Anita Linda was born Alice Buenaflor Lake in Pasay City, Manila, Philippines. Her parents were James Lake, an American mining engineer, and Gorgonia Buenaflor of Iloilo. She married actor Fred Cortes, with whom she has a son, actor Fred Cortes Jr.. She attended Polo Elementary School and graduated from Good Shepherd Convent High School. Before WWII, while watching a stage show at the Avenue Theater starring Leopoldo Salcedo, Lopito, among others, Alice, then a teenager remembers being called backstage by director Lamberto V. Avellana and being asked if she wanted to become an actress. There must have been something in her that the renowned director saw as she sat watching the show. She demurred that being Visayan she couldn't speak Tagalog. The director, nevertheless, told her to report for rehearsals for the next show and when she didn't appear had her fetched. This is how she became a stage actress and later a movie actress.