Gerald Ford marries Elizabeth Bloomer - HISTORY
Betty Ford addresses the International Women's Year meeting in Cleveland, Ohio amendment; it fails to pass two-thirds of the states and does not become law. National First Ladies' Library's biography for Betty Ford. After her two summers (, ) spent studying modern dance at Bennington College and a meeting Although she did not tour the country with the main Graham dance company, . *To date, Gerald Ford lived longer than any U.S. President, dying at the age of . Elizabeth Anne Ford (née Bloomer; April 8, – July 8, ) was the First Lady of the Bloomer became immersed in her life in Grand Rapids and did not return to New On October 15, , Elizabeth married Gerald Ford, a lawyer and World In May , during a four-day trip, Ford met with former Prime Minister of.
At age eight she started dance lessons, reflecting an interest that she would maintain throughout her life. To earn spending money, she taught dance to other children. After graduating from high school inshe spent two summers pursuing a dance career on the East Coast. She studied at Bennington College in Vermont, where she came under the influence of the legendary modern dancer, teacher, and choreographer Martha Graham.
To augment her meager earnings as a dancer, she modeled with the John Robert Powers agency. In she met and married William Warren. Details of the marriage are hazy, as Betty later insisted that she could remember very little about it. After five years she divorced him. Soon after her divorce Betty met Gerald R. Ford, a local lawyer and partner in the law firm of Butterfield, Keeney, and Amberg.
Gerald and Betty became engaged in Februarybut they delayed the ceremony so that he could devote more time to his campaign for a seat in the House of Representatives. He arrived for the wedding on October 15,after a morning of greeting voters. His victory in November sent the young couple to Washington, D. From to Betty gave birth to four children, three sons and one daughter. Because Gerald was away campaigning or speaking to Republican groups much of the time, the responsibilities of parenting fell mostly to Betty.
She sometimes joked that the family car went to the emergency room so often that it could make the trip on its own. In the mids, when she developed a pinched nerve and spinal arthritis, doctors prescribed pain medicine, to which she became addicted, as she later admitted.
Her own physical discomfort, combined with the stress of raising young children, prompted her to seek psychiatric treatment, which she later described as enormously helpful.
Her life as the inconspicuous wife of a congressman ended in October when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned and President Richard Nixon named Gerald Ford to the job, the first time that the 25th Amendment to the U. Constitutionwhich permitted the president to fill a vacancy in the office of vice president subject to confirmation by a majority vote of both houses of Congresswas invoked.
On August 9,after Nixon resigned over his involvement in the Watergate affair, Gerald became the first president who had never been elected president or vice president. Betty always had a reputation for candour, but she later said that the circumstances under which she became first lady underscored that predilection. She understood that, in the wake of Watergate, Americans demanded more honesty from their public officials. She was forthright in her revelation to the media about having sought psychiatric care in the context of explaining that Ford had attended two sessions with her doctor — not for himself but as a spouse, as part of her care; it was an issue Ford was questioned about during his testimony.
Capitol before a joint session of Congress. Betty Ford held the Bible that her husband placed his hand on to repeat the oath. It was in a televised interview with Barbara Walters that she first disclosed her support of the Supreme Court decision in Rose v.
Wade which legalized abortion. When the media broke the news that Betty Ford had been divorced from her first husband as if it were a dark revelation, she simply responded that none of the press had previously asked her about it; her response easily and naturally diffused any suggestion that she was seeking to disguise the truth and ultimately won her more admiration from the media.
As far as the growing Watergate scandal and rumors that President Nixon would be forced to resign, thus making Ford president, Betty Ford refused to indulge in any speculation, stating that while she would make any necessary sacrifices to help her husband fulfill his constitutional duties, it would be a trauma for the country to endure such an unprecedented action. She also emphasized her friendship with and admiration for Pat Nixon during the stressful time.
Privately, there was some tension with Nixon Administration officials in July offollowing the murder of the mother of assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
She took it upon herself to schedule her own attendance and appear at Mrs. She further stated her support of federally-funded daycare for children, a domestic initiative opposed by the Administration. The group was intended to gather both political spouses and those women working in all branches of government to exchange ideas on legislation and stay current on party activities and issues.
During a visit to Goodwill Industries she engaged with both blind and deaf workers for a period far lengthier than had been scheduled. In his Inaugural Address, Ford became the first president to ever make reference to his wife: She was the wife of a Vice President who had not been elected but rather appointed to the position when his incumbent-predecessor resigned, who then inherited the presidency upon the resignation of the incumbent President.
Inas the incumbent President, Gerald Ford entered the presidential primary election for the Republican Party nomination as the presidential candidate, his leading opponent being the former California Governor Ronald Reagan. Ford won the nomination at the 19 August convention, held in Kansas City, Missouri.
He then campaigned in the general race against Democratic presidential candidate and former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter. Betty Ford played a highly visible and significant role in the campaign, not only through her appearances and remarks throughout the country during the primary and general elections, but also as a symbol of moderate to liberal Republicanism — in contrast to the emerging moderate to conservative wing of the party.
She taped radio ads for Ford which were broadcast in new Hampshire, and went to Iowa before its caucuses, delivering a speech on behalf of the President, who was unable to appear as planned; in the speech, she emphasized that she was his political partner. Leading up to the Republican Convention, First Lady Betty Ford made campaign appearances and speeches in states with more liberal and moderate Republican voters and was purposely kept off the campaign trail in more conservative western and southern states by the Ford for President staff.
She also telephoned individual women delegates to ascertain their commitment to Ford. From Labor Day until Election Day, Betty Ford campaigned in western states including Colorado, California, Texas, Utah and northern midwestern states like Wisconsin, Illinois, and her native Michigan, making some nine multi-stop speaking tours.
The strenuous effort activated her pinched nerve; nevertheless she did not cancel her previously arranged schedule. Just as she had been thrust into the role of a political spouse just two months after her wedding inBetty Ford was thrust into the role of First Lady with no time for planning any goals or agenda.
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In fact, within two weeks of her assuming the position she had a state dinner to arrange for the King of Jordan. The press and the public were immediately enamored with Betty Ford and her family; less than a year earlier, they had been living a scenario that essentially mirrored the middle-class existence of most Americans.
Their phone number had been listed. Their garage was filled with sports gear and lawn care equipment. Among the family, this personal side of the new presidency was transmitted primarily by Betty Ford in simple, honest conversation in interviews, speeches and responses in a rare press conference by a First Lady, conducted on 4 September At that press conference, the new First Lady announced areas of interest that she would foster, such as the performing and fine arts, and disabled children.
However, she also reiterated her support of the Equal Rights Amendment and the Supreme Court decision in favor of legal abortion, and her having divorced and having consulted a psychiatrist. Two dramatic events that occurred within three weeks of the press conference, however, eclipsed any further indepth coverage of the issues Betty Ford raised in her press conference. She and her husband kept it secret until two days later, when the First Lady underwent a mastectomy.
Indeed, as the details of her breast cancer were disseminated in the wake of her disclosure, there were widespread reports of tens of thousands of American women seeking to also have mammograms.
By further using her own condition to discuss screening diagnosis, treatment options and the emotional process of surviving a mastectomy, she not only raised public awareness but forever changed the perception of the disease. As an individual who had gone through the process, she further became an example and symbol for those who had also faced or were just then facing breast cancer.
Finally, it was also the first time a First Lady had permitted reports of her own medical condition to be publicly released since Florence Harding had done so in With her cooperation, a complete account appeared in the 7 October issue of Newsweek magazine.
Some sixty thousand letters came to the First Lady, many with contributions which she donated to the American Cancer Society. The precise extent to which Betty Ford was involved is not clear; however, in a interview she stated unequivocally that her husband had discussed the matter with her and that she concurred with his instinct to grant the pardon as a way of ending any further burden on the country.
She also strongly supported his decision in public, despite the political cost to her husband for it.
As she predicted, over time, it was seen as a wise decision. She also quietly worked as a conduit on legislative and other domestic agenda issues, both to and from him to others. She also admitted to reviewing his more important speeches, offering advice to make cuts and use livelier language, without the need to always spell out details but rather leave audiences with some eagerness for further clarifications.
In the White House, Mrs. Ford emphasized that she was reducing both her family and public entertaining food costs by serving less-expensive poultry, substituting soup for the pricier fish course, having smaller portions served. Personally, she stated, she would have her older shoes dyed rather than buy new ones for each event she needed them, and purchased her cosmetics in larger bulk to keep cost down.
She employed various types of American crafts as centerpieces, ranging from Steuben glass to Native American reed baskets, antique tablecloths and even candle-holders made from wooden spools used at an historic New England textile mill. After-dinner entertainment was the liveliest and most informal it had been since the FDR Administration, with dancing always following — and the Fords always dancing.
On October 14,she was also pleased to see the first dancer ever to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom: Francis poem in her living suite. Her redecorating was largely limited to the Oval Office, which she redid in earth tone colors, then popular.
She had a distinctive fashion style, marked by the use of colorful scarves and high-neck Chinese-style collars on her gowns. Specifically, it was in her words and deeds to help encourage passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, intended to guarantee that equal rights under any federal, state, or local law could not be denied on account of gender. Her specific action planned involved direct lobbying by telephone calls and correspondence to representatives and senators in those state legislatures that had not yet passed or even voted on the amendment; four more were required in order for it to be ratified.
When busloads of anti-ERA protestors lobbied the Missouri legislature, she telephoned two wavering representatives to remain steadfast in their support. Just prior to the Georgia, Nevada North Carolina, Montana, Indiana, Oklahoma and Arizona legislatures were to vote on the measure in their states, she called individual members, lobbying them to support passage.
She had some success: Illinois voted it out of committee although it was defeated therethe Missouri legislators stood firm and it passed in North Dakota. Betty Ford received much praise from the majority of Americans, including Republicans. A month after her lobbying efforts, she had received 3, letters supporting her, and 2, opposing her.
She demanded that the White House reveal how much federal money was spent by the First Lady for using the phone to lobby or whether federal workers who attended a slide show in the East Room on the ERA were on paid time it turned out that a toll-free WATS telephone line had been used by Betty Ford to make her calls and that attendees at the lecture were on their lunchtime break. For the first time in history, a First Lady was picketed outside the gates of the White House for her political views: She spoke not only about equal rights for women, but of the desire of many women to play a larger role in society, not only having a career or pursuing further education or a profession — but also balancing that with the traditional duties of marriage and motherhood.
Ambassador to England, she was unable to convince him to chose a woman as a Supreme Court justice nominee or as his own vice presidential running mate in In part, she stated: Many barriers continue to the paths of most women, even on the most basic issue of equal pay for equal work…This year is not the time to cheer the visible few, but to work for the invisible many, whose lives are still restricted by custom and code….
Many…spring directly from those emotional ideas about what women can do and should do. These definitions of behavior and ability inhibit men and women alike, but the limits on women have been formalized into law and structured into social custom.
Betty Ford Fast Facts
For that reason, the first important steps have been to undo the laws that hem women in and lock them out of the mainstream of opportunities…my own support of the Equal Rights Amendment has shown what happens when a definition of proper behavior collides with the right of an individual to personal opinions.
I do not believe that being First Lady should prevent me from expressing my views. I spoke out on this important issue, because of my deep personal convictions. Why should my husband's job or yours prevent us from being ourselves? Being ladylike does not require silence. The Equal Rights Amendment…will help knock down those restrictions that have locked women in to old stereotypes of behavior and opportunity.
We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go -- part of that distance is within our own mind…[and] altering how women are treated in every area of everyday life…. Freedom for women to be what they want to be will help complete the circle of freedom America has been striving for during years…let us work to end the laws and remove the labels that limit the imagination and the options of men and women alike.
Success will open hearts and minds to new possibilities for all people. Much has been done, much remains, but we must keep moving on. When she received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Michigan on 19 Decembershe used her last speech as First Lady to continue to make the case for passage of the ERA. Having worked as a dancer on a public stage, Betty Ford was comfortable being thrust into a public role. She had no hesitation in making public speeches, articulating sensitive and intimate concerns, such as the disfigurement caused by a mastectomy, which she openly discussed before the American Cancer Society in the fall ofor calming a hotel ballroom full of guests in an emergency, as she did when a guest suffered a heart attack at a Jewish fundraiser in She also did not fear granting interviews with no previously-arranged questions, whether for print or broadcast.
Betty Ford Biography :: National First Ladies' Library
To magazine writer Myra McPherson she quipped that she and the President would sleep together contrary to recent traditions of presidential couples. When she felt that her remarks on the news interview show 60 Minutes about accepting the reality of unmarried couples living together were taken out of context, she referenced her own marriage as an example of her personal belief that the traditional union was preferable — yet that she respected others who did not share that view.
Those views and others expressed on 60 Minutes, addressed numerous issues that, despite reflecting a reality of life for many families at that time, nevertheless startled citizens unaccustomed to First Ladies verbalizing them. She emphasized the importance of her own psychiatric treatment and how it could help others suffering from depression and other mental and emotional problems.
The first floods of public mail ran in high opposition to Mrs. Ford at a rate of two to one; however, as news of this initial reaction was learned, the White House was overwhelmed with a greater percentage of supportive letters; among them were those who disagreed with some of her views on particular issues but who championed her frankness.
In the aftermath of the 60 Minutes interview, President Ford wanly joked that she had cost him only 20 million votes in the forthcoming presidential election.
Betty Ford - Wikipedia
Although her approval ratings actually shot up to a high of 75 percent, she reflected with concern, "I would give my life to have Jerry have my poll numbers". At times, the First Lady interceded on scheduling decisions made by his chief assistant Robert Hartmann.
Besides her innovative approach and tackling of thorny issues, Betty Ford also fulfilled her commitment to more traditional charities, particularly to children with special needs. Because it was a disease that struck women and received little to no public attention, Betty Ford also agreed to serve as honorary president of the National Lupus Foundation.
She also joined the President on twelve international trips, including to Romania, Poland, Yugoslavia and China; she did not, however, make any solo trips to foreign countries. By mid-May some 20, Indochinese refugees were processed into the United States. In the meanwhile, several hundred orphaned children were brought to the United States where adoptive parents awaited them.
Betty Ford flew with the President to San Francisco to welcome them, and she even briefly considered adopting one of the children. Once she had left Washington, D. As her drinking increased, the effect of her prescription pain medication drastically increased. It evidenced itself beyond her family and staff to the world at large with the broadcast of her narration of Peter and the Wolf in the Soviet Union months after she left the White House.