|As First Lady, Nancy Reagan was known for her elegance and style. Prior to marrying Ronald Reagan, Nancy Davis was a successful actress, appearing in eleven motion pictures. Nevertheless, she often said that her life really began when "I married the man I loved." Nancy Reagan became her husband's staunchest supporter as he rose from president of the Screen Actors Guild to President of the United States.
She was born Anne Frances Robbins in New York City. Her divorced mother was an actress who later married prominent neurosurgeon, Dr. Loyal Davis. Dr. Davis moved the family to Chicago and soon adopted young Nancy. She attended Smith College as a theatre major and went to New York following graduation. Eventually, well-connected friends of her mother helped Nancy launch her career. She soon won an MGM contract and was bound for Hollywood.
Nancy chose to give up her movie career when she married Ronald Reagan. She soon had children to care for, and was also a part-time mother to Reagan's two children from his first marriage to actress Jane Wyman. When Ronald Reagan became Governor of California, his wife easily assumed the duties of official hostess. She devoted herself to her husband's career and was one of his most forceful advisors. She was justifiably proud when Ronald Reagan's political ambitions culminated in a successful run for the White House.
As First Lady, Mrs. Reagan brought an almost royal feel to the White House. She was criticized for her lavish redecorating of the family quarters and for accepting gifts of designer clothing. But others felt that the good done by her involvement with the "Just Say No" drug prevention campaign, more than offset the negative criticisms. As President, Ronald Reagan served for two complete terms-- the first president to do so since Dwight Eisenhower. When the Reagans left the White House in 1988, they had the satisfaction of seeing their Vice-President, George Bush assume the Presidency.
Unfortunately, Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease after retiring from the White House. Nancy stayed by his bedside until his death. Nancy Reagan is now active in the struggle for better understanding of this affliction.