The first man to influence Barbara's life was her father, showbiz impresario Lou Walters. In the '30s, Lou opened the first of his famous nightclubs, the Latin Quarter. During his reign as the nightclub king of New York, Barbara says her father, a gambler at heart, made and lost several fortunes.
"I had a troubled relationship with my father because he wasn't around that much," she says. "I appreciate him so much now."
Barbara's mother, Dena, was very different from her father. In her memoir, Barbara describes her mother as practical and somewhat depressed. Lou may have been well-known and respected by the big shots of that era, but Dena was the strong one at home. "[She] was a Rock of Gibraltar," Barbara says.
Dena didn't just shoulder her family's financial worries. During Lou's travels, she raised Barbara and Jackie, the family's eldest child, by herself. Barbara says her sister was diagnosed as "backward" at a young age and considered mildly retarded.
Known for years simply as "Lou Walters's daughter," Barbara says she always knew there would come a day when her father's financial risks would catch up with him.