Carolyn (Gold) Heilbrun was born on January 13, 1926, in East Orange, New Jersey, the only child of Archibald and Estelle (Roemer) Gold. Her father, who came to America from Russia around 1900 as a destitute, Yiddish-speaking child, became a certified public accountant and rose to riches as a partner in a brokerage firm. He lost his wealth in the Depression, and in 1932 the family moved to Manhattan on borrowed money. Although Carolyn’s father gradually rebuilt his fortune, her mother remained deeply traumatized by the family’s sudden loss of security and social status. Born in America to religious Austrian-Jewish parents as the first of seven children, Estelle Roemer cut her ties to the Jewish world as a young woman. According to Heilbrun, she “identified all that limited her life as Judaism.” Archibald Gold, whom she married in 1919 when both were twenty-three years old, had also distanced himself from his Jewish past.