- 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
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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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She wanted a home, family and children, and grew tired of the couple's itinerant lifestyle. But before she could discuss a divorce, Warren fell ill with acute diabetes. While he recovered over the next two years, Betty worked to support them both. This experience left her with a strong impression of the inequalities in compensation between genders for doing the same job. After Warren recovered, the couple ended their marriage.
In August 1947, Betty Warren met 34-year-old attorney Gerald Ford, a U.S. Navy lieutenant. Ford had returned from duty to resume his law practice, and to run for U.S. Congress. The couple dated for a year before Ford proposed in February of 1948, and the couple married two weeks before the November election. He picked this date because he was concerned the voters in his conservative district might have second thoughts about him marrying a divorced ex-dancer. During the wedding rehearsal dinner, Gerald had to leave early in order to make a campaign speech.The day after their wedding, the Fords attended a political rally, followed by a University of Michigan football game, and a speech by New York governor Thomas Dewey. Gerald won the election three weeks later, ushering Betty into the world of politics.
In December 1948, the Fords moved to a Virginia suburb outside of Washington, D.C. Betty quickly immersed herself in the political process. She got to know the names and positions of powerful legislative figures, served as her husband's unofficial adviser, and networked with other Congressmen's spouses. As Ford built his Congressional career, winning re-election 13 times and rising to the position of House Minority Leader, Betty assumed the traditional responsibilities of a father as well as a mother to their four children. She also became involved with charity organizations and volunteer work.
On December 6, 1973, Ford was appointed Vice President under Richard Nixon, after Vice President Spiro Angew resigned. Then, on August 9, 1974, in an unprecedented move, Richard Nixon resigned from office under pressure from the Watergate scandal. Under United States law, Gerald Ford became the 38th President of the United States. Betty Ford was officially the first lady.
In short order, it became apparent that the new first lady was going to make an impact.
Betty became known for dancing to disco music at informal White House events, and was especially good at the dance move, "The Bump." She chatted on her CB radio under the call name "First Mama." But Betty Ford could also be very serious on subjects such as equal rights for women, abortion and divorce. At times, her outspokenness raised disapproval from the more conservative elements of the Republican Party. After a 60 Minutes appearance where she openly discussed how she would counsel her children if they were involved in pre-marital sex and recreational drugs, some conservatives called her "No Lady" and demanded her resignation. But the nation as a whole found her openness appealing, and her approval rating reached 75 percent.
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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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