Remembering Nancy Reagan: Actress, Style Icon & Social Campaigner

Nancy Reagan

Rest in peace, Nancy Reagan. The former First Lady of the United States has passed away at the ripe age of 94. In addition to being an influential First Lady to President Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan was a woman of her own. An actress and a style icon, she also campaigned against drugs and supported embryonic stem-cell research in America.

The former First Lady was known for her efforts in her husband’s war against drugs. The “Just Say No” campaign was her most popular contribution, reveals Think Progress. “Our job is never easy because drug criminals are ingenious,” she had declared in her address, way back in 1986, states Think Progress. “They work everyday to plot a new and better way to steal our children’s lives, just as they’ve done by developing this new drug, crack. For every door that we close, they open a new door to death,” she added.

In addition to her war on drugs, Reagan championed the cause of Alzheimer’s patients, explains Chicago Tribune. This cause was also close to her heart. Reagan too had borne the brunt of this condition when she became a full time caretaker to the former president who fought with Alzheimer’s for almost a decade. Nancy Reagan raised billions of dollars to fund for research in this area. Chicago Tribune reveals that even President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have spoken of her work following Reagan’s journey with Alzheimer’s disease.

“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,” the Obamas said in an official statement.

"Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House. She was right, of course. But we had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice. Our former First Lady redefined the role in her time here. 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. We offer our sincere condolences to their children, Patti, Ron, and Michael, and to their grandchildren. And we remain grateful for Nancy Reagan's life, thankful for her guidance, and prayerful that she and her beloved husband are together again." —President Obama and First Lady @MichelleObama

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In addition to Alzheimer’s, Reagan also worked as a supporter for embryonic stem cell research. According to Stat News, Nancy Reagan was responsible for convincing then President George W. Bush to reconsider his decision to stop stem-cell research funding. President Bush was previously against harvesting cells from discarded human embryos.

She also worked towards raising awareness about breast cancer by encouraging annual check ups and mammograms. Stat News explains that Reagan’s efforts focused on removing the ‘stigma’ that many women associated with breast cancer back then. “Hers was an important voice in the effort to advance medical science in the hope of improving people’s health,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

While this “Dragon Lady” tightly held the ropes of running the White House, she also became a style icon of sorts for the youth. According to People.com, Reagan preferred glamourous silk gowns in pastel colours in the 50s and 60s. After her ascent to the White House, she mostly wore sharp trousers and shift dresses, marking her transition from showbiz to politics. According to renowned designer Oscar De la Renta, Nancy Reagan never made a faux pas in her life.

She was an actress before she married President Reagan and became the First Lady. She made her Broadway debut in “Lute Song” opposite Yul Brynner and Mary Martin. This was followed by acting roles in films like “East Side, West Side,” “The Next Voice You Hear,” “Night Into Morning” and “Crash Landing.”

According to Movie Web, she met Ronald Reagan, who was then president of Screen Actors Guild, when she was mistakenly named in a Communist publication. The two met, fell in love and married in 1952. They acted together in “Hellcats of the Navy.”

Nancy Reagan lived a full life and died at the age of 94. She died at her home in California on account of congestive heart failure. NBC reports that will be buried at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, next to her husband, Ronald Wilson Reagan.

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