Barbara Herzstein was born on February 5, 1948 in Hollywood, California. She is the daughter of Melrose (née Moore) and Arnold Nathan Herzstein. Her father, a horse racing columnist, was Jewish (his parents emigrated from Hungary and Russia) and her mother, a native of Arkansas, was a Presbyterian of Irish descent.

The youngest of three children, Barbara always wanted to be an actress. Her family nicknamed her "Sarah Bernhardt". She was shy in school and so quiet that people thought she was deaf.

Barbara Hershey's Family Tree