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Betty Ford

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
Betty Ford

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 1974.

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 public service.

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 know …

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.


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