National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Born Queens, New York
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.