Fashion designer. Born Betsey Johnson on August 10, 1942, in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Johnson grew up in the nearby town of Terryville as a child, where she indulged in her two greatest loves: drawing and dance. She had a precocious talent for art, and throughout her youth, she trained in various styles of dance. In fact, it was a combination of these two interests that eventually led Johnson to fashion designing. She loved the elaborate costumes she wore for her dance recitals and spent many long afternoons sketching costume ideas. "What I tried to do was a combination of dance and art," she recalls. Johnson says that she settled on fashion designing when "I realized that making clothes is completing what a drawing can't be—going from two dimensional to reality."Johnson was a cheerleader in high school, and upon graduating in 1960 she decided to pursue her interests in art and design at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. But after one year at Pratt, she transferred to Syracuse University, where she proved a stellar student, graduating magna cum laude as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society in 1964.