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Nancy Davis Reagan was an American film actress who served as First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989. She was the wife of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. She was known for her elegance and style. She was notable for launching drug awareness campaigns to discourage drug use by young people.
See the fact file below for more information on the Nancy Reagan or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Nancy Reagan worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
- Nancy Davis Reagan was born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921 in Manhattan, New York.
- She was the only child of Kenneth Seymour Robbins, a farmer and car salesman, and Edith Prescott Luckett, an actress.
- Her mother gave her the nickname Nancy which she used throughout her life.
- Her parents separated when she was very young and divorced in 1928.
- After the separation, her mother continued to pursue an acting career, and left Nancy with her aunt, her mother’s sister, in Bethesda, Maryland. Her aunt raised her for six years of her childhood.
- In 1929, her mother married Loyal Davis, a neurosurgeon who lived in Chicago and eventually adopted Nancy as his own. Nancy’s last name was legally changed to Davis.
- Nancy had a good relationship with his stepfather and always referred to him as her father.
- She attended the Chicago Latin School for Girls and graduated in 1939.
At a young age, she took interest in theater arts as her mother’s friends in the theater would often visit their Chicago home.
- After her graduation, she enrolled as a drama major in Smith College in Massachusetts and graduated in 1943.
- With the help of her mother’s colleagues, she launched her acting career by working with a touring company and took on a role on Broadway before working in Hollywood and acting in movies.
- In 1949, she moved to California and signed a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
- Her notable movies include East Side, West Side (1949), Donovan’s Brain (1953), and Hellcats of the Navy (1957), in which Ronald Reagan was her co-star.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE
- Nancy dated many actors during her Hollywood career, and when she met Ronald Reagan in 1949, they started dating.
- Because of Ronald’s painful divorce from his first wife, he was not looking to jump into another marriage quickly so they went through a lengthy courtship of three years.
- They married on March 4, 1952.
- Nancy gave birth to their daughter, Patricia Ann, in October that year, then their son, Ronald Prescott, in 1958. Ronald already had two children with his first wife.
FIRST LADY OF CALIFORNIA
- Ronald entered politics in 1966 and became governor of California.
- As wife of the governor, Nancy garnered criticism for her expensive wardrobe and her glamorous circle of friends. She also attracted attention from the press for her youthful style and elegance.
- She also became involved with charity work and hosted state dinners with her husband for war veterans.
- In 1967, she was appointed by her husband to the California Arts Commission.
- The Los Angeles Times named her Woman of the Year the following year, naming her “A Model First Lady.”
FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES
- When Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980, Nancy took on the role of a stylish First Lady.
- She focused on major renovations of the White House.
- Her elegant fashion sense was also one of her trademarks. She was always stylish and often wore luxury dresses and gowns. Her extravagant choices garnered controversy for this but she always mentioned how it was a way to promote the American fashion industry.
- Nancy was shaken in the first year of her husband’s term when an assassination attempt was made on President Reagan in March 1981.
- The public had a hard time relating to her because of her glamorous image so she launched the anti-drug campaign called “Just Say No” in 1982. The drug awareness campaign became her major initiative as First Lady.
- In 1985, she expanded the campaign internationally by inviting the First Ladies of many countries to the White House for a conference.
- As First Lady, she drew speculation that she was influencing her husband on significant issues like arms control and the firing of White House staff members.
- In late 1987, she had to undergo a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
AFTER THE PRESIDENCY
- The Reagans retired to Bel Air, California after Ronald Reagan left the White House in January 1989.
- Nancy established the Nancy Reagan Foundation to continue her efforts on drug awareness.
- She limited her political appearances after the former president was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994. She dedicated her time to taking care of him.
- In 2000, she published I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan, a collection of letters she wrote to her husband.
- In 2002, Ronald and Nancy Reagan were awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.
- In the wake of her husband’s death in 2004, Nancy advocated for stem cell research, mainly for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Nancy Reagan Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Nancy Reagan across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Nancy Reagan worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Nancy Davis Reagan who was an American film actress who served as First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989. She was the wife of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. She was known for her elegance and style. She was notable for launching drug awareness campaigns to discourage drug use by young people.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Nancy Reagan Facts
- Knowing Nancy
- Film Titles
- Poster Match
- Correct Date
- A Model First Lady
- President Reagan
- Nancy Reagan Quotes
- Past First Ladies
- Gown Sketch
- Love, Nancy
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Use With Any Curriculum
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