Nancy Reagan, the former first lady of the United States, has died aged 94.
Born in New York City in 1921, she moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. However, after being ‘blacklisted’ by the film industry (for supposedly being a Communist sympathiser) calls for parts dried up. The assistance of future US President Ronald Reagan, then in position as President of the Screen Actors Guild, was sought. They ended up marrying in 1952.
After serving as California’s first lady, she then assisted her husband’s Presidential bid in 1976. The Republican nomination was lost then to Gerald Ford, but was secured in 1980.
Mrs Reagan served as the First Lady for the entirety of her husband’s two Presidential terms, and is perhaps most famous for the ‘Just Say No’ campaign to rid the US of drug abuse, as well as highlighting the dangers of the practice. This campaign resulted in a law being signed in 1986.
She addressed the UN General Assembly in 1988, highlighting the lack of global action in dealing with illegal drug trafficking and arguing for a firmer stance to be taken, and also served as her husband’s ‘protector’ after a failed assassination attempt on him in 1981, keeping track of all his schedules, appointments and engagements, despite being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987.
After leaving the White House, Mrs Reagan established the Nancy Reagan Foundation, which supported drug prevention programmes, and was active throughout the Los Angeles area in campaigning for greater drug-awareness education.
After her husband’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 1994, she devoted her time to becoming Ronald Reagan’s primary carer, and also established the Ronald & Nancy Reagan Research Institute into Alzheimers. After his death in 1994, Nancy Reagan continued to push for greater investment into research into the disease.
Described as the ‘perfect first lady’ by the Los Angeles Times, Nancy Reagan was as devoted to her husband as her political campaigns, and has left behind a great legacy.