Sunday, March 6, 2016

Nancy Reagan 1921-2016

Nancy Reagan, the former actress and First Lady, has died of congestive heart failure at age 94, at her home in Los Angeles.  Her stepson Michael Reagan has stated in tribute, "She is once again with the man she loved."

Anne Frances Robbins has born on July 6, 1921 in New York City, the only child of car salesman Kenneth Seymour Robbins and his wife, actress Edith Luckett.  The couple separated soon after their daughter's birth and were divorced in 1928, after which Luckett sent Anne to Bethesda, Maryland to be raised by her sister Virginia and her husband Audley Gailbraith.  Luckett met and later married neurosurgeon Loyal Davis.  In 1935, Davis adopted Anne Robbins, whose name was changed to Nancy Davis.  She would later attend Girl's Latin School of Chicago and Smith College in Massachusetts, graduating from the latter in 1943.

After brief stints as a sales clerk and a nurse's aid, Davis pursued a career in acting, starting in 1945 in a stage production of Ramshackle Inn.  In 1949, she was signed to a seven-year contract by MGM.  That same year, after having dated actors such as Clark Gable, Robert Stack and Peter Lawford, she met Ronald Reagan.  They were married in 1952, and had two children, Patricia Ann Reagan (better known as Patti Davis), born in 1952, and Ronald Prescott Reagan, born in 1958.  Nancy Reagan also became stepmother to Maureen Reagan and Michael Reagan (who had been adopted), Ronald Reagan's children from his previous marriage to Jane Wyman.

Due to her husband's political success, Nancy Reagan became First Lady of California and later of the United States.  In the latter role, she became known for her anti-drug "Just Say No" campaign.  She was also known for being his "chief protector" and for having a large influence on his activities while in office.  She often sought advice from astrologer Joan Quigley, which led to friction with White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan, who would eventually resign.

After leaving the White House, the Reagans moved to the Bel Air section of Los Angeles, also spending time at the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara, California.  She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 by President George W. Bush, with whom she disagreed over federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.  She made many appearances on behalf of her husband, whose health became progressively worse due to Alzheimer's disease, until he died in June of 2004.  She will be buried next to him at his Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times, The Hill, ABC News, NBC News and AOL.

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