First Lady Betty Ford

Elizabeth Ann ‘Betty’ Ford (born Elizabeth Anne Bloomer) was married to Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. She functioned as First Lady in the period 1974-1977. She was born in 1918, on April 8th in Chicago, Illinois.

Betty became America’s First Lady at the moment Richard Nixon was forced to resign as U.S. President and her vice-president husband Gerald became the acting President. Betty Ford had continual high approval ratings though quite a few conservative Republicans objected against her liberal ideas on quite a few social issues.

Betty Ford was famed for raising awareness for breast cancer after her mastectomy in 1974, and also for being a passionate activist for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). She was pro-choice, and became an avid leader for the Women’s Movement, and was famous for being the most candid First Lady in history while commenting on just about every hot issue such as equal pay, feminism, abortion, drugs, equal rights, and gun control. She additionally was pretty open when she revealed her long-running alcohol problem in 1970, to establish the Betty Ford Addiction Center after she and Gerald had left the White House.

Betty’s mother had taught her the importance of social graces and at age eight, Betty started to study ballet, modern movement, and tap, and as dancing became her passion, Betty wanted to pursue dancing as a career. The young Betty, at age 14, already taught younger children the foxtrot and the waltz and while still a  high school student, she established her private dance school where she was teaching both adults and children.

After she graduated from high school, she studied under the guidance of legendary dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, and with Martha’s group, she made several appearances including a one at Carnegie Hall. Betty realized, though, that she wasn’t gifted enough to become a top-of-the-line dancer, so she went back to Grand Rapids to eventually work as a fashion coordinator at a department store while continuing to keep a passion for dancing.

In 1942, Betty married a furniture salesman, William C. Warren, who she had known for a long time, but after three years, she had become aware that the marriage wasn’t working, and after Warren had recovered from a severe illness, they ended the marriage. In 1947, Betty met Gerald Ford, an attorney, and U.S. Navy lieutenant, who wanted to go back to his law practice and run for Congress.

After a year, the couple married, just two weeks prior to the elections in November. At the end of 1973, Ford became Richard Nixon’s Vice President after Spiro Agnew resigned, and when in 1974,  Richard Nixon was forced to resign from office because of the Watergate scandal, Ford was appointed the 38th President of the United States, and Betty Ford became the American First Lady.

In 1991, Betty was honored by George W. Bush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, earned the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999, and also was awarded the Woodrow Wilson Award for her public service. Gerald and Betty Ford had four children, and after her husband died in 2006 (at the age of 93), Betty wasn’t seen much in public anymore and died of natural causes on July 8, 2011.