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Nancy Reagan

Nancy Reagan was the First Lady of the United States when her husband Ronald Reagan held office from 1981 to 1989. Prior to her marriage, she was a film actress. She has been involved with a number of charitable groups, including the Foster Grandparent Program. Beginnings Nancy Reagan was born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921 in New York City. Her parents were Kenneth Seymour Robbins and Edith Luckett. They divorced when she was a young child. Her mother then married Loyal Davis, a neurosurgeon, when Anne was six years old. She was adopted by Davis and grew up in Chicago, Illinois. Anne received her formal education at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. from 1925 to 1928; Girl's Latin School, Chicago, 1929-1939; and Smith College of Northampton, Massachusetts, 1939-1943, graduating with a bachelor's degree in dramatic arts. From stage to screen Shortly after graduation, Anne toured with a road company and landed a role on Broadway in the musical, Lute Song, starring Yul Brynner and Mary Martin. In 1949, she accepted a seven-year contract with Metro Goldwyn Mayer, and relocated to Hollywood. She was billed as Nancy Davis. Her first screen role was in Shadow on the Wall. Between 1949 and 1956, Nancy appeared in 11 movies. Other films include The Next Voice You Hear and East Side, West Side. After her contract was up with MGM, Nancy went on to play opposite Ronald Reagan in 1957, in Hellcats of the Navy. Ronnie Nancy met Ronald Reagan in 1951, when he was president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Another actress with the same name had appeared on the Hollywood Blacklist, and Nancy was put in contact with Reagan to help get her name off the list. The couple was married in March 1952. They had a simple wedding in the Little Brown Church in San Fernando Valley, California. Nancy would later say, “My life really began when I married my husband." The couple had two children, Patti, born in 1952, and Ron, who was born in 1958. Nancy also was stepmother to Michael Reagan and the late Maureen Reagan, the children of Ronald’s first marriage to Jane Wyman. First Lady of California and the nation Nancy became the First Lady of California in 1967 when her husband was elected governor. He held the position for two terms. Nancy spent numerous hours working with various charitable groups, as well as visiting the elderly, disabled, and veterans. She also became involved with the Foster Grandparents Program, which she wrote about in her book, To Love A Child (1982). Nancy became First Lady of the United States in 1981 when Ronald was elected president. She put her focus on making the White House a home. She used private funds to underwrite the work. She ordered new china because of all the breakage since the Johnsons bought china 15 years earlier. Remodeling, new china, and attending the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, created a temporary public relations muddle. With remodeling behind her in 1982, Nancy continued her work with the Foster Grandparents program; however, her primary project became the promotion of drug education and prevention programs for children and young adults. Nancy expanded her drug awareness campaign to an international level in April 1985 when she invited the wives of world leaders to attend her White House conference on drug abuse. In October 1986, President Reagan signed the “National Crusade for a Drug-Free America” anti-drug abuse bill into law. Nancy considered it to be a personal victory and broadcast a joint address to the nation with her husband. In October 1988, she delivered a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, to address international drug interdiction and trafficking laws. Following the assassination attempt on President Reagan on March 30, 1981, Nancy made it her business to know his schedule, and where he would speak. She hired an astrologer to tell her what days and times would be safe and what days would be potentially dangerous. Nancy did not usually get involved in specific policymaking; however, she promoted the idea of the president forming a personal relationship with incoming Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev when he assumed power in 1985. She believed it only made sense that the two leaders were at least in open dialogue with each other. The friendship and political negotiations resulted in the INF Treaty in 1987. The treaty proved to be the crowning moment for the Reagan administration and was later considered by many to be an important step in the breakup of Soviet communism. All of that took place at the same time Nancy discovered she had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Nancy published her memoirs, My Turn, in 1989, and established the Nancy Reagan Foundation to support such educational agendas as the Nancy Reagan Afterschool Program, a drug-prevention and life-skills program for youth. The curtain slowly drops In 1994, Nancy's husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The couple created and funded the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute in Chicago, a research affiliate of the National Alzheimer’s Association. She became the primary caregiver to her husband until his death in June 2004. Many regarded her as a pillar of strength during the long years of her husband's illness. Following his death, she became a public advocate for stem-cell research. Nancy Reagan currently resides in the Bel Air community of Los Angeles, California.