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Ann Frances (Nancy) Davis Reagan

(1921 - )

First Lady from January 20, 1981 to January 20, 1989

Nancy Reagan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
Nancy Reagan

 

In office
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
Preceded by Rosalynn Carter
Succeeded by Barbara Bush

First Lady of California
In office
January 3, 1967 – January 7, 1975
Preceded by Bernice Layne Brown
Succeeded by None

Born July 6, 1921 (age 88)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Spouse(s) Ronald Reagan (1952–2004, his death)
Relations Kenneth Seymour Robbins and Edith Luckett[1][2]; adopted by stepfather Loyal Davis
Children Patti, Ron
Alma mater Smith College
Occupation Actress, First Lady of the United States
Religion Presbyterian
Signature

Nancy Davis Reagan (born Anne Frances Robbins; July 6, 1921) is the widow of former United States President Ronald Reagan and served as an influential First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989. She was born in New York; her parents divorced soon after her birth and she grew up in Maryland, living with an aunt and uncle while her mother pursued acting jobs. As Nancy Davis, she was an actress inHollywood in the 1940s and 1950s, starring in films such as Donovan's Brain, Night into Morning, and Hellcats of the Navy. In 1952 she married Ronald Reagan, who was then president of the Screen Actors Guild, and they had two children. Nancy was the First Lady of Californiawhen her husband was Governor from 1967 to 1975. In that capacity, she began work with the Foster Grandparents Program.

Nancy Reagan became First Lady of the United States in January 1981 following her husband's victory, but was criticised early in his first term largely due to her decision to replace the White House china. Nancy restored a Kennedy-esque glamour to the White House following years of lax formality, and her interest in high-end fashion garnered much attention, as well as criticism. She championed recreational drug preventioncauses by founding the "Just Say No" drug awareness campaign, which was considered her major initiative as first lady. Always protective of her husband, more controversy ensued when it was revealed in 1988 that she had consulted an astrologer to assist in planning the president's schedule after the 1981 assassination attempt on her husband.

The Reagans retired to their home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California in 1989. Nancy devoted most of her time to caring for her ailing husband, diagnosed in 1994 with Alzheimer's disease, until his death in 2004. Nancy Reagan has remained active within the Reagan Library and in politics, particularly in support of stem-cell research.

Contents

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 Early life

Anne Frances Robbins was born on July 6, 1921,[3][4] at Manhattan's Sloane Hospital for Women in New York,[5][6] the only child of car salesman Kenneth Seymour Robbins (1894–1972)[7] and his actress wife, Edith Luckett (1888–1987).[1][2][8] Her godmother was silent-film-starAlla Nazimova.[9] She lived for her first two years in Flushing, Queens, in New York.[10] While her parents divorced soon after her birth, they had already been separated for some time.[11] As her mother traveled the country to pursue acting jobs, Nancy was raised in Bethesda, Maryland, for the next six years by her aunt Virginia and uncle Audley Gailbraith.[12] Nancy describes longing for her mother during those years: "My favorite times were when Mother had a job in New York, and Aunt Virgie would take me by train to stay with her."[13]

In 1929, her mother married Loyal Davis (1896–1982), a prominent, politically conservative neurosurgeon who moved the family to Chicago.[3] Nancy and her stepfather got along very well;[14] she would later write that he was "a man of great integrity who exemplified old-fashioned values".[15] He formally adopted her in 1935,[3] and she would always refer to him as her father.[14] At the time of the adoption, her name was legally changed to Nancy Davis (since birth, she had commonly been called Nancy).[11] She attended the Girls' Latin School of Chicago (describing herself as an average student), graduated in 1939, and later attended Smith College in Massachusetts, where she majored in English and drama and graduated in 1943.[8][16]

 Acting career

Nancy Davis poses for a publicity photo, 1950

Following her graduation, Davis held jobs in Chicago as a sales clerk in Marshall Field's department store and as a nurse's aide.[8] With the help of her mother's colleagues in theatre, including Zasu Pitts, Walter Huston, and Spencer Tracy,[14] she pursued a career as a professional actress. She first gained a part in Pitts' 1945 road tour of Ramshackle Inn,[3]

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