Born in Brooklyn, New York, Golden sang in school and church choirs as a child. Her father died at age 52 and her mother died in 1974, at the age of 42.
Golden began her career as the lead singer of The Shirts (which headlined CBGB's in the late 70s). During the early 1990s she performed as part of the duo Golden Carillo with Frank Carillo. They released three albums; Fire in Newtown, Toxic Emotion, and Back for More. She then returned to The Shirts.
Since then she has performed solo and with a band. She performs a revue of songs from her stage career along with originals called Annie Golden's Velvet Prison. In 1984, her song "Hang Up the Phone" was featured on the soundtrack of the film Sixteen Candles.
While with The Shirts she was discovered by Miloš Forman who gave her a part in Hair. She had featured roles on Cheers and Miami Vice. On Broadway, she has appeared in the 1977 revival of Hair, Leader of the Pack, Ah, Wilderness!, On the Town and The Full Monty. She had the title role in the workshop of the short-lived adaptation of Stephen King's novel Carrie. She also played the role of Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme in Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical Assassins Off-Broadway in 1990-1991. In 2003 she joined other original Off-Broadway cast members in a Reprise! (Los Angeles) concert production of Assassins. In 2007, she was stand-by for the two comic villain roles in the musical Xanadu on Broadway.
Golden has the distinct honor of having appeared in three separate versions of Hair; a Broadway revival in 1977, the motion picture in 1979 and a special benefit performance concert in 2004. Golden was the voice of Marina in the Don Bluth film The Pebble and the Penguin. In recent years, she has been seen in commercials for Coinstar, in which she portrays The Tooth Fairy.
She appeared in the musical film Temptation with actors Adam Pascal, Tony Award Winners Alice Ripley and Anika Noni Rose, and film actress Zoe Saldana and in 2009 had a small role in I Love You Phillip Morris, with actors Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey, playing a simple woman requiring legal assistance. In 2011, Golden starred with Peter Scolari in the world premiere of The Nutcracker and I. Comically playing the Sugar Rush Fairy (and three other roles) in this musical comedy featuring the music of Tchaikovsky and lyrics by Gerard Alessandrini, she and Scolari were compared in one review to the team of Imogene Coca and Sid Caesar.