Reagan, Nancy (1921–)
Reagan, Nancy (1921–)
American actress and first lady. Born Anne Frances Robbins, July 6, 1921, in New York, NY; dau. of Kenneth Robbins (insurance salesman) and Edith (Luckett) Robbins Davis (actress); Smith College, BA, 1943; m. Ronald Reagan (actor and later president of US), Mar 4, 1952; children: Patricia Anne Reagan, known as Patti (b. 1952), and Ronald Prescott Reagan (b. 1958); (stepchildren) Maureen Reagan (1941–2001) and Michael Reagan.
Signed 7-year contract with MGM (1949); starred in The Next Voice You Hear (1950), but failed to garner much attention; made 11 films (1950s), including Night into Morning (1951) and Hellcats of the Navy (1957), in which she co-starred with husband; when he served as governor of California (1966–74), became active in Foster Grandparents Program; after moving into White House (1981), endured a constant stream of criticism and controversy ranging from her clothes, wealthy friends, extravagance, and plans to redecorate the White House; was also accused of usurping husband's power, of taking control of the actions and appointments of the executive branch; after husband was shot by would-be assassin John Hinckley (Mar 30, 1981), admitted that the psychological effects of the shooting lasted throughout the 8 years she spent as first lady (1981–89); launched drug-abuse program, "Just Say No," which remained her cause for next 7 years; out of the White House, began to reap far more respect from the public; enjoyed a few good years before the former president was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (1994); remains active in causes, including Alzheimer's research, her anti-drug campaign, and speaking out for stem-cell research.
See also (with William Novak) My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan (Random House, 1989) and I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan (Random House, 2000); Kitty Kelley, Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorized Biography (Simon & Schuster, 1991); Frances Spatz Leighton, The Search for the Real Nancy Reagan (Macmillan, 1987); Chris Wallace, First Lady: A Portrait of Nancy Reagan (St. Martin, 1986); and Women in World History.