Nancy Davis

Active - 1949 - 1988  |   Born - Jul 6, 1921 in New York, NY  |   Died - Mar 6, 2016 in Bel Air, CA  |   Genres - Drama, Romance

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It isn't likely that Nancy Davis will be remembered by posterity as a film actress, though this was the career she pursued with moderate success from 1949 to 1958. Educated at Smith College, Davis decided to emulate her mother, a former actress, by trying her luck in the theater. Her first professional engagement was as the kidnapped ingénue who wandered through the action in a daze while clad in a flimsy nightgown in ZaSu Pitts' touring stage vehicle Ramshackle Inn. Signed to an MGM contract in 1949, she essayed supporting roles in such films as East Side West Side (1949) and Shadow on the Wall (1951) before graduating to leads. Perhaps her best screen assignment was The Next Voice You Hear (1951) in which she played a pregnant housewife whose life is profoundly altered when the voice of God is heard over the radio. Distressed by the Red Scare sweeping through Hollywood in the early '50s, Davis went directly to the president of the Screen Actors Guild with proof that she'd never participated in anything remotely Communistic. The SAG president at the time was a journeyman actor named Ronald Reagan with whom Davis fell in love; they were married in 1952, four years after Reagan's divorce from actress Jane Wyman. Devoting herself to her husband and two children, Davis curtailed her acting career; among her final assignments were a handful of TV appearances on GE Theater, hosted by Reagan, and the 1957 war drama Hellcats of the Navy, in which she co-starred with her husband. She stood steadfastly by Reagan's side during his nine-year tenure as Governor of California and shared his triumph when he was elected President of the United States in 1980. In addition to her duties as First Lady, Mrs. Reagan spearheaded the anti-drug "Just Say No" program, which though widely ridiculed proved much more effective than most other projects of its kind. Enduring the slings and arrows of many critics (including, briefly, her own daughter Patti), Nancy Davis Reagan has proven herself a tower of strength and a true survivor; she withdrew from public life to provide full-time care for her husband, who was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. After the former president died in 2004, she remained active in politics until her own death, in 2016, at age 94.

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