Roger Campbell, born in 1942 in Portland, Oregon, was the only child of Alexander and Ann Campbell. He began figure skating at thirteen, when his family moved to Los Angeles. After a brief stint in singles, he focused fully on ice dancing. His coaches included Mabel Fairbanks, Bert Wright, and Bill Kipp. He and his first partner, Anna Marie Hansen, placed fifth in bronze dance at Pacific Coast. He won the silver medal with Diane Sherbloom in silver dance at the 1959 Nationals in Rochester, New York. When their partnership dissolved, he and his new partner, Yvonne Littlefield, placed third in gold dance at the 1960 Nationals. Roger and Yvonne, ages seventeen and fourteen, respectively, placed eighth at the 1960 World Championships in Vancouver.
Roger had competed locally in both pairs and dance with different partners in club competitions. Roger and Yvonne continued to train together, but an abrupt parting of the ways in September 1960—due to parental interference—caused Roger to form a new dance partnership with Dona Lee Carrier. In the 1961 season they swept the gold dance titles on the west coast, winning both the Southwest Pacific and Pacific Coast championships. They placed second at the 1961 U.S. Championships and two weeks later, in Philadelphia, Roger and Dona Lee again won the silver at the North American Championships. Roger’s mother Ann, who was very supportive of her son, was the only non-coaching parent who flew with her child to Prague.