Sophie Leigh Robbins Biography & Facts
Nancy Davis Reagan (; born Anne Frances Robbins; July 6, 1921 – March 6, 2016) was an American film actress and First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989. She was the second wife of president Ronald Reagan.
Reagan was born in New York City. After her parents separated, she lived in Maryland with an aunt and uncle for six years. When her mother remarried in 1929, she moved to Chicago and later was adopted by her mother's second husband. As Nancy Davis, she was a Hollywood actress in the 1940s and 1950s, starring in films such as The Next Voice You Hear..., Night into Morning, and Donovan's Brain. In 1952, she married Ronald Reagan, who was then president of the Screen Actors Guild. He had two children from his previous marriage to Jane Wyman and he and Nancy had two children together. Nancy Reagan was the first lady of California when her husband was governor from 1967 to 1975, and she began to work with the Foster Grandparents Program.
Reagan became First Lady of the United States in January 1981, following her husband's victory in the 1980 presidential election. Early in his first term, she was criticized largely due to her decision to replace the White House china, which had been paid for by private donations, and for accepting free clothing from fashion designers. She championed recreational drug prevention causes when she founded the "Just Say No" drug awareness campaign, which was considered her major initiative as First Lady. More discussion of her role ensued following a 1988 revelation that she had consulted an astrologer to assist in planning the president's schedule after the attempted assassination of her husband in 1981. She generally had a strong influence on her husband and played a role in a few of his personnel and diplomatic decisions.
After Ronald Reagan's term as president ended, the couple returned to their home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California. Nancy devoted most of her time to caring for her husband, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1994, until his death at the age of 93 on June 5, 2004. Reagan remained active within the Reagan Library and in politics, particularly in support of embryonic stem cell research, until her death from congestive heart failure at age 94 on March 6, 2016.
Early life and education
Anne Frances Robbins was born on July 6, 1921, at Sloane Hospital for Women in Uptown Manhattan. Davis gave her birth date as July 6, 1923, a date cited through most of her life. She was of English descent. She was the only child of Kenneth Seymour Robbins (1892–1972), a farmer turned car salesman who had been born into a once-prosperous family, and his actress wife, Edith Prescott Luckett (1888–1987). Her godmother was silent-film-star Alla Nazimova. From birth, she was commonly called Nancy.Robbins lived her first two years in Flushing, Queens, a borough of New York City, in a two-story house on Roosevelt Avenue between 149th and 150th Streets. Her parents separated soon after her birth and were divorced in 1928. After their separation, her mother traveled the country to pursue acting jobs and Robbins was raised in Bethesda, Maryland, for six years by her aunt, Virginia Luckett, and uncle, Audley Gailbraith, where she attended Sidwell Friends School for kindergarten through second grade. Nancy later described longing for her mother during those years: "My favorite times were when Mother had a job in New York, and Aunt Virgie would take me by train to stay with her."In 1929, her mother married Loyal Edward Davis (1896–1982), a prominent conservative neurosurgeon who moved the family to Chicago. Nancy and her stepfather got along very well; she later wrote that he was "a man of great integrity who exemplified old-fashioned values". He formally adopted her in 1938, and she would always refer to him as her father. At the time of the adoption, her name was legally changed to Nancy Davis. She attended the Girls' Latin School of Chicago (describing herself as an average student), from 1929, until she graduated in 1939, and later attended Smith College in Massachusetts, where she majored in English and drama, graduating in 1943.
In 1940, a young Davis had appeared as a National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis volunteer in a memorable short subject film shown in movie theaters to raise donations for the crusade against polio. The Crippler featured a sinister figure spreading over playgrounds and farms, laughing over its victims, until finally dispelled by the volunteer. It was very effective in raising contributions.Following her graduation from college, Davis held jobs in Chicago as a sales clerk in Marshall Field's department store and as a nurse's aide. With the help of her mother's colleagues in theatre, including ZaSu Pitts, Walter Huston, and Spencer Tracy, she pursued a professional career as an actress. She first gained a part in Pitts' 1945 road tour of Ramshackle Inn, moving to New York City. She landed the role of Si-Tchun, a lady-in-waiting, in the 1946 Broadway musical about the Orient, Lute Song, starring Mary Martin and a pre-fame Yul Brynner. The show's producer told her, "You look like you could be Chinese."After passing a screen test, she moved to California and signed a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) in 1949; she later remarked, "Joining Metro was like walking into a dream world." Her combination of attractive appearance—centered on her large eyes—and somewhat distant and understated manner made her hard at first for MGM to cast and publicize. Davis appeared in eleven feature films, usually typecast as a "loyal housewife", "responsible young mother", or "the steady woman". Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds, Leslie Caron, and Janet Leigh were among the actresses with whom she competed for roles at MGM.
Davis' film career began with small supporting roles in two films that were released in 1949, The Doctor and the Girl with Glenn Ford and East Side, West Side starring Barbara Stanwyck. She played a child psychiatrist in the film noir Shadow on the Wall (1950) with Ann Sothern and Zachary Scott; her performance was called "beautiful and convincing" by New York Times critic A. H. Weiler. She co-starred in 1950's The Next Voice You Hear..., playing a pregnant housewife who hears the voice of God from her radio. Influential reviewer Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote that "Nancy Davis [is] delightful as [a] gentle, plain, and understanding wife." In 1951, Davis appeared in Night into Morning, her favorite screen role, a study of bereavement starring Ray Milland. Crowther said that Davis "does nicely as the fiancée who is widowed herself and knows the loneliness of grief", while another noted critic, The Washington Post's Richard L. Coe, said Davis "is splendid as the understanding widow". MGM released Davis from her contract in 1952; she sought a broader range of parts, but also married Reagan, keeping her professional name as Davis, and had .... Discover the Sophie Leigh Robbins popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Sophie Leigh Robbins books.