Former first lady Nancy Reagan kisses the casket of her husband former President Ronald Reagan prior to the removal of his remains from the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, June 11, 2004.
She is being remembered today as the creator of the "Just Say No" to drugs advertising campaign, but most importantly as a powerful ally for her husband, not shy about speaking her mind on political matters affecting Ronald Reagan throughout his career, including as governor of California.
Ronald Reagan was elected to the White House in 1980 with a landslide win over incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter.
When her husband became president of the United States, First Lady Reagan continued her interest in these groups continued, and arguably became best known for her "Just Say No" program fighting against drug abuse among youth.
Nancy Reagan's first big screen role was in director Curtis Bernhardt's drama about a wealthy doctor (Glenn Ford) who defies his family's wishes by opening a practice in a poorer neighborhood.
After a run of playing mostly wives and girlfriends, Reagan got a particularly meaty and serious role in this Pat Jackson-directed psychological crime thriller about a 6-year-old girl (Gigi Perreau) who loses her memory after witnessing the murder of her stepmother. "She is once again with the man she loved", he wrote.
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The death of Ronald Reagan in 2004 ended what Charlton Heston called "the greatest love affair in the history of the American presidency".
In a 1988 interview, Nancy said she was forced to exert her influence because her husband was poorly served by his aides, especially during the Iran-contra scandal that tarnished his reputation. She was cast mostly as a loyal housewife and mother.
Finally, in 1994, the couple disclosed that Ronald Reagan had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
"We mourn the loss of First Lady Nancy Reagan, not only for her grace and accomplishments, but also because we sadly lose a living connection to all the things that she and President Reagan represented". "She went out of her way to warmly welcome Jeanette and me". She took her case to the public, to politicians and to the media, insisting that narcotics abstinence was possible. She was protective of the image he conveyed as president, as she had been when he was governor and a presidential candidate in 1976. "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."- President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
She remained in the public eye after the president's death.
She has grown to be a beloved person over the past several decades after caring for her husband, Ronald Reagan, as he suffered from Alzheimer's disease and then crusading on behalf of research to cure the devastating disease. "Whenever she's out of sight, I'm a worrier about her".