While it has been popularly believed that she was either of Italian or Argentinian heritage, according to the Internet Movie Database, Roberta’s parents were Latvian refugees of Jewish ethnicity. The ‘Italian/Argentinean’ rumors originate from the fact that she plays a foreign character in the film Delinquent Schoolgirls, and misinformation deliberately put out by two photographers who wished to dissociate themselves from her. Roberta is said to have based the voice of her Delinquent Schoolgirls character on her mother, with whom she did not get along.
Born in Ohio, Roberta’s mother regarded her early developing daughter as a “freak” due to her large breasts, and thought she should be ashamed of her body. Parodying her mother’s voice in Delinquent Schoolgirls was Roberta’s revenge. According to people who met her, Roberta spoke with a normal American accent, in addition she was also fluent in Portuguese.
Roberta’s relationships with men were of a brief and turbulent nature, following repeat patterns of Roberta seeking deep emotional attachment with men who merely used and discarded her. She claimed to have had affairs with an actor from the film Planet of the Apes, and a faded television star who was to later die in mysterious circumstances in 1978. While few of her relationships lasted more than a couple of months, she did enjoy a longer one with the writer Gustav Hasford, author of “The Short Timers” later to be the inspiration for the film Full Metal Jacket.