Her professional career began at one of the Atlantic City, New Jersey beauty pageants where she won honors as Miss Long Island. Forbes was 16 when she was chosen Miss United States in the Paris International Beauty Pageant of 1926. She became a showgirl in New York City at the age of 17 in 1927. She was hired away from Florenz Ziegfeld and his Ziegfeld Follies by Broadway theatre producer Earl Carroll. This was for a January 1929 production at his Earl Carroll Theatre. Carroll tempted Forbes with a substantial offer for a new dance review. Ziegfeld eventually won the struggle and Forbes starred in Whoopee and other shows, in support of Eddie Cantor.
Forbes married automobile salesman, Harry Judson, in 1928. In 1931 she wed Paul O. Richmond in Kennedyville, Maryland. They were happy together but Richmond died suddenly in 1932. He left Forbes a fortune estimated at $3,000,000 from his toothpaste and hair shampoo interests.
After Richmond's death Forbes went to Hollywood and made Bachelor Bait and Down To Their Last Yacht, both films from 1934. She received a series of threatening letters which dissuaded her from continuing in motion pictures. She donated her salary as a movie extra to charity because of the money she was willed by Richmond.
She met entertainer Harry Richman and married him in March 1938, in Palm Springs, California. Playboy Richman was well known for his earlier romances with Clara Bow, Dorothy Darrell, showgirl Edith Roark, Virginia Biddle, Lina Basquette, Peggy Hopkins Joyce, and Lenore Ulric. He and Forbes shared a sumptuous home in Beechurst, Long Island. Shortly after their wedding Forbes contracted pneumonia and was saved, in part, through the use of the drug sulfanilimide. The couple considered adopting a baby.
By 1942 Forbes was divorced from Richman and was being wooed by millionaire Max Bamberger.
Hazel Forbes died in 1980 in Los Angeles, California. She is buried in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale, Calif.
- Albuquerque, New Mexico Journal, "The Slippers, James, and Draw Up an Armchair Before the Fire for Mr. Harry Richman", July 16, 1939, Page 16.
- Fresno Bee, "Where Fifty Million Dollars Works For $7.50 A Day", August 12, 1934, Page 36.
- Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Times, "Millionaire Weds Beauty in Maryland Town Saturday", May 12, 1931, Page 2.
- Kingsport, Tennessee Times, "Carroll One Up", January 1, 1929, Page 1.
- Lincoln Star, "Miss United States of 1926 Wedded for Second Time at 21", May 12, 1931, Page 11.
- Lowell, Massachusetts Sun, "Dorothy Kilgallen", March 13, 1942, Page 69.