|Full Name||Nancy Davis Reagan|
|Birthday||July 6, 1921|
|Death Date||March 6, 2016|
Nancy Davis Reagan was an actress and the Second Lady of the US (1981-89), born in NYC and separated from her parents at a young age. She pursued an acting career, appearing in 11 films between 1949 and 1956, including her most notable role in Donovan‘s Brain (1953). It was through acting she met her husband Ronald Reagan. As First Lady from 1981-1989, she was devoted to President Reagan and became known for her elegance and commitment to social causes like volunteering and drug education programs like "Just Say No." After leaving the White House, she passionately advocated for embryonic stem cell research in hopes of finding a cure for Alzheimer‘s disease, which her husband suffered from.
Early Life and Acting Career
Nancy Davis was born in New York City on July 6, 1921. Her parents, Edith Luckett and Kenneth Seymour Robbins, separated shortly after her birth. As a child, she lived in Maryland with her aunt and uncle while her mother pursued acting. After high school, Nancy followed in her mother‘s footsteps and signed a contract with MGM Studios in 1949. Over the next several years she appeared in 11 films, including The Doctor and the Girl (1949), East Side, West Side (1949), and Night into Morning (1951). Her most notable role was as the leading lady in 1953‘s Donovan‘s Brain, a sci-fi film.
It was through her work in the entertainment industry that Nancy met her future husband Ronald Reagan, who was president of the Screen Actors Guild at the time. She initially contacted him to resolve a naming issue – another actress named Nancy Davis was incorrectly listed on a blacklist of supposed communist sympathizers. After helping resolve the mix-up, Ronald asked Nancy out. They married in 1952 and had two children together, Patricia and Ronald Jr.
Becoming First Lady
When Ronald Reagan was elected 40th president of the United States in 1980, Nancy became first lady at the age of 59. She brought back a sense of formality and elegance that had been missing from the White House in previous administrations. She redecorated several rooms, including the China Room, and upgraded the state china.
As first lady, Nancy focused much of her attention on serving disadvantaged groups, especially youth. She promoted volunteerism by traveling around the country to visit schools, rehabilitation centers, and programs for young people. Her main cause was drug prevention education. She launched the "Just Say No" campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of drug abuse.
Advocating for Medical Research
In 1994, President Reagan wrote a handwritten letter to the American people revealing he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer‘s disease. After leaving the White House, Nancy became her husband‘s primary caregiver as his health declined over the next decade. She also emerged as a leading advocate for stem cell research, hoping it could lead to an Alzheimer‘s cure.
Nancy frequently testified before Congress and wrote letters to politicians urging them to support embryonic stem cell research by overturning bans on federal funding. She also argued it was "morally and ethically acceptable" unlike other forms of abortion. Though unsuccessful in overturning restrictions during her lifetime, Nancy brought valuable attention to the issue.
Why We Love Nancy Reagan
As an American first lady, Nancy Reagan was admirable for many reasons:
- Her unwavering devotion and care for her husband during his decade-long Alzheimer‘s battle
- Bringing increased formality and elegance back to the style of the White House
- Using her role to advocate for social causes like "Just Say No" and volunteerism
- Becoming a passionate stem cell research advocate later in life to help others
- Her glamour, classiness, and warmth as a former Hollywood actress
5 Interesting Facts about Nancy Reagan
- Her nickname was "Mommy" by the Secret Service
- She was the first First Lady to record a weekly radio address
- Her favorite phrase to say was "Honey, I forgot to duck"
- She had a life-long obsession with the color red
- She and President Reagan were married longer than any other first couple
Frequently Asked Questions
When is Nancy Reagan‘s birthday?
Nancy Reagan was born on July 6, 1921 in New York City. She would have turned 100 years old in 2021.
Where did Nancy Reagan grow up?
Though born in NYC, Nancy Reagan grew up in Bethesda, Maryland where she lived with her aunt and uncle after her parents‘ divorce.
How did Nancy Reagan help her husband after the White House?
Nancy tirelessly cared for President Reagan for 10 years as he declined from Alzheimer‘s disease until his death in 2004. She also became an advocate for embryonic stem cell research.
What was Nancy Reagan‘s most famous project as First Lady?
Nancy Reagan is likely most remembered for launching the "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign in the 1980s to educate young people.