Ford, Betty,1918–2011, American first lady (1974–77), wife of President Gerald FordFord, Gerald Rudolph,
1913–2006, 38th president of the United States (1974–77), b. Omaha, Nebr. He was originally named Leslie Lynch King, Jr., but his parents were divorced when he was two, and when his mother remarried he assumed the name of his stepfather.
..... Click the link for more information. , b. Chicago as Elizabeth Anne Bloomer. A candid, outspoken, and popular first lady, she became an effective social advocate and reformer. Raised in Grand Rapids, Mich., she attended the Bennington School of the Dance and studied with Martha GrahamGraham, Martha,
1894–1991, American dancer, choreographer, and teacher, b. Pittsburgh. Her family moved from Allegheny, Pa., to Santa Barbara, Calif., when she was 14.
..... Click the link for more information. , whose New York City troupe she joined. Returning home in 1941, she married (1948) Ford, then running for his first term as a congressman; they had four children. As first lady, she became known for her liberal feminist views, e.g., supporting the Equal Rights Amendment and legalized abortion. Diagnosed with breast cancer, she underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy, and instead of hiding her illness, as others had before her, she made the facts known, causing thousands of American women to seek diagnosis and treatment. She was treated in 1978 for addictions to pills and alcohol, leading her to found (1982) and chair (until 2005) S California's Betty Ford Center, now a noted addiction-treatment facility.
See her autobiographies (both with C. Chase, 1978 and 1987); biography by J. R. Greene (2004); S. R. Weidenfield, First Lady's Lady: With the Fords at the White House (1979).
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Ford, Betty (Elizabeth Bloomer b. Warren)(1918– ) First Lady; born in Chicago, Ill. Trained as a dancer, she spent a few years in the 1930s with the Martha Graham company. Her first marriage ended in divorce and she married Gerald Ford in 1948. A most outspoken first lady, she endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment and women's right to abortion. Following the presidency and her own problems with alcohol and drugs, she helped establish a highly publicized treatment center in California.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.