Katharine Juliet Ross was born January 29, 1940, in Hollywood, CA, to Katherine (née Mullen) and Dudley Tying Ross. Her father, who had also worked as a reporter for the Associated Press, was a commander in the US Navy when she was born. His navy career shuttled the family around to Virginia, then Palo Alto, and finally to Walnut Creek, outside of San Francisco, where Ross grew up.
Ross graduated from Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek in 1957 and attended Santa Rosa Junior College and Diablo Valley College in the Bay Area, where she took part in her first onscreen work in a student film. Moving to San Francisco, into an apartment on Stockton Street above a grocery store, she began her acting career as an understudy in Actor's Workshop productions, and was soon auditioning for roles. She was also married in 1960 to college sweetheart Joel Fabiani, the first of five husbands.
Work came steadily for Ross, at first mainly in television westerns, and indeed Westerns would make up the