Nancy Reagan Remembered

Nancy Reagan is dead at 94. The former first lady was known as a fierce protector of her husband, Ronald Reagan. The deep and long-lasting love between the couple has played out in photos on social media since the announcement of her passing.

Reagan, who died of heart failure, became an anti-drug activist and launched the "Just Say No" campaign, created a foster grandparents program, worked on Vietnam Veterans causes, and supported a host of other causes, including stem cell research.

Former President George W. Bush offered this remembrance of Nancy Reagan, as shared by MSN.

"Laura and I are saddened by the loss of former first lady Nancy Reagan. Mrs. Reagan was fiercely loyal to her beloved husband, and that devotion was matched only by her devotion to our country. Her influence on the White House was complete and lasting. During her time as first lady and since, she raised awareness about drug abuse and breast cancer. When we moved into the White House, we benefited from her work to make those historic rooms beautiful. Laura and I are grateful for the life of Nancy Reagan, and we send our condolences to the entire Reagan family."

Nancy Reagan was born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921, in New York City, Biography notes. Her parents divorced soon after she was born. Her father was a car salesman, and her mother was an actress on Broadway. She was nicknamed Nancy and went to live with an aunt and uncle in Maryland when she was a toddler so her mother could travel the country to garner acting work.

Years later, her mother married a conservative neurosurgeon from Chicago, and Nancy once again began living with her mother. Six years after her mother married Loyal Davis, Nancy was able to convince her dad to give up custody rights so her stepfather could adopt her.

Reagan went to a private school for girls in Chicago and graduated from Smith College in 1943. She majored in both English and drama in college. Spencer Tracy, a friend of her mother, helped Nancy Davis get her start in acting. She reportedly dated Clark Gable briefly before she signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer. She was billed as the girl next door and cast in roles that depicted a clean-cut image.

Not long after, Ronald Reagan's divorce from Jane Wyman made national headlines, Nancy Davis requested a meeting with him to discuss the presence of her name on the infamous Communist blacklist. Her name was removed from the list, which would have prevented her from getting work, after it was revealed an actress with the same name was the intended target of list creators.

Nancy Davis and Ronald Reagan dated casually for three years. They married in a small private ceremony in the spring of 1852. Nancy became the stepmother to Reagan's three children - two biological children and one adopted son. The couple had two children together, Patricia Anne and her younger brother, Ronald Prescott. The couple appeared in just one film together, Hellcats of the Navy, in 1957.

Some claim that it was Nancy and her father Loyal Davis who greatly influenced Reagan's political shift from the Democrat to the Republican Party. He began publicly discussing the problems associated with big government in the early 1960s. He supported Barry Goldwater in 1964 and quickly became a rising star in the GOP.

Nancy stopped acting in 1962, and Reagan ran for the governor of California in 1966. She garnered a new nickname, "Queen Nancy," when she opted not to live in a "run down" governor's mansion but in a home leased by friends during his time at the helm of the state. At the time, she told the media that the decision to move into the 12-room leased home was to accommodate their children. Nancy is credited with the construction of a new governor's mansion that was finished in time for Reagan's successor, Jerry Brown, to move into after the election. Brown refused to live in the new governor's mansion.

Always protective of her husband, Nancy Reagan became even more so after the attempt on his life in 1981. She allegedly consulted with California astrologer Joan Quigley for help predicting any future dangers which could come his way.

[Photo by Mark J. Terril/AP]