Nancy Reagan

From Academic Kids

White House portrait
White House portrait

Nancy Davis Reagan born July 6, 1921 is the widow of President Ronald Reagan and was First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989. She was an actress prior to her marriage.

She was born Anne Frances Robbins in New York, New York to Kenneth Seymour Robbins and his actress wife, Edith Luckett. When she was six, her mother married Dr. Loyal Davis, a neurosurgeon. Dr. Davis adopted Nancy, and she grew up in Chicago. She was also god-daughter of Russian -born silent film star Alla Nazimova. She received her formal education at Girls' Latin School and at Smith College in Massachusetts, where she majored in theater.

Soon after graduation she became a professional actress. She toured with a road company, then landed a role on Broadway in the hit musical Lute Song. More parts followed. One performance drew an offer from Hollywood. Billed as Nancy Davis, she performed in 11 films from 1949 to 1956. Her first screen role was in Shadow on the Wall. Other releases included The Next Voice Your Hear... and East Side, West Side. In her last movie, Hellcats of the Navy, she played opposite her husband.

Nancy and Ronald Reagan married in 1952.
Nancy and Ronald Reagan married in 1952.

She met Ronald Reagan in 1951, when he was president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and an actress with the same name had appeared on the communist blacklist. This name confusion with the other actress was a concern of Nancy Davis in maintaining her employment as a SAG actress in Hollywood and she was put in contact with Reagan for help in getting her name off this list. As anti-communist sentiment ran very high in the United States, those who made a living in the motion picture industry usually were effectively "blacklisted" - not given work - by being labelled potential communists. (See McCarthyism) In the following year they were married in a simple ceremony in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles in the Little Brown Church in the Valley. Mrs. Reagan soon retired from making movies.

The Reagans had two children born from their marriage: daughter Patti (referred to as Patti Davis - her professional name) born October 21,1952, born seven months after the couple's wedding, and son Ron Reagan born May 20, 1958). Nancy Reagan is also stepmother to Michael Reagan and the late Maureen Reagan, the children of Ronald Reagan's first marriage to actress Jane Wyman.

Reagan is well-remembered for conservative fashions emulated by many women of the time, for championing the "Just Say No" campaign against juvenile drug use, and for her personal use of astrology. She had, in fact, a personal astrologer named Joan Quigley during her time as First Lady; the astrologer(s) were particularly used after the assassination attempt when she became nothing short of obsessed with her husband's personal safety. It finally became a major embarrassment, as it was disclosed that Nancy influenced the White House time schedule of her husband. Days were color-coded according to the astrologer's advice, being classified as "good" days, "neutral" days or days that should be avoided. The White House Chief of Staff, Donald Regan (of no relation to her husband), finally became extremely frustrated with this irrational and detrimental regime, causing a power struggle between Regan and the First Lady. Donald Regan resigned in 1987.

She currently resides in Bel-Air, California where she had tended the former President who, before his death on June 5, 2004, was debilitated by Alzheimer's disease. Reagan has broken Republican Party lines and urged president George W. Bush to support embryonic stem cell research in the hopes that such research would lead to a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

On June 16, 2005, while vacationing in London, she slipped and fell in her hotel room. She was taken to the hospital in some pain, but was not injured, and was released within hours.

Preceded by:
Rosalynn Carter
First Lady of the United States
Succeeded by:
Barbara Bush

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