda."