Helen's professional career began when Lew Fields, of the comedy team Weber and Fields, saw her impersonation of the Gibson Girl from Ziegfeld Follies. He told the theater manager that if she would like a career when she was older, he wanted to be the first in line. After a few years and some extra French lessons (to reassure Essie that Helen would become a lady), mother and daughter headed to Lew Fields' office in New York City. After being shown a photograph of Helen in her Gibson Girl getup, Fields remembered Helen and signed her to be in Old Dutch at the age of eight. Helen became the favorite little star of Broadway actors and producers like Fields, John Drew and George Tyler, learning more from their example and advice than she felt she ever would have in acting school.
The first play for which Helen received media attention was Pollyanna. Though she was still playing a young girl while she was actually 17, Helen was the leading lady and got respect for her work. She even made an audience of rough-and-tumble ranchers in Montana break out in tears. This was the point at which she became an "adult" actress. A year later, she brought Broadway audiences to their feet in the fantasy play Dear Brutus. A review in The New York Times called Helen's performance "a wonderful blending of dream beauty and girlish actuality." From that moment on, she would