Basinger was born in Athens, Georgia, on 8 December 1953. Her mother, Ann Lee (née Cordell), was a model, actress, and swimmer who appeared in several Esther Williams films. Her father, Donald Wade Basinger, was a big band musician and loan manager; as a U.S. Army soldier, he landed in Normandy on D-Day. The third of five children, she has two brothers, Mick and Skip, and two sisters, Ashley and Barbara. Basinger’s ancestry includes English, German, French, Swedish, Scots-Irish, and possible Cherokee Native American. She was raised a Methodist. The relationship between her parents was tenuous, and her father’s critical nature affected her emotionally from a young age. She has said, “I just couldn’t please him enough. He never complimented me ever. And I saw a lot of silence. Children always read into silence as something terrible.” Basinger has described herself as extremely shy and lonely during her childhood, and has stated that she faced many hardships during her school years as a result.