Nancy Reagan, the influential and stylish wife of the 40th president of the United States who unabashedly put Ronald Reagan at the center of her life but became a political figure in her own right, died on Sunday March 6 2016 at her home in Los Angeles. She was 94.
Born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921, in New York City, Nancy Davis was the daughter of Edith Luckett, an actress, and Kenneth Robbins, a car dealer who abandoned the family soon after her birth. Miss Luckett resumed her stage career when her daughter was 2 and sent the child to live with relatives in Bethesda, Md. In 1929, Mrs. Luckett married a Chicago neurosurgeon, Loyal Davis, who adopted Nancy and gave her the family name.
Almost overnight, Nancy Davis’s difficult childhood became stable and privileged. Throughout the rest of her life, she described Dr. Davis as her real father.
Nancy Davis graduated from the elite Girls’ Latin School in Chicago and then from Smith College in 1943. After doing summer stock in New England, she landed a part in the Broadway musical “Lute Song,” with Mary Martin and Yul Brynner. With the help of a friend, the actor Spencer Tracy, her mother then arranged a screen test given by the director George Cukor, of MGM.
Mr. Reagan and Nancy Davis were married on March 4, 1952, at a private ceremony at the Little Brown Church in the Valley, in Studio City. William Holden and his wife, Ardis, were the only witnesses.
After their marriage, the Reagans bought a house in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, where their daughter, Patricia Ann, was born — “a bit precipitously,” Mrs. Reagan wrote in her memoirs — on Oct. 21, 1952. She is known as Patti Davis professionally. The Reagans also had a son, Ronald Prescott, on May 28, 1958.
Besides her son and daughter, survivors include Mrs. Reagan’s stepson, Michael Reagan, and her brother, Dr. Richard Davis. A stepdaughter, Maureen Reagan, died in 2001.more » « less