Betty Ford was born in 1918 in Chicago and grew up in Grand
Rapids, Michigan attending Central High School. At the age
of 14, Ford started modeling and teaching children steps to
popular dances such as the foxtrot and the waltz. She volunteered
and entertained children with disabilities in her spare time.
Betty Ford continued her study of dance at the Bennington
School of Dance in Vermont. Her passion for dance would take
her to Manhattan where she worked as a model to finance her
studies. She performed with a dance company at Carnegie Hall.
At the urging of her mother, Ford returned to Grand Rapids
and worked in a department store while also forming her own
local dance troupe teaching women to dance.
Gerald Ford was Betty Ford's second husband. They married
in 1948, and had four children. Gerald Ford was appointed
Vice President following the resignation of Spiro Agnew in
1973. He became president when Richard Nixon resigned the
position due to the Watergate Scandal.
Betty Ford proved to be a very atypical First Lady. She wore
a mood ring and spoke openly about very controversial issues
such as premarital sex, experimentation with drugs and alcohol,
the Equal Rights Amendment and feminism, and gun control.
She openly supported a woman's right to choose, and raised
awareness about breast cancer when she had a mastectomy in
The event was highly publicized and Ford is credited with
using the publicity to send the message to women that breast
cancer can happen to anyone. Her openness and willingness
to talk about something that, at the time, women didn't want
to talk about, helped heighten visibility for fighting the
disease versus enduring it.
In 1976, Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford in the presidential
election. Because Gerald had lost his voice during campaigning,
Betty Ford delivered the famous concession speech on behalf
of her husband.
In 1978, Ford's family confronted her about her alcohol and
prescription pain medication addiction. Ford entered the Long
Beach Naval Hospital to face her addiction issues. After her
recovery and release, she established the Betty Ford Center
in Rancho Mirage, California. The Betty Ford Center focuses
on treating individuals who want to face and overcome their
chemical dependency issues.
Ford published two books on the subject
of addiction, Betty, A Glad Awakening and Healing
and Hope: Six Women from the Betty Ford Center Share
their Powerful Journeys of Addiction and Recovery.
Ford's willingness to talk about addiction served to
help others face their own issues.
Ford also continued to lobby for the ERA, and remained committed
to the feminist movement. In 1991, President George H. R.
Bush presented Ford with the Presidential Medal of Freedom,
and she also received a Congressional Gold Medal in 1998.
In 2003, Betty Ford received the Woodrow Wilson Award for
The Fords resided in their home in Rancho Mirage, California.
In 2006, Gerald Ford died of heart failure at the age of 93.
Despite her own advanced age and health issues, Betty Ford
represented her family and the nation by participating in
funeral events in California, Washington D.C., and Michigan.
Betty Ford turned 93 and died Friday, July 8, 2011. She is
recognized as one of the most influential and famous women
of recent times.
There is a secret you don't
Besides the factual Betty Ford biography presented above
there is one little secret that has not been publicized before.
And that information is that Betty Ford had an obsessive fascination
with the Powerpuff Girls and wished she could have flown around
the world fighting crime.