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Betty Ford

Elizabeth Bloomer Warren Ford

(1918 - )

First Lady from August 8, 1974 to January 20, 1977

Betty Ford

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
Betty Ford

 

In office
1982 – 2005
Succeeded by Susan Ford Bales

In office
August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
Preceded by Patricia Ryan Nixon
Succeeded by Rosalynn Carter

In office
December 6, 1973 – August 9, 1974
Preceded by Judy Agnew
Succeeded by Happy Rockefeller

Born April 8, 1918 (age 91)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Spouse(s) William G. Warren
(divorced; 1942-1947)
Gerald Ford
(widowed; 1948-2006)
Children Michael, Jack, Steven, Susan
Occupation First Lady of the United States
Activist
Feminist
Businesswoman
Dancer
Fashion model
Religion Episcopalian
Signature

Elizabeth Anne "Betty" Bloomer Ford (born April 8, 1918) is the widow of former United States President Gerald R. Ford and served as theFirst Lady of the United States from 1974 to 1977. As first lady, Betty Ford was active in social policy and shattered precedents as a politically active presidential wife (Time considered her "the most since Eleanor [Roosevelt]"). In the opinion of several historians, Betty had more impact upon history and culture than her husband.

Throughout her husband's term in office, she maintained high approval ratings despite some opposition from some conservative Republicanswho objected to her more moderate and liberal positions on social issues. Betty Ford was noted for raising breast cancer awareness with her 1974 mastectomy and was a passionate supporter of, and activist for, the Equal Rights Amendment. Pro-choice on abortion and a leader in the Women's Movement, she gained fame as one of the most candid first ladies in history, commenting on every hot-button issue of the time, including feminism, equal pay, ERA, sex, drugs, abortion, and gun control. She also raised awareness of addiction when she announced her long-running battle with alcoholism in the 1970s.

Following her White House years, she continued to lobby for the ERA and remained active in the Feminist Movement. She is the founder, and served as the first chairwoman of the board of directors of, the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse and addiction and is a recipient of theCongressional Gold Medal.

Contents

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 Early life and career

Born in Chicago as Elizabeth Anne Bloomer, she is the third child and only daughter of William Stephenson Bloomer Sr., a traveling salesman for Royal Rubber Co., and his wife, the former Hortense Neahr. She had two older brothers, Robert and William Jr., and living briefly in Denver, she grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she graduated from Central High School.

After the 1929 stock market crash, when Betty Bloomer was eleven, she began modeling clothes and teaching other children dances such as the foxtrot, waltz, and big apple. She studied dance at the Calla Travis Dance Studio, graduating in 1935.

When Bloomer was 16, her father died of carbon monoxide poisoning, reportedly while working on the family car in the Bloomers' garage; whether it was an accident or suicide remains unknown.[1] In 1933, after she graduated from high school, she proposed continuing her study of dance in New York City, but her mother refused. Instead, Bloomer attended the Bennington School of Dance in Bennington, Vermont, for two summers, where she studied under Martha Graham and Hanya Holm.

After being accepted by Graham as a student, Betty Bloomer moved to Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood and worked as a fashion model for the John Robert Powers firm in order to finance her dance studies. She joined Graham’s auxiliary troupe and eventually performed with the company at Carnegie Hall.

Her mother, now remarried to Arthur Meigs Godwin, opposed her daughter’s choice of a career and insisted that she move home, but Bloomer resisted. They finally came to a compromise: she would return home for six months, and if nothing worked out for her in New York, she would return to Michigan, which she did in 1941. She became the fashion coordinator for a local department store. She also organized her own dance group and taught dance at various sites in Grand Rapids; those she taught included children with disabilities.

 Marriages and family

The First family, in the Oval Office, 1974.

In 1942, Bloomer married William C. Warren, a furniture salesman, whom she had known since she was 12. Warren began selling insurance shortly after and the couple moved frequently because of his work. At one point, they lived in Toledo, Ohio, where she was employed at the department store Lasalle & Koch as a demonstrator, a job that entailed being a model and saleswoman. They had no children and divorced on September 22, 1947, on the grounds of incompatibility.

On October 15, 1948, Elizabeth Bloomer Warren married Gerald R. Ford Jr., a lawyer and World War II veteran, at Grace Episcopal Church, inGrand Rapids, Michigan. Ford was then campaigning for what would be his first of 13 terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the wedding was delayed until shortly before the elections because, as The New York Times reported, "Jerry was running for Congress and wasn't sure how voters might feel about his marrying a divorced ex-dancer."[2]

Married for 58 years, the couple had four children: Michael Gerald Ford (b. 1950), John Gardner Ford (nicknamed Jack, b. 1952), Steven Meigs Ford (b. 1956), and Susan Elizabeth Ford (b. 1957).

The Fords moved to the Virginia suburbs of the Washington, D.C., area and lived there for 25 years. Ford rose to become the highest-rankingRepublican in the House, then was appointed Vice President when Spiro Agnew resigned from that position in 1973. He became president in 1974, uponRichard M. Nixon's resignation in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

Betty and Gerald Ford were among the more openly loving and intimate First Couples in American history. Neither was shy about their mutual love and equal respect for one another, and were known to have a strong partnership, both personally and politically.[3]

 First Lady of the United States

 National power, influence, and candor

Vice President Gerald Ford

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