Nancy Reagan, first lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989, died of congestive heart failure Mar. 6 at her home in Bel-Air, Calif. She was 94.
Born Anne Frances Robbins in New York City in 1921, young Nancy (her nickname) was adopted in 1935 by a prominent Chicago neurosurgeon, Loyal Davis, after he married Nancy's mother.
A 1943 Smith College graduate, Reagan appeared on Broadway and then secured a contract with MGM studios in 1949. A doe-eyed beauty, she won critical plaudits but missed stardom.
“I was never really a career woman but [became one] only because I hadn’t found the man I wanted to marry,” she said in 1975. “I couldn’t sit around and do nothing, so I became an actress.”
Nancy Davis found her man in 1949. Ronald Reagan, also a successful actor, had recently divorced Jane Wyman. Reagan and Davis wed in 1952. Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966 and president in 1980.
As first lady, Nancy Reagan became known for her couture, her privately funded restoration of the White House interior, and the elaborate state dinners she hosted. Her biggest contribution to policy was the “Just Say No” to drugs campaign. Behind the scenes, Reagan fiercely defended her husband, demanding the resignations of White House personnel she deemed insufficiently loyal.
“I’m a woman who loves her husband, and I make no apologies for looking out for his personal and political welfare,” she once said.
She turned the tables on her critics at a 1982 press gala by dressing up as a bag-lady and performing a self-deprecating song-and-dance routine that culminated in her smashing a replica of the new White House china.
After her husband revealed in 1994 that he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Reagan dedicated herself to his care until his death in 2004.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
Publication date: March 14, 2016