Betty Jean Morrow was born on 7 August 1931 in Hammond, Lake County, Indiana, to William Samuel Morrow and Lilyan Mable Wheeler. The family moved from Hammond to Evansville, Indiana, in about 1938. After William and Lilyan divorced in April 1939, Lilyan moved to Michigan, requiring Betty and her brother Billy to shuttle back and forth between Evansville and Michigan.
The constant juggling was hard on Betty, but she noted that it forced her and her brother to grow up fast and become relatively self-sufficient, both emotionally and financially. “Thank God I had my brother,” she said. Betty and her brother were so close, in fact, that unknowing observers often thought they were dating.