Coleman was born in Mason, Ohio (just north of Cincinnati, Ohio) to Pierce ("Percy") and Grace (Slayback) Coleman. Her father, Percy Coleman, was a former Major League Baseball pitcher from Mason. The name "Majel" means "wood dove."
Majel, who was a beauty contest winner in her hometown, went to Hollywood in 1921 after high school. Coleman wanted to work for Cecil B. Demille in particular. When she could not find a way to get his attention, she lost interest in working for other movie studios. Then a chance happening changed Coleman's future.
Demille noticed Coleman when a small stray dog followed her home and became intimidated by her police dog. The little dog jumped off her porch and broke its leg on the cement below. It continued on across the street with Coleman pursuing. A car driven by the film producer almost ran over the red haired beauty. Together Demille and Coleman took the puppy to the hospital.
Demille then signed Coleman to a movie contract in March 1925. He made tests and arranged for her to act in small parts in his next films.
Coleman's hands became an ideal of perfection, beginning with film screen tests which revealed their beauty, and she was often a hand double in movies. She was listed among the 14 most beautiful women in the world in 1926 along with Sally Rand, Etta Lee, Eugenia Gilbert, Jocelyn Lee, Sally Long, Clara Morris, Olive Borden, Christina Montt, Adalyn Mayer, Thais Valdemar, Yola D'Avril, and Dorothy Seastrom.
Her early motion picture efforts include roles in Bluebeard's Eighth Wife (1923) and several Harry Carey westerns, Soft Shoes (1925) and West of Broadway (1926). In Corporal Kate (1926) Coleman stars with Vera Reynolds and Julia Faye. The setting is Rivecourt, France, a town almost totally destroyed by the German offensive of August–September 1918, during World War I. The American 7th Machine Gun Battalion fought there.
In 1927, Coleman played Procula, the wife of Pontius Pilate, in Demille's production of King of Kings. Her last films include roles in The Girl In The Glass Cage (1929) and Romance of the Rio Grande (1929).
Coleman made many promotional appearances at automobile shows and other events. She was once photographed demonstrating a Velvetone eliminator. The little black box was invented by Harry Houdini and did away with the need for B batteries in radio reception.
- Denton, Maryland Journal, At The Palace Theater, February 27, 1926, Page 2.
- Havre, Montana Daily News Promoter, Movie Sidelights, September 17, 1926, Page 6.
- Los Angeles Times, Screen-Struck Mutt's Hard Luck Results In De Mille Contract For Young Actress, March 15, 1925, Page 25.
- Los Angeles Times, Device Named Heart Of Radio, October 24, 1926, Page B8.
- Los Angeles Times, War Film Novel In Lack of Scene at Battlefields, October 31, 1926, Page C23.
- Los Angeles Times, Reverent Picture Seen Again, October 26, 1928, Page A9.
- Syracuse Herald, Hands Win Film Fame, July 8, 1927, Page 10.