Brooklyn born Roberta Schrift - she always claimed that Manhattan was her birthplace - was the only child of Benjamin Schrift, a New York lawyer and later film producer, and Katherine MacDonald, a Scottish beauty and face of the Brunswick Records label. Benjamin was the first cousin of Shirley Schrift, the double Oscar winning actress better known as Shelley Winters. Shelley had an obvious and loving influence on her little cousin, and made a lasting impression in the theatrical DNA of Roberta. Roberta graduated from the prestigious New York High School of the Performing Arts. Before Roberta turned twenty she was cast in the Broadway company of the Pulitzer Prize winning Rodgers & Hammerstein musical South Pacific. This led to a nationwide nightclub tour, two other Broadway shows - Sherry! and Cyrano, and a stint on NBC's TODAY show with Dave Garroway.
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