Anna Q. Nilsson was born in southern Sweden in 1888. Her middle name, "Quirentia," is from Saint Quirinius Day. She did very well in school, graduating with highest marks. She was hired as sales clerk, so she could save money to pay her way America.
Once she arrived in America, she started working as a nursemaid and learned English quickly. Soon after, she started working as a model. In 1907, she was named "Most beautiful woman in America". Nilsson's modeling helped her get a role in the 1911 film Molly Pitcher.
Anna's best known films are: Seven Keys to Baldpate (1917), Soldiers of Fortune (1919), The Toll Gate and The Luck of the Irish (both 1920), and The Lotus Eater (1921).
She performed for the the Kalem studio for several years, ranked behind their top star Alice Joyce. In the twenties she performed for Paramount and First National. A serious horse-riding accident kept her from performing for almost two years.
In 1923, she portrayed "Cherry Malotte" in the second movie, The Spoilers.
With the beginning of "talkies", Nilsson's career went into a decline. She continued to perform in uncredited parts in the 1950's.
Her best known performance in a sound film as "herself", referred to as one of Swanson's "waxworks" in Sunset Boulevard (1950), where she has one small line.