Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, who began as actress and was a key ingredient in the rise of her husband Ronald Reagan from Hollywood to the White House, died today at her home in Los Angeles of congestive heart failure. She was 94.
Born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921 in New York City, she was a Hollywood actress in the 1940s and 1950s starring in films such as “The Next Voice You Hear…,” “Night Into Morning” and “Donovan’s Brain.” In 1952, she married Ronald Reagan who was then president of the Screen Actors Guild and became the First Lady of California when her husband was Governor from 1967 to 1975. Nancy Reagan became First Lady of the United States in January 1981, following her husband’s victory in the 1980 presidential election.
“Our former first lady redefined the role in her time here,” said President Barack Obama in a statement. “Later, in her long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s, and took on a new role, as advocate, on behalf of treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives.”
Mrs. Reagan is survived by her brother, Dr. Richard Davis; her two children with Ronald Reagan — Patti Davis and Ronald Prescott Reagan — and her stepson, Michael Reagan, as well numerous nieces and nephews.