Rose was born on January 16, 1896 to a playwright, Edward E. Rose. At age 14 she first appeared on the Broadway stage doing various ingenue parts. In 1926, Rose was working as the official historian on a New York Geological Society expedition to the Galapagos Islands. Ernest Schoedsack was working as a cinematographer on that same expedition, just after he had made the film A Nation's Battle for Life (1925) with Merian C. Cooper. Rose and Schoedsack met there and fell in love. In 1926 they were married. She joined Schoedsack and Cooper in some of their other adventures and productions, including the film Chang (1927).
In the early 1930s, Cooper began to make his film King Kong. He had already gotten two other writers to work on Kong. The first one, Edgar Wallace, died before he could make any significant changes, and the second, James Creelman, wrote a screenplay that was too slow-paced, descriptive, and had too much flowery dialogue according to Cooper. So he hired Rose to rework it. Rose cut out many of the long, unimportant scenes that Creelman had written to make it more fast-paced. She also based the character of Carl Denham on Merian Cooper and Jack Driscoll she based on her husband, Ernest Schoedsack. It was now more like one of the earlier Cooper-Schoedsack adventures.
After the success of King Kong, Rose wrote several other movies including Blind Adventure, Son of Kong, She, The Last Days of Pompeii, and Mighty Joe Young, another giant ape adventure. Her Kong screenplay was the basis for two remakes of King Kong, one in 1976 and one in 2005. Rose did not write any more films before her death on June 8, 1978, although, she did many rewrites and dialogue changes down through the years. She was survived by her husband and her only child, Peter, born in 1929 with cerebral palsy.