Pleshette was born in New York City. Her mother, Geraldine, was a dancer and artist who performed under the stage name Geraldine Rivers. Her father, Eugene Pleshette, was a stage manager, network executive and manager of the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, New York. Pleshette was a cousin of Knots Landing actor John Pleshette. She graduated from Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts and then attended Syracuse University. She was once married to Troy Donahue. Pleshette, aged 70, died early in the evening of January 19, 2008 of respiratory failure at her Los Angeles home.