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ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE * FIRST LADIES



OUR FIRST LADIES:
18th Century
about_first_ladies_marthawashington Martha Washington
about_first_ladies_abigailadams Abigail Adams

19th Century
about_first_ladies_marthajefferson Martha Jefferson
about_first_ladies_dolleymadison Dolley Madison
about_first_ladies_elizabethmonroe Elizabeth Monroe
about_first_ladies_louisaadams Louisa Adams
about_first_ladies_racheljackson Rachel Jackson
about_first_ladies_hannahvanburen Hannah Van Buren
about_first_ladies_annaharrison Anna Harrison
about_first_ladies_letitiatyler Letitia Tyler
about_first_ladies_juliatyler Julia Tyler
about_first_ladies_sarahpolk Sarah Polk
about_first_ladies_margarettaylor Margaret Taylor
about_first_ladies_abigailfillmore Abigail Fillmore
about_first_ladies_janepierce Jane Pierce
about_first_ladies_harrietlane Harriet Lane
about_first_ladies_marylincoln Mary Lincoln
about_first_ladies_elizajohnson Eliza Johnson
about_first_ladies_juliagrant Julia Grant
about_first_ladies_lucyhayes Lucy Hayes
about_first_ladies_lucretiagarfield Lucretia Garfield
about_first_ladies_ellenarthur Ellen Arthur
about_first_ladies_francescleveland Frances Cleveland
about_first_ladies_carolineharrison Caroline Harrison
about_first_ladies_francescleveland Frances Cleveland
about_first_ladies_idamckinley Ida McKinley


20th Century
about_first_ladies_edithroosevelt Edith Roosevelt
about_first_ladies_helentaft Helen Taft
about_first_ladies_ellenwilson Ellen Wilson
about_first_ladies_edithwilson Edith Wilson
about_first_ladies_florenceharding Florence Harding
about_first_ladies_gracecoolidge Grace Coolidge
about_first_ladies_louhoover Lou Hoover
about_first_ladies_eleanorroosevelt Eleanor Roosevelt
about_first_ladies_besstruman Elizabeth Truman
about_first_ladies_mamieeisenhower Mamie Eisenhower
about_first_ladies_jacquelinekennedy Jacqueline Kennedy
about_first_ladies_ladybirdjohnson Claudia Johnson
about_first_ladies_patnixon Patricia Nixon
about_first_ladies_bettyford Elizabeth Ford
about_first_ladies_rosalynncarter Rosalynn Carter
about_first_ladies_nancyreagan Nancy Reagan
about_first_ladies_barbarabush Barbara Bush
about_first_ladies_hillaryclinton Hillary Clinton

21st Century
about_first_ladies_laurabush Laura Bush
administration_michelle_obama Michelle Obama



NANCY DAVIS REAGAN
b.1921

"My life really began when I married my husband," says Nancy Reagan, who in the 1950's happily gave up an acting career for a permanent role as the wife of Ronald Reagan and mother to their children. Her story actually begins in New York City, her birthplace. She was born on July 6, 1921.

When the future First Lady was six, her mother, Edith--a stage actress--married Dr. Loyal Davis, a neurosurgeon. Dr. Davis adopted Nancy, and she grew up in Chicago. It was a happy time: summer camp, tennis, swimming, dancing. 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.

She had met Ronald Reagan in 1951, when he was president of the Screen Actors Guild. The following year they were married in a simple ceremony in Los Angeles in the Little Brown Church in the Valley. Mrs. Reagan soon retired from making movies so she "could be the wife I wanted to be...A woman's real happiness and real fulfillment come from within the home with her husband and children," she says. President and Mrs. Reagan have a daughter, Patricia Ann, and a son, Ronald Prescott.

While her husband was Governor of California from 1967 to 1975, she worked with numerous charitable groups. She spent many hours visiting veterans, the elderly, and the emotionally and physically handicapped. These people continued to interest her as First Lady. She gave her support to the Foster Grandparent Program, the subject of her 1982 book, To Love A Child. Increasingly, she has concentrated on the fight against drug and alcohol abuse among young people. She visited prevention and rehabilitation centers, and in 1985 she held a conference at the White House for First Ladies of 17 countries to focus international attention on this problem.

Mrs. Reagan shared her lifelong interest in the arts with the nation by using the Executive Mansion as a showcase for talented young performers in the PBS television series "In Performance at the White House." In her first year in the mansion she directed a major renovation of the second- and third-floor quarters.

Now living in retirement in California, she continues to work on her campaign to teach children to "just say no" to drugs. In her book My Turn, published in 1989, she gives her own account of her life in the White House. Through the joys and sorrows of those days, including the assassination attempt on her husband, Nancy Reagan held fast to her belief in love, honesty, and selflessness. "The ideals have endured because they are right and are no less right today than yesterday."


Click about_presidents_ronaldreagan here to read the biography of President Ronald Reagan.

Learn more about Mrs. Reagan at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, National Archives and Records Administration.

MD5: 34a42955126263fa5d750cb8849e5564
Original URL: http://whitehouse.gov/about/first_ladies/nancyreagan/

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