- NAME: Betty Ford
- OCCUPATION: U.S. First Lady
- BIRTH DATE: April 08, 1918
- DEATH DATE: July 08, 2011
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Chicago, Illinois
- PLACE OF DEATH: Rancho Mirage, California
- Maiden Name: Elizabeth Anne Bloomer
- AKA: Betty Ford
- Full Name: Elizabeth Anne Ford
- AKA: Elizabeth Ford
- AKA: Elizabeth Bloomer
- AKA: Betty Bloomer
- AKA: Betty Warren
Best Known For
Betty Ford became the First Lady when President Nixon resigned and made her Vice President husband, Gerald Ford, the acting President.
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Born on April 8, 1918, in Chicago, Illinois, Betty Ford became first lady when President Richard Nixon resigned, making her vice president husband, Gerald Ford, acting president. She became well known for her openness as first lady—a trend that continued after the Fords left the White House, when she created the Betty Ford Center for addiction.
It's always been my feeling that God lends you your children until they're about eighteen years old. If you haven't made your points with them by then, it's too late.
Born Elizabeth Anne Bloomer in Chicago, Illinois, on April 8, 1918, Betty Ford was the third child and only daughter of William Bloomer Sr. and Hortense Neahr. Her father worked for the Royal Rubber Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan; her mother was related to a wealthy Grand Rapids furniture manufacturing family.
Betty's mother thought social graces were important, so in 1926 eight-year-old Betty enrolled at Calla Travis Dance Studio in Grand Rapids, where she studied ballet, tap and modern movement. Dance became a passion, and soon Betty decided to pursue it as a career. At 14, she taught younger children dances such as the foxtrot, waltz and "The Big Apple." While still in high school, she opened her own dance school teaching children and adults.
When Betty was 16, her father was asphyxiated by carbon monoxide poisoning while working on the family car in a closed garage. It was never confirmed whether his death was accidental or a suicide. With the main bread-winner gone, Betty's mother supported the family by working as a real-estate agent. Her strength and independence in the face of tragedy greatly influenced Betty, shaping her views on equal pay and equality for women.
After graduating from high school, Bettyspent two summers at the Bennington School of Dance in Vermont studying under legendary choreographer and dancer Martha Graham. To pay for her lessons, she worked during the year as a model at a Grand Rapids department store. In 1940, Betty was accepted to study and work with Martha Graham's auxiliary troupe in New York City. She made numerous appearances as a dancer, including a performance at Carnegie Hall.
Hortense Bloomer never completely accepted her daughter's career choice and urged Betty to come home. Finally, after realizing that she would probably not be a premier dancer, Betty returned to Grand Rapids in 1941 to work full-time at Herpolscheimer's department store. After a series of promotions, she became a fashion coordinator for the store. She continued her strong interest in dance, teaching at Travis Dance Studio in Grand Rapids and organizing her own dance troupe. She also offered weekly dance classes to African-American children, and taught ballroom dancing to children with sight and hearing disabilities.
In 1942, Betty Bloomer met and married William C. Warren, a furniture salesman whom she had known since she was 12. Warren had a series of jobs in different cities, often as a traveling salesman, and Betty sometimes worked as a department store saleswoman and model in cities where they lived. After three years, however, Betty realized the marriage wasn't going to work.
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When the 19th Amendment was ratified, women were finally given the right to vote, and over the years many courageous women have stepped onto the national political stage as well. In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress and almost a century later Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina woman to serve on the Supreme Court. And within the last two decades, the esteemable Hillary Clinton has served as First Lady, a New York senator and Secretary of State. These women, and many more, are setting the stage for the future of female leaders in Washington.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women."
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