Former First Lady Nancy Reagan died Sunday in her home at the age of 94. The cause of death is reported to be congestive heart failure. The love story of Nancy and Ronald Reagan was more than just another Hollywood romance. Their love for each other spanned the decades of their long marriage of 52 years. Nancy and Ron were practically inseparable. She was a powerful force in her husband′s life and political career. I like to think that they are now reunited for all eternity, as they were true soul mates.
Born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921, in New York City, she was the daughter of actress Edith Prescott Luckett. Her parents called her Nancy as a baby, and the name stuck. Her father, Kenneth Robbins, a car salesman, left her at the age of two following a divorce. Nancy and her mother lived for a time in Maryland with relatives, then later moved to Chicago, where her mother remarried Loyal Edward Davis when Nancy was 8 years old. He adopted Nancy in 1935 and was hence known as Nancy Davis. Loyal Davis was a neurosurgeon who was active in conservative politics.
In 1949, Nancy Davis earned a contract as a film actress with MGM. She made a number of films, but none of note. In 1951, during the ′Red Scare′ in Hollywood, Nancy Davis was under suspicion of being a Communist. A friend arranged for help from Ronald Reagan, who was the President of the Screen Actors Guild at the time. They had dinner to discuss her situation and fell in love. Nancy and Ronald Reagan married in March of 1952. They made one film together, ″Hellcats of the Navy″, in 1957, and appeared together later in TV episodes of ″Wagon Train″ and ″The Tall Man″.
The Hollywood couple had two children together, Patti Davis, born in October, 1952, and Ronald Prescott Reagan, born in May of 1958. Nancy also acted as a stepmother to the two children, Maureen and Michael, which Ronald had with his first wife, Jane Wyman, whom he divorced in 1948. As the couple′s film careers waned, Nancy encouraged Ronald to become more active in politics, which had always interested him. After doing many speaking tours and working for the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign in 1964, Ronald Reagan, with the support of Nancy, began to eye the Governorship of the State of California.
From 1967 through 1975, Nancy served as the First Lady of California while ′Ronnie′ was governor. There was some controversy from the start when Nancy moved the family out of the Governor′s Mansion in Sacramento, calling the building a ″fire trap″. But, her good works in promoting the arts won Nancy the honor of ″Woman of the Year″ in 1967 by the Los Angeles Times newspaper. She also became involved in veterans affairs, the handicapped and with foster grandparents programs.
There is no doubt that Nancy had substantial influence in the decision by Ronald Reagan to run for president in 1976. At first, she was reluctant, but eventually came around and was very active in the campaign. When Reagan ran again in 1980, Nancy played an even larger role. After losing the Iowa Caucus, Nancy was influential in the resignation of her husband′s campaign manager, John Sears. Later, when First Lady, Nancy played a role in the firing of White House Chief of Staff, Donald Regan.
In the White House, Nancy Reagan did much to restore the building and reshape the role of First Lady. She became very active in many causes, including breast cancer and the War on Drugs with the ″Just Say No″ campaign. Nancy was very protective of her husband, especially after an assassination attempt. She had many critics, some attacking her on her lavish fashion choices and spending sprees. But the public loved her as she brought that old era of Hollywood glamor to Washington DC.
Not long after leaving the White House, the Reagan′s had terrible news. In 1994, it was made public that Ronald Reagan was suffering from Alzheimer′s Disease. Nancy Reagan cared for her husband during his last days, and became involved in the fight against Alzheimer and in encouraging stem cell research. When Ronald Reagan died in 2004, the images of Nancy Reagan kissing her husband′s flag-draped coffin demonstrated the deep love between them. In a recent interview, she confessed that time had not heeled the longing in her heart. Now, with the death of Nancy Reagan, she is reunited with her Ronnie for all eternity.