Rona Barrett was born in Manhattan. Starting in show business at an early age, she was 13 when she became the nationwide coordinator of singer Eddie Fisher’s fan clubs, and even got a surprise visit from singer Steve Lawrence at her 16th birthday party. She majored in pre-law at college until her uncle, a judge, advised her to switch to journalism.
Rona became an entertainment columnist for the Bell-McClure newspaper syndicate in 1957. In 1966, she began broadcasting Hollywood entertainment news on the Los Angeles television station KABC-TV. She appeared on TV regularly, going on to appear on ABC’s 5 owned and operated stations around the country. She developed the first in-depth personal TV specials about the celebrities of motion pictures, television, music, sports and politics, and had a series of magazines on the entertainment industry that were top-rated at newsstands, including Rona Barrett’s Hollywood. As such, she paved the way for many entertainment reporters who followed in her footsteps.
Rona penned several books including an autobiography, Miss Rona, which was published in 1974. Rona began appearing on Good Morning America in 1975. She was signed in 1980 to co-host NBC’s Tomorrow. In 1986, she bought a ranch in Santa Ynez, California, and began commuting back and forth to Los Angeles. In 1991, she retired full-time to her ranch, where she began planting fields of lavender and began her philanthropic endeavors.
In 2000, Rona created The Rona Barrett Foundation, a non-profit organization, which develops and supports affordable housing as well as related services and care to Seniors in Need. The Foundation also educates and advocates on behalf of a rapidly growing senior population.
The Rona Barrett Foundation is in the process of raising funds to build a pilot living facility called The Golden Inn & Cottages, which will serve as a model for similar housing across the country.