Barbara Norris was a sensible woman who believed in doing the right thing. After her husband, Stanley, left her and their children so that he could build his business up, she made a life for herself as a cooking columnist. Though she tried to instill the values of honesty and integrity in her children, the absence of a father figure damaged them all more than she could possibly realize. In 1970, Barbara expected her daughter, Holly, to attend college and was truly dismayed when Holly decided to forgo college in order to work for her now-discovered father. Though she tried to set Holly up with nice men, such as Peter Wexler, Holly resisted and grew irritated with her mother’s interference. Not only that, but Holly was involved in a relationship with Roger Thorpe, who Barbara recognized as a cad, though she was very attached to Roger's father, Adam. Barbara would prove to be right about Roger. In September 1971, Holly spotted Roger leaving Janet Mason's apartment and erroneously concluded that Roger and Janet slept together. To Barbara's delight, Holly accepted the friendship of the dependable Dr. Ed Bauer, while Ken started seeing the level headed Janet, who was coincidently Ed's old lover. In 1972, Barbara took it as a good sign when Ken married Janet. The following year, Barbara found happiness herself by marrying Roger's father, Adam. Although both Ken and Holly initially objected to the relationship since he was Roger's father, they both discovered that Adam was a good man and gave their blessing. Meanwhile, not long after, Barbara would breathe a sigh of relief when Holly married Ed. Having Janet and Ed as in-laws made Barbara very happy and she hoped that her own children could be so sensible.
Tragically marriage would bring out the worst in her children. Ken was intensely jealous of Janet's friendship with Ed. Not only jealous of Ed, he also resented the time Janet spent with their newborn daughter, Emily. Though Barbara warned her son to curb his violent temper, he refused to listen. Though Ken agreed to seek therapy when Janet threatened to leave him, unknown to everyone he stopped attending sessions. Unbeknownst to everyone, Ken's hatred of Ed was growing stronger with him fantasizing about murdering his self-perceived rival. In 1974, Barbara was horrified when Ken was blinded in a car accident. In addition to worrying about Ken, Barbara also constantly worried about Holly, who wasn't the responsible wife Barbara had hoped that she'd be. Seeing that Holly was acting resentful of Ed's long hours at the hospital, Barbara warned her that Ed was too good of a man to lose and tried to get her to mature. Meanwhile Ken's jealousy got the best of him and in the spring of 1975, Ken (whose eyesight had secretly returned) shot Ed. Following the shooting, Ken would slip into a catatonic state and spend the next several years in a mental hospital. Soon after, Janet would take Emily and move to California. Saddened by her son's condition, Barbara's life was brightened that July when Holly gave birth to a daughter, Christina Blake. Unfortunately, she would be horrified to learn that Chrissy wasn't Ed's child; she was Roger's! Though disappointed that Holly kept Chrissy's true parentage a secret, she stood by her and placed most of the blame on Roger. Months later when a repentant Roger married Peggy Scott, Barbara refused to attend the ceremony and continually complained every time Adam supported his son. Barbara's attitude toward Roger was grating on Adam. It wasn't bad enough that she refused to attend Roger and Peggy's wedding, but Adam was appalled when she actually threw Roger out of her house!
Finally Adam confronted Barbara about her attitude toward his son and was shocked to learn that Holly's newborn daughter, Chrissy, wasn't Ed's daughter but actually Roger's! Adam confronted Roger and refused to forgive him until Peggy convinced him otherwise. She stated that she had forgiven Roger as well and that he would need Adam's respect and love for him. So Adam decided to give Roger another chance. As for Barbara, she refused to forgive Roger and blamed him for all the problems in Holly's life, especially since Ed had left her. Even Ed himself wasn't able to convince her to put the past behind. Finally, they realized that their concern for their children was more important to them than their marriage and the problems continued. Finally by 1977, Adam had grown tired of Barbara's sanctimonious attitude and divorced her. Not long after, Barbara would find love again with Max Chapman, editor of the Springfield Journal and Holly's new boss. Max and Barbara became lovers and soon Barbara started noticing that Max was having difficulties at times breathing and so Barbara had to drag Max in to Cedars to be treated by cardiologist, Justin Marler. As Barbara expected, Dr. Marler stated that if Max continued the way he was he was destined for a heart attack. Despite the warnings of his doctor, Max refused to listen and as Justin predicted, he suffered a major heart attack in 1978. Finally, Max heeded Justin's advice that it might be a good idea for him to retire from the Journal and to possibly go to a spa in Europe. Max heeded Justin's advice and broke Barbara's heart by leaving. In 1979, when Roger raped and kidnapped Holly, Barbara felt vindicated about her hatred of him. After Roger fell off a cliff to his death in 1980, Barbara hoped that she and Adam would reconcile, but by then he was in love with psychiatrist Sara McIntyre.
Ironically Barbara's sanctimonious attitude toward Roger would come back to haunt her. Soon after Holly and Chrissy left town to live in Switzerland, Barbara's younger son, Andy, returned to Springfield and surprised Barbara by buying her her very own restaurant, The Copper Lantern. Unfortunately, Barbara's heart would break again when she learned that Andy wasn't the upstanding young man she thought he was. Learning that he'd secretly married the wealthy Trish Lewis, she refused to believe that he'd actually stolen her money. Meanwhile, Sara's files ended up disappearing and several Springfield citizens ended up being blackmailed. In 1981, Barbara was horrified when Andy confessed to the crimes and was arrested in front of her and several others. When Trish, who Andy had beaten and plied with liquor, was awarded the Copper Lantern as part of her divorce settlement, Barbara realized that she had no reason to stay in town, and left Springfield to live with Holly in Switzerland.
In July 1995, Holly (who had returned to Springfield) was about to marry journalist Fletcher Reade, and Fletcher arranged for Barbara to attend the wedding as a big surprise for Holly, who missed her mother. So Barbara returned to Springfield. She immediately liked Fletcher and stated that he was the right man for Holly. The wedding took place at Ed's house and when (a not-so-dead) Roger arrived to stop the wedding; Barbara stepped in front of him and warned him not to ruin Holly's life again. Roger accused her of was playing Holly's "protector" just like she did in the past. After Roger left, Barbara was dismayed that Blake (Christina) comforted Roger instead of Holly. A few months later, Barbara learned from Fletcher that Holly was pregnant and after some encouragement from Fletcher, Barbara decided to return to Springfield and move in with Holly and Fletcher. Holly, on the other hand, had problems dealing with her pregnancy because she had to give up her job but Barbara stated that her pregnancy was worth it. Not long after, it was discovered that the baby would have Down-Syndrome and, while Barbara supported Holly and thought it was Holly's decision whether to keep the baby or not, she asked Blake not to interfere. In May 1996, Holly gave birth to Meg and later that year Barbara was also delighted to see Blake's newborn twins Kevin and Jason for the first time. With Holly's problems over, Barbara led a secluded life and left Springfield again in November for parts unknown. At some point, Barbara Norris returned to Europe by the end of 2006 since it was learned that her daughter Holly was visiting her there. Sadly, not long after, it was learned that Barbara had died.