Ford, Betty (1918–)

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Ford, Betty (1918–)

American first lady. Born Elizabeth Ann Bloomer, April 8, 1918, in Chicago, Illinois; dau. of William Stephenson (industrial supply salesman) and Hortense (Neahr) Bloomer; attended Bennington School of Dance at Bennington College; studied with Martha Graham in NY; m. William C. Warren (furniture dealer), 1942 (div. 1947); m. Gerald Ford (president of US), Oct 15, 1948; children: (2nd m.) Michael Ford (b. 1950); John Ford (b. 1952); Steven Ford (b. 1956); Susan Ford (b. 1957).

In the course of 10 months, went from being wife of House Minority Leader, to being wife of vice-president of US, to being wife of president of US, to being a sought-after first lady (1973–1974); blossomed into a gracious and capable first lady and an outspoken crusader for women's rights (1974–77); made her most significant and lasting contributions to the nation with her courage and honesty in dealing with personal tragedies, 1st breast cancer, then addiction to alcohol and drugs; established the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California (1982).

See also autobiographies (with Chris Chase) Betty: A Glad Awakening (Doubleday, 1987) and The Times of My Life (Harper & Row, 1978); and Women in World History.

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