Remembering Nancy Reagan on what would have been her 95th birthday

Nancy Reagan (AP Photo)

COLUMBUS (WCMH/AP) — Today would have been Nancy Reagan’s 95th birthday.

The former First Lady died on March 6, 2016 of congestive heart failure. She is buried beside President Reagan at her husband’s presidential library.

Anne Frances Robbins, nicknamed Nancy, was born on July 6, 1921, in New York City. Her parents separated soon after she was born and her mother, film and stage actress Edith Luckett, went on the road.

She was reared by her aunt until 1929 when her mother married Dr. Loyal Davis, a wealthy Chicago neurosurgeon who gives Nancy his name and a socialite’s home. She later majors in drama at Smith College and finds stage work with the help of her mother’s connections.

In 1949, MGM signes Nancy Davis to a movie contract. She is cast mostly as loyal housewives and mothers. She has a key role in “The Next Voice You Hear…” an unusual drama about a family that hears God’s voice on the radio. In “Donovan’s Brain” she plays the wife of a mad scientist possessed by a disembodied, glowing brain.

A year later, she met with Ronald Reagan, president of the Screen Actors Guild, seeking help when her name is wrongly included on a published list of suspected communist sympathizers. They discussed it over dinner, and she later wrote that she realized on that first date “he was everything that I wanted.”

The couple married on March 4, 1952. Her daughter Patti was born in October of that year and their son Ron followed in 1958. Reagan already has a daughter, Maureen, and an adopted son, Michael, from his marriage to actress Jane Wyman.

She was then thrust into the political life when her husband ran for California governor and won. She found it a surprisingly rough business.

“The movies were custard compared to politics,” Mrs. Reagan said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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