Portrait of Nancy Reagan

Nancy Davis Reagan / By Aaron Shikler (1922–2015) / Essence of oil on paper, 1984–85 / Time cover, January 14, 1985 / Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery; Gift of Time magazine

In Memoriam: Nancy Reagan

Portrait on display March 7, 2016 - March 28, 2016
First floor

A graduate of Smith College, Nancy Davis appeared in eleven movies, including Night into Morning (1951) and Hellcats of the Navy (1957), the only film she made with Ronald Reagan.

Ronald and Nancy met in 1949 and married in 1952. The Reagans had two children, Patricia and Ronald, and two other children, Maureen and Michael, from Ronald’s first marriage. Nancy always defended “Ronnie” publicly, but privately she was a penetrating critic. Ronald’s diary entries testify to his utter devotion to her. They were an effective team, and Nancy, astute in judging people, was an active participant in the selection of his aides.

Like her predecessors, the first lady chose a cause to endorse and in 1982 launched her “Just Say No” campaign to fight youth drug abuse. In retirement, Nancy Reagan was an inestimable comfort and support for her husband during his battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Nancy Reagan portrait in hallway at National Portrait Gallery
  • Portrait of Nancy Reagan in red dress

    Nancy Reagan / By Aaron Shikler (1922–2015) / Essence of oil on paper, 1984–85 / Time cover, January 14, 1985 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine

  • Photograph of Nancy Reagan as a young actress

    Nancy Reagan / By Philippe Halsman / Gelatin silver print, 1945 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of George R. Rinhart / © Philippe Halsman Archive

  • Ronald and Nancy Reagan with Jack Linkletter

    Ronald and Nancy Reagan with Jack Linkletter / By Sid Avery / Gelatin silver print, 1957 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Ron and Donna Avery

  • Nancy Reagan laying flowers at a soldier's grave

    Nancy Reagan / By Diana Walker / Photograph, 1982 (printed 2011, digital inkjet print) / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Diana Walker

  • Nancy Reagan in crown of Statue of Liberty

    Nancy Davis Reagan / By Diana Walker / Photograph, 1986 (printed 2011, digital inkjet print) National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Diana Walker