Carroll was born in Detroit, Michigan, and nicknamed "Betty Jean" from an early age. Her father, Thomas F. "Tom" Carroll, Jr. , was an inventor, and her mother, Betty (McKinney) Carroll, was a retired Allen County, Indiana politician. Carroll was raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She attended Indiana University, where she was a Pi Beta Phi and a cheerleader and was crowned Miss Indiana University. In 1964, representing Indiana University, she won the Miss Cheerleader USA title. Carroll appeared on the mid-1980s edition of Card Sharks hosted by Bob Eubanks.