An actress with a secret past runs away but is exposed by the reporter she befriends.
In London Stella Parish (Kay Francis) is starring in a new play. She warns Nana (Jessie Ralph) not to let her child Gloria (Sybil Jason) know of her past. Stephen Norman (Paul Lukas) asks her to marry, but she says no. He wonders why she avoids people and distrusts everyone. A man from her past returns and is surprised by her success. Stephen invites reporter Keith Lockridge (Ian Hunter) to his party but gets a telegram that Stella left. Lockridge questions Stella's maid over beer, pays her chauffeur to drive him to her retreat, and gets a ride to the steamship. Stella boards disguised as Gloria's aunt. She is going to New York to hide. On the ship Lockridge runs into her. Radio announces Stella's disappearance. His news editor gets a telegram from Lockridge. He gets Gloria to invite him to tea. At port Stella says good-bye to Lockridge.
Lockridge and two reporters follow Stella. In the park Lockridge meets Stella without her disguise. He play acts with Gloria and asks about her mother. He notes when and where the costumes were in storage and learns that she quit the stage in 1930 because of a guilty secret. Stella loves Lockridge and tells him who she is, how she was married and that her jealous husband killed her leading man, causing her baby to be born in prison. Stella was pardoned and went to England, where she met Stephen. Her husband appeared on opening night to blackmail her. Lockridge calls his editor and tries to stop his story; but it is too late. Reporters question Stella. Lockridge comes in, and she castigates him, though he tries to explain.
Stella tells a booking agent she will play her story. She tells Nana to take Gloria away, and she sends them money. Lockridge watches Stella in a prison play and walks out. Stella tells her agent Jed Duffy (Robert Strange) she needs more money, and she agrees to do burlesque. Stephen comes to take her to London to do the play he closed without her, offering to double her salary. Lockridge sent Stephen. Nana laughs at Lockridge's remorse; but Gloria cries for her mother and asks him to find her. Stella's return to the stage is protested and may be banned; but Lockridge gets her side of the story published in one paper. Stephen says Stella lacks confidence; but Nana and Gloria are in the audience. Lockridge brought them and tells her to prove she is an actress. In the final scene Stella goes on stage as Gloria cheers.
Hiding her traumatic past from her daughter causes Stella to be separated from her when her friend's reporting seems to betray her trust. Yet accepting the past and going on courageously promises a better future.