Shirlee Taylor Haizlip was born in Stratford, Connecticut and grew up in Ansonia, Connecticut. She graduated from Wellesley College, taught sociology at Tufts University and studied Urban Planning at the Harvard University School of Design. Haizlip was the first woman to manage a CBS television affiliate, WBNB-TV in St.Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. From there she went to WNET TV, Channel 13 in New York City and became one of its corporate officers. Haizlip moved to Los Angeles, California in 1989 to become the National Director of the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute, an organization which advocated and distributed funding for more than 139 film archives around the country. Haizlip left the Preservation Center to begin writing her book, The Sweeter the Juice, which the New York Times recognized as a notable book of the year. Haizlip married Harold C. Haizlip in 1959 and the couple had two daughters.