Sills was born Belle Miriam Silverman in Brooklyn, New York, to
Shirley and Morris Silverman, of Russian-Jewish descent. When she
was three years old, she won a beautiful-baby contest after singing
The Wedding of Jack and Jill. Beverly's mother thought her
daughter had great musical talent so she took her to lessons in
dance and voice. Beverly Sills began taking lessons with a singing
teacher who encouraged her to audition for CBS' radio's Major
Bowes' Amateur Hour. She became a member of his entertainment
show and she was heard every Sunday across the nation.
Sills began to sing full-time in 1945. She starred in the Gilbert
and Sullivan national touring company and the following year appeared
in other operettas. When her father died in 1949, she and her mother
lived in a one-bedroom apartment. Beverly sang in a private club
to support them. Beverly became a member of the New York City Opera
in 1955. People really liked the way she sang and began to think
of her as a leading soprano opera singer.