Piper Laurie was born Rosetta Jacobs in Detroit, Michigan, on January 22, 1932, to Charlotte Sadie (Alperin) and Alfred Jacobs, a furniture dealer. Her father was a Polish Jewish immigrant and her mother was of Russian Jewish descent.
Piper Laurie was born Rosetta Jacobs in Detroit, Michigan, on January 22, 1932, to Charlotte Sadie (Alperin) and Alfred Jacobs, a furniture dealer. Her father was a Polish Jewish immigrant and her mother was of Russian Jewish descent. Her father moved the family to Los Angeles, California, when she was 6-years-old. Rosetta was a pretty red-haired little girl, but very shy, so her parents sent her to weekly elocution lessons. In addition to her lessons in Hebrew school, she studied acting at a local acting school, and this eventually led to work at Universal Studios. Universal had signed her as a contract player when she was only 17-years-old, and changed her screen name to Piper Laurie. She was cast in the movie, Louisa (1950), and became very close friends with her costar, Ronald Reagan. She was then cast in Francis Goes to the Races (1951) with Donald OConnor, Son of Ali Baba (1952) with Tony Curtis, and Aint Misbehavin (1955) with Rory Calhoun. The studio tried to enhance her image as an ingénue with press releases stating that she took milk baths and ate gardenia petals for lunch. Although she was making $2,000 per week, her lack of any substantial roles discouraged her so much that by 1955 when she received another script for a Western and another silly part in a silly movie, she dropped the script in the fireplace, called her agent and told him she didnt care if they fired her, jailed her or sued her. From there, she went to New York City to study acting, and worked on live television, starring in The Hallmark Hall of Fame version of Twelfth Night (1957), The Days of Wine and Roses (1958) with Cliff Robertson, which debuted on Playhouse 90 on October 2, and as Kirsten in the Playhouse 90 version of Winterset (1959). In 1961, she got the part of Paul Newmans crippled girlfriend in the classic film, The Hustler (1961).