Anna-Lisa was born in Oslo, Norway, as Anna Lisa Ruud and worked there at the Central Theater. In 1954, she traveled to the United States to visit her brother, a travel agent in Hollywood, California. This led to an acting career in which she was cast in guest-starring roles in such western television series as Sugarfoot, Maverick, and Bronco, all of which were aired by ABC/Warner Brothers. She guest starred on the 1960 series, The Islanders, an adventure/drama set in the South Pacific, as well as on Bonanza (episode: "The Savage") and Gunsmoke.
Anna-Lisa then acquired a recurring role as Nora Travers in the ABC western series Black Saddle, with Peter Breck and Russell Johnson. Her success in Black Saddle resulted in roles in two spaceflight-themed feature films: the 1959 comedy Have Rocket, Will Travel and a year later in 12 to the Moon. She continued to appear in such television series as GE True, hosted by Jack Webb, until she left Hollywood to follow a career on the stage.
She appeared in an episode of The Millionaire in 1959, the episode .45 Caliber of Laramie (TV series), and a 1963 segment of Perry Mason, "The Case of the Velvet Claws" as Norma Vickers and a 1964 episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Among her last roles were in 1966 and 1970, respectively, as Huldah Swanson and Eleanora in the episodes "The Hat That Huldah Wore" and "The Man Who Planted Gold in California" of the syndicated series Death Valley Days. In the former segment, she played a young Swedish immigrant coming west to meet her intended husband for the first time. The episode focuses on her flowery hat in which she had stored more than $1,300 to help get a start in her new life. Tris Coffin appeared in this episode.