On March 10, 1927, she was born Barbara Ann Blakeley in Bosworth, Missouri, the elder of two daughters. Her parents were Charles Willis Blakeley (June 29, 1895 – October 5, 1989) and Irene Prunty (née Toppass) Blakeley (June 22, 1907 – December 15, 1993). At age 10, she moved with her parents and younger sister, Patricia, to Wichita, Kansas, where she was raised. In 1946, she graduated from Wichita North High School. At age 18, she moved to Long Beach, California.