What Was It like to Change from an Actress to the First Lady of the United States of America?
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24 January 2005
What was it like to change from an actress to the First Lady of the United States of America?
In her early career, Nancy Davis worked as an actress in stage, film, and television productions. Her stage performances ranged from summer stock to road tours to Broadway and, in 1949, she was signed to a seven-year contract with MGM. During this time, she met Ronald Reagan and they were married on March 4, 1952. She made eleven films in all, including three after her marriage. Her last film, at Columbia in 1956, was “Hellcats of the Navy,” in which she and her husband appeared together.
Shortly after her husband became Governor of California in 1967, Mrs. Reagan began visiting wounded Vietnam veterans and became active in projects concerning POWs and servicemen missing in action. During the war, she wrote a syndicated column, donating her salary to the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia.
While First Lady of California, Mrs. Reagan made regular visits to hospitals and homes for the elderly, as well as schools for physically and emotionally handicapped children. During one of these hospital visits in 1967, she observed participants in the Foster Grandparent Program, a program which brings together senior citizens and handicapped children, and she soon became its champion. Later, as First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Reagan was very supportive for her husband and continued to help expand the program on a national level and promote private funding in local communities. With Jane Wilkie, she occupied herselft by being co-author of a book, To Love a Child, and a song by the same title was written and dedicated to her by Hal David and Joe Raposo.
Mrs. Reagans special project is fighting drug and alcohol abuse among youth. To spotlight the problem, she has traveled nearly 250,000 miles throughout the United States and several countries in conjunction with her campaign to fight substance abuse. She has appeared on television talk shows, taped public service announcements, written guest articles, and visited prevention programs and rehabilitation centers across the country to talk with young