Vale: Nancy Reagan

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Former US First Lady Nancy Reagan, who acted in film and television early in her public life, has died aged 94.

She died from congestive heart failure at her home in Los Angeles.

As Nancy Davis she appeared in films in the 1950s including The Dark Wave, The Next Voice You Hear, Night Into Morning, East Side, West Side, The Doctor and the Girl and Donovan’s Brain.

She also had TV credits in the 50s and 60s including Wagon Train, Schlitz Playhouse, Climax, Zane Grey Theater, The Tall Man, General Electric Theater, The Dick Powell Theatre and 87th Precinct.

She appeared with a young Ronald Reagan on the set of Hellcats of the Navy in 1957. When she was misidentified as a communist, the then president of the Screen Actors Guild helped clear her name.

Their relationship saw triumphs and travails through Reagan’s political career as California governor and on to his two terms in the White House, punctuated by the assassination attempt against him in 1981, the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Through it all, Mrs. Reagan was a fierce supporter of her husband’s interests, but could also be seen as overbearing. As California’s first lady, she earned the nickname “Queen Nancy.”

She also spearheaded the ‘Just Say No’ to campaign against drugs, speaking at schools and appearing on TV shows such as Dynasty and Diff’rent Strokes to promote the cause -but it was a line that some would use against her.

After Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she also became a vocal activist on behalf of stem-cell research.

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, said in a statement that Mrs. Reagan “redefined” the role of the first lady.

Charlton Heston once called their marriage “probably the greatest love affair in the history of the American presidency.”

Source: Time, Wall Street Journal

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