Quentin Young Papers, 1964-1975

Biography/History

Author and television journalist Betty Rollin was born on January 3, 1936 to Leon and Ida R. Rollin in New York City. She attended the Fieldston Ethical Culture School, Riverdale, New York, and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York, in 1957.

From 1956 to 1964 Rollin worked as a Broadway and television actress in New York City and Hollywood, California. During this time she wrote several books I Thee Wed (1961) and Mothers Are Funnier Than Children (1964) and sold freelance articles to McCall's. In 1964 Rollin became associate feature editor of Vogue and in the following year she became a senior editor of Look, continuing in that position until the magazine's demise in 1971. One article by Rollin published by Look, “The Motherhood Myth,” attracted more reader reaction than any previous story in the magazine's history and was reprinted in several college texts. Also during this period Rollin wrote a third book: The Non-Drinker's Drink Book (1966).

Shortly after Look's demise Rollin began working for NBC News as a reporter on First Tuesday, a monthly news magazine, and as a theatre critic for WNBC-TV. In 1973 she began network reporting for NBC Nightly News and Today. She also worked for several news specials including “The American Family: An Endangered Species?” and developed the program Women Like Us.

In 1975, after reporting on Betty Ford's mastectomy, Rollin was herself diagnosed as having malignant breast cancer. During her recovery from this surgery she divorced her husband, Arthur Herzog III, whom she had married in 1972. In 1976 Rollin's experiences with breast cancer became the subject of the best-selling book First, You Cry. Several years later MTM brought the rights to the book, and in 1987 Mary Tyler Moore appeared as Rollin in a made-for-television movie based on her story. Both the book and film generated much public interest.

Rollin also found inspiration for two subsequent books in the events of her own life. In 1982 Am I Getting Paid for This? A Romance About Work discussed her career and marriage during an era in which women were hampered by stereotypes. Another book, Last Wish, recounted her mother's battle with terminal cancer and her role in her mother's suicide.

From 1982 to 1984 Rollin worked as a network correspondent with Nightline, the ABC evening news program. In the 1980s Rollin returned to print journalism, writing a column entitled “Hers” for the New York Times, and in 1985 she returned to NBC in the capacity of contributing correspondent.