Born in Dickinson, North Dakota, Stickney attended the North Western Dramatic School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She sang and danced as one of the four Southern Belles in vaudeville and began acting in summer stock companies including Atlanta's Forsyth Players in the early 1920s before she married Howard Lindsay.
Stickney made her Broadway debut in 1926 in The Squall and had a string of hits, frequently playing eccentric characters. She was Liz, the mad scrubwoman, in the original nonmusical version of Chicago, and Mollie Molloy, who dives out of the pressroom window, in The Front Page. With increasingly important roles, she moved on to Philip Goes Forth, Another Language, On Borrowed Time, The Small Hours, To Be Continued and The Honeys.
Ms. Stickney received the Barter Award for Best Performance of the Year in 1940 for her role as "Vinnie" in Life with Father, which had been written by her husband, Lindsay, who also co-starred. The award was presented to her by Eleanor Roosevelt.
She also appeared in some films and TV programs, and wrote several poems including "You're Not the Type" and "My Dressing Room".
In 1961 she was the second inductee of the North Dakota Roughrider Award.One of her final roles was as a cast replacement Berthe in the original Broadway run of Pippin in 1976-77.
She died a few weeks before her 102nd birthday in New York City. She had no children and left no known heirs.