Nancy Reagan (born Anne Frances Robbins, July 6, 1921 – March 6, 2016) was a woman who was just as polarizing if not more polarizing of a person as her husband, Ronald Reagan. From actress, to first lady of California and the United States, and one of the most popular first ladies at that, Mrs. Reagan lead a full and interesting life until her passing.
She was born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921, but known as Anne. Her father was a car salesman, her mother, an actress. Nancy lived in Queens in her early life but moved to Maryland with her aunt and uncle after her parents divorced and her mother could not support the two of them. After her mother remarried the family finally settled down in Chicago.
When her mother remarried Anne also legally had her name to Nancy Davis, which is the name she used when she began her acting career in 1940. An interesting fact is that when Nancy Davis signed her contract with MGM she wrote her birth date as 7/6/23, shaving two years off her age, a common practice in Hollywood of the time.
Nancy was well received by movie goers by her charm and style. She often played the role of the loyal housewife or loving mother. And in fact Nancy told MGM the only reason she became a “career woman” was because she hadn’t found the right man to marry yet.
Nancy met Ronald Reagan in 1949. At the time Ronald was president of the Screen Actors guild. Nancy had come to Reagan to find out why she had found her name on a Hollywood blacklist but Reagan assured her that it was a mix up with a woman of the same name. The two began dating and their virtuosic life was called by some “the romance of a couple who have no vices”.
Ronald was skeptical about marriage, he had suffered a painful divorce just a year earlier. But, after three years he finally proposed to Nancy and the two were married the same year and had their first child as well.
Nancy Reagan was the First Lady of California during Ronald Reagan’s term of 1967-1975. She first brought controversy when she moved her family out of the Governer’s Mansion and into a suburban home after the Mansion was labeled a “firetrap”. The house was leased at the Reagan’s expense the move was considered snobbish. But Nancy always defended it saying it was better for her family. Many considered her a model first lady.
When Ronald Reagan ran for President of the United States Nancy was right alongside him helping manage his campaign. She held luncheons and spoke with senior citizens, and updated Ronald’s schedule. While in the White House as First Lady, Nancy was known for her grand renovations including the press briefing room and oval office.
Nancy was also a breast cancer survivor, and one of the strongest proponents in favor of mammograms in the country.
Nancy died March 6, 2016, just five days ago from the time this post was made. She was 94. She was one of the longest lived first ladies, second only to Betty Truman who was 97 at the time of her death.
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