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Betty Ford

Betty Ford


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Betty Ford (1918-2011) adalah seorang ibu negara Amerika (1974-77) dan istri Gerald Ford, presiden Amerika Serikat ke-38. Ford menyadari kekuatan posisinya sebagai ibu negara sejak dini, ketika dia didiagnosis menderita kanker payudara tak lama setelah suaminya menjabat. Pengungkapan publiknya tentang subjek yang sebelumnya tabu mendorong ribuan wanita untuk mencari perawatan medis. Ford terus berbicara secara terbuka tentang sejumlah masalah sosial dan politik, yang membuatnya menerima kritik dan pujian. Pada tahun 1982, setelah mengatasi ketergantungannya sendiri pada alkohol dan pil resep, ia mendirikan Betty Ford Center, fasilitas perawatan penyalahgunaan zat dan kecanduan.

Masa muda

Elizabeth "Betty" Anne Bloomer adalah anak ketiga, dan putri tunggal, dari William Bloomer, Sr. dan Hortense Neahr. Ayah Elizabeth bekerja untuk Royal Rubber Company di Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ibunya terkait dengan keluarga manufaktur furnitur Grand Rapids yang kaya.

Ibu Betty menganggap anugerah sosial itu penting, jadi pada tahun 1926 Betty yang berusia delapan tahun mendaftar di Calla Travis Dance Studio di Grand Rapids, tempat dia belajar balet, ketukan, dan gerakan modern. Menari menjadi gairah, dan segera Betty memutuskan untuk mengejarnya sebagai karier. Pada usia 14 tahun, ia mengajar anak-anak kecil menari seperti foxtrot, waltz, dan "The Big Apple." Saat masih di sekolah menengah, ia membuka sekolah tari sendiri yang mengajar anak-anak dan orang dewasa.

Ketika Betty berusia 16 tahun, ayahnya sesak napas karena keracunan karbon monoksida saat mengerjakan mobil keluarga di garasi tertutup. Tidak pernah dikonfirmasi apakah kematiannya karena kecelakaan atau bunuh diri. Dengan hilangnya pencari nafkah utama, ibu Betty mendukung keluarga dengan bekerja sebagai agen real estat. Kekuatan dan kemandiriannya dalam menghadapi tragedi sangat memengaruhi Betty, membentuk pandangannya tentang upah yang setara dan kesetaraan bagi perempuan.

Setelah lulus dari sekolah menengah, Betty menghabiskan dua musim panas di Sekolah Tari Bennington di Vermont belajar di bawah bimbingan koreografer dan penari legendaris Martha Graham. Untuk membayar pelajarannya, dia bekerja sepanjang tahun sebagai model di department store Grand Rapids. Pada tahun 1940, Betty diterima untuk belajar dan bekerja dengan rombongan pembantu Martha Graham di New York City. Dia membuat banyak penampilan sebagai penari, termasuk pertunjukan di Carnegie Hall.

Pekerjaan dan Pernikahan Pertama

Hortense Bloomer tidak pernah sepenuhnya menerima pilihan karir putrinya dan mendesak Betty untuk pulang. Akhirnya, setelah menyadari bahwa dia mungkin tidak akan menjadi penari utama, Betty kembali ke Grand Rapids pada tahun 1941 untuk bekerja penuh waktu di department store Herpolscheimer. Setelah serangkaian promosi, ia menjadi koordinator mode untuk toko tersebut. Dia melanjutkan minatnya yang kuat dalam menari, mengajar di Travis Dance Studio di Grand Rapids dan mengorganisir kelompok tarinya sendiri. Dia juga menawarkan kelas dansa mingguan untuk anak-anak Afrika-Amerika, dan mengajar dansa ballroom untuk anak-anak dengan gangguan penglihatan dan pendengaran.

Pada tahun 1942, Betty Bloomer bertemu dan menikah dengan William C. Warren, seorang penjual furnitur yang dia kenal sejak dia berusia 12 tahun. Warren memiliki serangkaian pekerjaan di berbagai kota, sering kali sebagai penjual keliling, dan Betty terkadang bekerja sebagai penjual toko serba ada. dan model di kota tempat mereka tinggal. Namun, setelah tiga tahun, Betty menyadari pernikahan itu tidak akan berhasil. Dia menginginkan sebuah rumah, keluarga, dan anak-anak dan menjadi bosan dengan gaya hidup pasangan itu. Tapi sebelum dia sempat membahas perceraian, Warren jatuh sakit dengan diabetes akut. Sementara dia pulih selama dua tahun berikutnya, Betty bekerja untuk mendukung mereka berdua. Pengalaman ini meninggalkan kesan yang kuat tentang ketidaksetaraan dalam kompensasi antar gender untuk melakukan pekerjaan yang sama. Setelah Warren pulih, pasangan itu mengakhiri pernikahan mereka.

Pernikahan dengan Gerald Ford

Pada bulan Agustus 1947, Betty Warren bertemu pengacara berusia 34 tahun Gerald Ford, seorang letnan Angkatan Laut AS. Ford telah kembali dari tugas untuk melanjutkan praktik hukumnya, dan mencalonkan diri untuk Kongres AS. Pasangan itu berkencan selama setahun sebelum Ford melamar pada Februari 1948, dan pasangan itu menikah dua minggu sebelum pemilihan November. Dia memilih tanggal ini karena dia khawatir para pemilih di distrik konservatifnya mungkin akan berpikir dua kali tentang dia menikahi seorang mantan penari yang sudah bercerai. Selama makan malam latihan pernikahan, Gerald harus pergi lebih awal untuk membuat pidato kampanye. Sehari setelah pernikahan mereka, keluarga Ford menghadiri rapat umum politik, diikuti oleh pertandingan sepak bola Universitas Michigan, dan pidato oleh Gubernur New York Thomas Dewey . Gerald memenangkan pemilihan tiga minggu kemudian, mengantarkan Betty ke dunia politik.

Pada bulan Desember 1948, Ford pindah ke pinggiran Virginia di luar Washington, D.C. Betty dengan cepat membenamkan dirinya dalam proses politik. Dia mengenal nama dan posisi tokoh legislatif yang kuat, menjabat sebagai penasihat tidak resmi suaminya, dan berjejaring dengan pasangan anggota Kongres lainnya. Saat Ford membangun karier Kongresnya, memenangkan pemilihan ulang 13 kali dan naik ke posisi Pemimpin Minoritas DPR, Betty mengemban tanggung jawab tradisional sebagai ayah dan juga ibu bagi keempat anak mereka. Dia juga terlibat dengan organisasi amal dan pekerjaan sukarela.

Ibu Negara

Pada tanggal 6 Desember 1973, Ford diangkat sebagai Wakil Presiden di bawah Richard Nixon, setelah Wakil Presiden Spiro Angew mengundurkan diri. Kemudian, pada tanggal 9 Agustus 1974, dalam langkah yang belum pernah terjadi sebelumnya, Richard Nixon mengundurkan diri dari jabatannya di bawah tekanan dari skandal Watergate. Di bawah hukum Amerika Serikat, Gerald Ford menjadi Presiden Amerika Serikat ke-38. Betty Ford secara resmi menjadi Ibu Negara.

Dalam waktu singkat, menjadi jelas bahwa Ibu Negara yang baru akan membuat dampak.

Betty menjadi terkenal karena menari mengikuti musik disko di acara-acara informal Gedung Putih, dan sangat mahir dalam gerakan dansa, "The Bump." Dia mengobrol di radio CB-nya dengan nama panggilan "First Mama." Tapi Betty Ford juga bisa sangat serius dalam hal-hal seperti persamaan hak bagi perempuan, aborsi dan perceraian. Kadang-kadang, keterusterangannya menimbulkan ketidaksetujuan dari elemen-elemen Partai Republik yang lebih konservatif. Setelah penampilan 60 Menit di mana dia secara terbuka membahas bagaimana dia akan menasihati anak-anaknya jika mereka terlibat dalam seks pra-nikah dan narkoba, beberapa konservatif memanggilnya "No Lady" dan menuntut pengunduran dirinya. Tetapi negara secara keseluruhan menganggap keterbukaannya menarik, dan peringkat persetujuannya mencapai 75 persen.

Keinginan politik

Beberapa minggu setelah Betty Ford menjadi Ibu Negara, dia didiagnosis menderita kanker payudara ganas selama pemeriksaan rutin. Ford menjalani mastektomi, dan keterbukaannya tentang penyakitnya meningkatkan visibilitas penyakit yang sebelumnya enggan didiskusikan orang Amerika. Selama masa pemulihannya, dia menyadari pengaruh dan kekuatan menjadi Ibu Negara dalam mempengaruhi kebijakan dan menciptakan perubahan. Dia mendukung ERA (Amandemen Hak Asasi), dan melobi keras untuk pengesahannya. Dia juga menjadi advokat yang kuat untuk hak perempuan untuk memilih secara bebas dalam banyak keputusan yang mempengaruhi kehidupan mereka. Sebagai hasil dari usahanya, majalah Time menobatkannya sebagai wanita terbaik tahun 1975.

Pada tahun 1976, Betty Ford menunjukkan keterampilan politik bawaannya ketika suaminya mencalonkan diri sebagai presiden melawan penantang Demokrat dan mantan gubernur Georgia, Jimmy Carter. Ibu Negara memainkan peran yang sangat terlihat selama kampanye. Dia tidak hanya mengadvokasi suaminya, tetapi juga berdiri sebagai simbol Partai Republik yang moderat ketika sayap Partai Republik yang konservatif mulai muncul. Betty merekam iklan radio, berbicara di rapat umum, dan berkampanye dengan keras, meskipun kesehatannya sangat berat. Meskipun sebagian besar kegiatannya spontan, dia sering dibatasi untuk berhenti di negara bagian moderat hingga liberal oleh staf kampanye, yang terkadang khawatir bahwa Betty Ford tampil lebih liberal daripada Rosalynn Carter, istri kandidat Demokrat. Namun, dia tetap sangat populer di kalangan publik, dan banyak pendukung Presiden Ford mengenakan kancing bertuliskan "Pilih Suami Betty." Ketika Gerald Ford kalah dari Jimmy Carter dalam pemilihan, Betty Ford yang menyampaikan pidato konsesinya, karena suaminya menderita radang tenggorokan di hari-hari terakhir kampanye.

Berjuang dengan Ketergantungan

Sejak awal 1960-an, Betty Ford telah menggunakan analgesik opioid untuk nyeri akibat saraf terjepit. Ketergantungannya pada obat-obatan ini telah mereda selama waktunya di Gedung Putih, tetapi setelah meninggalkan Washington, D.C., kebiasaan minum alkoholnya meningkat—seperti halnya penggunaan obat resep. Pada tahun 1978, keluarga Ford melakukan intervensi, dan memaksa Betty untuk menghadapi penambahan alkohol dan pil pereda nyeri. Setelah kemarahan awalnya atas gangguan dalam hidupnya, Betty tetap di rumah selama seminggu, dan menjalani detoksifikasi yang dipantau. Dia kemudian memasuki Rumah Sakit Angkatan Laut Long Beach untuk rehabilitasi narkoba dan alkohol. Di sana, mantan Ibu Negara berbagi kamar dengan wanita lain, membersihkan toilet, dan berpartisipasi dalam sesi terapi emosional. Sesuai dengan rasa keasliannya, Betty sepenuhnya mengungkapkan kecanduannya dan pengobatan yang dihasilkan kepada publik tak lama setelah dia keluar dari rumah sakit.

Pengalaman dalam rehabilitasi narkoba memiliki efek mendalam pada Betty. Dia menyadari selama masa pemulihannya bahwa, sebagai mantan Ibu Negara, dia memiliki kekuatan untuk menciptakan perubahan dan mempengaruhi perilaku. Dia juga menyadari tidak ada fasilitas pemulihan yang secara khusus didirikan untuk membantu wanita dengan masalah unik yang terkait dengan penyalahgunaan narkoba dan alkohol. Pada tahun 1982, setelah sembuh total, Betty membantu mendirikan Betty Ford Center, yang didedikasikan untuk membantu semua orang, terutama wanita, dengan ketergantungan bahan kimia. Melalui pekerjaannya di Betty Ford Center, Betty mulai memahami hubungan antara kecanduan narkoba dan mereka yang menderita HIV/AIDS. Dia segera mulai menyuarakan dukungannya untuk hak-hak gay dan lesbian di tempat kerja, dan berbicara untuk mendukung pernikahan sesama jenis.

Tahun-tahun Terakhir

Pada tahun 1987, Betty Ford menerbitkan sebuah buku tentang perawatannya yang berjudul Betty: A Glad Awakening. Pada tahun 2003, Ford memproduksi buku lain, Penyembuhan dan Harapan: Enam Wanita dari Betty Ford Center Berbagi Perjalanan Kuat Mereka tentang Ketergantungan dan Pemulihan. Pada tahun 1991, ia mendapatkan Presidential Medal of Freedom oleh George H.W. Semak-semak; kemudian menerima Medali Emas Kongres pada tahun 1999; dan dihormati dengan Penghargaan Woodrow Wilson untuk layanan publik.

Gerald Ford, suami Betty selama 58 tahun, meninggal pada 26 Desember 2006, pada usia 93 tahun. Pasangan itu memiliki empat anak bersama: Michael, John, Steven, dan Susan. Setelah kematian suaminya, Betty menahan diri untuk tidak tampil di depan umum, tetapi tetap aktif sebagai ketua emeritus Betty Ford Center.

Pada tanggal 8 Juli 2011, Ford meninggal karena sebab alami di Eisenhower Medical Center di Rancho Mirage, California. Setelah kematiannya, peti matinya diterbangkan ke Grand Rapids, Michigan, di mana ia diletakkan di Museum Gerald Ford pada malam 13 Juli 2011. Dia dimakamkan di sebelah suaminya selama upacara pemakaman pada 14 Juli 2011, di atas apa akan menjadi ulang tahun suaminya yang ke-98.

Biografi milik BIO.com


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Betty Ford

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Betty Ford, nee Elizabeth Anne Bloomer, (lahir 8 April 1918, Chicago, Illinois, AS—meninggal 8 Juli 2011, Rancho Mirage, California), ibu negara Amerika (1974–77)—istri Gerald Ford, presiden Amerika Serikat ke-38—dan pendiri dari Betty Ford Center, sebuah fasilitas yang didedikasikan untuk membantu orang pulih dari ketergantungan obat dan alkohol. Dia terkenal karena pendapatnya yang kuat tentang masalah publik dan keterusterangannya tentang masalah intim.

Betty Bloomer adalah satu-satunya putri William Bloomer, seorang salesman, dan Hortense Neahr Bloomer. Ketika dia berusia dua tahun, keluarganya, termasuk dua kakak laki-lakinya, pindah ke Grand Rapids, Michigan, di mana dia bersekolah di sekolah umum. Pada usia delapan tahun, dia memulai pelajaran menari, mencerminkan minat yang akan dia pertahankan sepanjang hidupnya. Untuk mendapatkan uang belanja, dia mengajar menari kepada anak-anak lain. Setelah lulus dari sekolah menengah pada tahun 1936, ia menghabiskan dua musim panas mengejar karir tari di Pantai Timur.

Dia belajar di Bennington College di Vermont, di mana dia berada di bawah pengaruh penari modern legendaris, guru, dan koreografer Martha Graham. Seperti yang kemudian ditulis Betty, Graham "lebih dari siapa pun ... membentuk hidup saya." Ketika Graham menerimanya ke dalam rombongan New York City-nya, Betty pindah ke West Side Manhattan. Untuk menambah penghasilannya yang sedikit sebagai penari, dia menjadi model dengan agensi John Robert Powers. Meski tidak pernah menjadi penari utama, Betty tampil sebagai salah satu pembantu Graham dan senang dengan teknik tari modern yang menjadi ciri khas Graham.

Atas desakan ibunya, Betty meninggalkan rombongan Graham dan kembali tinggal di Grand Rapids, di mana ia bekerja sebagai konsultan mode dan mengajar tari kepada anak-anak cacat. Pada tahun 1942 ia bertemu dan menikah dengan William Warren. Rincian pernikahan itu kabur, karena Betty kemudian bersikeras bahwa dia hanya bisa mengingat sedikit tentang hal itu. Setelah lima tahun dia menceraikannya.

Segera setelah perceraiannya, Betty bertemu Gerald R. Ford, seorang pengacara lokal dan mitra di firma hukum Butterfield, Keeney, dan Amberg. Gerald dan Betty bertunangan pada Februari 1948, tetapi mereka menunda upacara agar dia bisa mencurahkan lebih banyak waktu untuk kampanyenya untuk mendapatkan kursi di Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat. Dia tiba untuk pernikahan pada 15 Oktober 1948, setelah pagi menyapa para pemilih. Kemenangannya pada bulan November mengirim pasangan muda itu ke Washington, D.C., tempat mereka tinggal selama tiga dekade berikutnya. Dari tahun 1950 hingga 1957 Betty melahirkan empat anak, tiga putra dan satu putri.

Karena Gerald sering berkampanye atau berbicara dengan kelompok Republik, tanggung jawab mengasuh anak sebagian besar jatuh ke tangan Betty. Dia terkadang bercanda bahwa mobil keluarga pergi ke ruang gawat darurat begitu sering sehingga bisa melakukan perjalanan sendiri. Pada pertengahan 1960-an, ketika dia menderita saraf terjepit dan radang sendi tulang belakang, dokter meresepkan obat pereda nyeri, yang membuatnya kecanduan, seperti yang kemudian dia akui. Ketidaknyamanan fisiknya sendiri, dikombinasikan dengan stres membesarkan anak-anak, mendorongnya untuk mencari perawatan psikiatris, yang kemudian dia gambarkan sebagai sangat membantu.

Hidupnya sebagai istri seorang anggota kongres berakhir pada Oktober 1973 ketika Wakil Presiden Spiro Agnew mengundurkan diri dan Presiden Richard Nixon menunjuk Gerald Ford untuk pekerjaan itu, pertama kalinya Amandemen ke-25 Konstitusi AS, yang mengizinkan presiden untuk mengisi kekosongan. di kantor wakil presiden (tunduk pada konfirmasi dengan suara mayoritas dari kedua majelis Kongres), dipanggil. Pada tanggal 9 Agustus 1974, setelah Nixon mengundurkan diri karena keterlibatannya dalam urusan Watergate, Gerald menjadi presiden pertama yang tidak pernah terpilih sebagai presiden atau wakil presiden.

Betty selalu memiliki reputasi untuk keterusterangan, tetapi dia kemudian mengatakan bahwa keadaan di mana dia menjadi ibu negara menggarisbawahi kecenderungan itu. Dia mengerti bahwa, setelah Watergate, orang Amerika menuntut lebih banyak kejujuran dari pejabat publik mereka. Komitmennya terhadap keterbukaan segera diuji. Pada 28 September 1974, hanya beberapa minggu setelah dia pindah ke Gedung Putih, dokternya melakukan mastektomi, mengangkat payudara kanannya yang kanker. Istri presiden sebelumnya telah menyembunyikan penyakit mereka, terutama yang khas wanita, tetapi dia dan suaminya memutuskan untuk mengungkapkan fakta. Tergerak oleh teladannya, wanita di seluruh negeri pergi ke dokter mereka untuk pemeriksaan. Betty mengatakan saat itulah dia mengenali kekuatan besar ibu negara untuk membuat perbedaan. Meskipun kemoterapi diikuti, dia terus melakukan tugasnya sebagai ibu negara.

Betty terkadang berkata bahwa dia mengagumi Bess Truman karena gayanya yang sederhana dan Eleanor Roosevelt karena kemandiriannya, dan dia berusaha untuk meniru keduanya. Hanya beberapa hari setelah pindah ke Gedung Putih, dia bertemu dengan wartawan dan mengejutkan mereka dengan mengumumkan bahwa beberapa pandangannya—termasuk dukungannya untuk Kijang v. Menyeberang, keputusan Mahkamah Agung yang melegalkan aborsi—lebih mirip dengan keputusan Partai Republik liberal daripada suaminya. Dia juga sangat mendukung Amandemen Persamaan Hak (ERA), kemudian diratifikasi di beberapa badan legislatif negara bagian, melobi perwakilan yang ragu-ragu dalam panggilan telepon dan pertemuan. Amandemen tersebut gagal, bagaimanapun, ketika jumlah negara yang diperlukan gagal untuk meratifikasinya dalam waktu yang ditentukan. Para pengkritiknya keberatan bahwa dia seharusnya tidak melakukan intervensi, meskipun para pendukungnya memuji keterlibatannya.

Betty mendapat perhatian nasional untuk penampilannya di program berita televisi 60 menit pada bulan Agustus 1975. Ketika ditanya tentang pandangannya tentang seks pranikah, dia mengatakan bahwa dia tidak akan terkejut mengetahui bahwa putrinya yang berusia 18 tahun telah berselingkuh. Dia mengatakan bahwa, sebagai seorang ibu, dia akan menasihati putrinya dan mencoba mencari tahu sesuatu tentang “pemuda itu.” Ketika program itu ditayangkan, media cetak mengutipnya di luar konteks, membuatnya terdengar sangat berbeda dari yang dia lakukan dalam wawancara. Gerald mengatakan bahwa, ketika dia melihat program itu, dia menghitung bahwa itu akan menghabiskan 10 juta suara, tetapi dia menggandakan kerusakan ketika dia membaca versi cetaknya. Namun, pesimismenya tidak beralasan. Popularitas Betty melonjak, dan Waktu majalah kemudian menamainya Woman of the Year. Tombol muncul yang mempromosikan pencalonannya untuk jabatan nasional, meskipun dia tidak memberikan dukungan untuk upaya tersebut.

Setelah Gerald Ford kalah tipis dalam pemilihan 1976 dari Jimmy Carter, Ford pensiun ke Rancho Mirage, California, di mana ketergantungan Betty pada obat resep berlanjut. Pada awal 1978, di bawah tekanan dari keluarganya, dia setuju untuk masuk ke pusat perawatan di Long Beach. Setelah perawatannya yang sukses di sana, dia mendirikan Betty Ford Center pada tahun 1982 untuk membantu merawat orang lain dengan kecanduan serupa dan memimpin dewan direksi hingga tahun 2005. Pusat tersebut menjadi populer dan menarik klien dari semua lapisan masyarakat. Pada tahun 1991 ia dianugerahi Presidential Medal of Freedom oleh Presiden AS George H.W. Bush atas usahanya untuk mempromosikan kesadaran publik dan pengobatan alkohol dan kecanduan narkoba dia dan Gerald Ford menerima Medali Emas Kongres pada tahun 1999.

Hidupnya dicatat dalam film yang dibuat untuk televisi tahun 1987 Kisah Betty Ford. Dia menerbitkan dua buku, Betty: Kebangkitan yang Menyenangkan (1987) dan Penyembuhan dan Harapan: Enam Wanita dari Betty Ford Center Berbagi Perjalanan Kuat Mereka tentang Ketergantungan dan Pemulihan (2003). Meskipun sebagian besar tentang hidupnya tradisional, Betty Ford menyusun catatan yang sangat independen sebagai ibu negara, dan dia menjadi sangat populer karena kejujuran dan keterusterangannya.


Betty Ford, Penari

Betty Ford dikenal sebagai aktivis yang bersemangat untuk hak-hak perempuan. Banyak yang tidak tahu bahwa dia juga seorang penari modern yang berbakat.

Terlahir sebagai Elizabeth Bloomer, calon Ibu Negara selalu tahu bahwa dia ingin menjadi penari. Pada usia 8 tahun, Betty mulai mengambil kelas balet klasik di kota kelahirannya Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Pada saat dia berusia 12 tahun, dia mulai mengajar kelas dansa kepada siswa yang lebih muda dan menjadi model pakaian, sebagian untuk membantu mendukung keluarganya selama Depresi.

Dia bertemu koreografer tari modern Martha Graham beberapa tahun kemudian, memicu minatnya pada tari modern. Pada tahun 1992, dia mengatakan kepada surat kabar Desert Sun dari Palm Springs, California, “Saya adalah seorang wanita muda, mungkin berusia 16 tahun. Saya pergi ke konser yang dia lakukan di Ann Arbor, Michigan dan begitu saya melihat Martha dalam konser dengan grupnya di Ann Arbor, seluruh ide saya tentang tarian berubah. Itu memiliki daya tarik yang luar biasa bagi saya, apakah itu kebebasan bergerak [atau] energi yang dibawa kelompok itu.”

Kepala perusahaan dansa Miss Bloomer mengatur agar dia berbicara dengan Graham. Ketika Bloomer memberi tahu Graham bahwa dia ingin berdansa dengan perusahaan Graham, koreografer menjawab, "Kami ingin memilikimu."

Setelah lulus dari sekolah menengah pada tahun 1936, Bloomer menghadiri Sekolah Tari Bennington di Vermont. Di sana, ia belajar di bawah beberapa koreografer tari modern, termasuk Graham, Louis Horst, Doris Humphrey, dan Charles Weidman.

Bloomer akhirnya berdansa dengan perusahaan Graham di New York sebagai "pengganti atau pembantu ketika dia membutuhkan lebih banyak orang." Pada tahun 1938, ia tampil di Carnegie Hall.

Di Gedung Putih, Betty Ford tidak hanya pendukung persamaan hak tetapi juga seni. Pada tahun 1976, dia meyakinkan Presiden Ford untuk menghormati tarian modern dengan menganugerahkan Martha Graham Medal of Freedom di resepsi dan pertunjukan besar.

Dia terus menari sepanjang hidupnya.

Pelajari lebih lanjut tentang First Lady Ford dengan mengunjungi situs web Ford Presidential Library. Dan untuk informasi lebih lanjut tentang Betty Ford 100 kunjungi halaman Perpustakaan Presiden.


Betty Ford

Dalam 25 tahun kehidupan politik, Betty Bloomer Ford tidak berharap menjadi ibu negara. Sebagai istri dari Perwakilan Gerald R. Ford, dia menantikan masa pensiunnya dan lebih banyak waktu bersama. Pada akhir tahun 1973, pemilihannya sebagai wakil presiden merupakan kejutan baginya. Dia baru saja terbiasa dengan peran baru mereka ketika dia menjadi presiden setelah pengunduran diri Presiden Nixon pada Agustus 1974.

Lahir sebagai Elizabeth Anne Bloomer di Chicago, ia dibesarkan di Grand Rapids, Michigan, dan lulus dari sekolah menengah di sana. Dia belajar tari modern di Bennington College di Vermont, memutuskan untuk berkarier, dan menjadi anggota grup konser terkenal Martha Graham di New York City, mendukung dirinya sebagai model fesyen untuk perusahaan John Robert Powers.

Hubungan dekat dengan keluarga dan kampung halamannya membawanya kembali ke Grand Rapids, di mana ia menjadi koordinator mode untuk sebuah department store. Dia juga mengorganisir kelompok tari sendiri dan mengajar tari untuk anak-anak cacat.

Pernikahan pertamanya, pada usia 24, berakhir dengan perceraian lima tahun kemudian dengan alasan ketidakcocokan. Tidak lama kemudian dia mulai berkencan dengan Jerry Ford, pahlawan sepak bola, lulusan Universitas Michigan dan Sekolah Hukum Yale, dan segera menjadi kandidat Kongres. Mereka menikah selama kampanye 1948 dia memenangkan pemilihannya dan Ford tinggal di daerah Washington selama hampir tiga dekade sesudahnya.

Keempat anak mereka—Michael, Jack, Steven, dan Susan—lahir dalam 10 tahun ke depan. Ketika karir politik suaminya menjadi lebih menuntut, Betty Ford mendapati dirinya memikul banyak tanggung jawab keluarga. Dia mengawasi rumah, memasak, melakukan pekerjaan sukarela, dan mengambil bagian dalam kegiatan "istri rumah tangga" dan "istri Senat" untuk klub Kongres dan Republik. Selain itu, dia adalah juru kampanye yang efektif untuk suaminya.

Betty Ford menghadapi kehidupan barunya sebagai ibu negara dengan martabat dan ketenangan. Dia menerimanya sebagai tantangan. “Saya sangat menyukai tantangan,” katanya. Dia memiliki kepercayaan diri untuk mengekspresikan dirinya dengan humor dan terus terang baik berbicara dengan teman atau kepada publik. Dipaksa menjalani operasi radikal untuk kanker payudara pada tahun 1974, dia meyakinkan banyak wanita bermasalah dengan mendiskusikan cobaan beratnya secara terbuka. Dia menjelaskan bahwa "mungkin jika saya sebagai ibu negara dapat membicarakannya dengan jujur ​​dan tanpa rasa malu, banyak orang lain juga akan dapat melakukannya." Sesegera mungkin, dia melanjutkan tugasnya sebagai nyonya rumah di Executive Mansion dan perannya sebagai warga negara yang berjiwa publik. Dia tidak ragu untuk menyatakan pandangannya tentang isu-isu kontroversial seperti Amandemen Persamaan Hak, yang sangat dia dukung.

Dari rumah mereka di California, dia sama jujurnya tentang perjuangannya yang sukses melawan ketergantungan pada obat-obatan dan alkohol. Dia membantu mendirikan Betty Ford Center untuk perawatan kecanduan di Eisenhower Medical Center di Rancho Mirage.

Dalam retrospeksi Betty menggambarkan peran ibu negara sebagai "lebih dari pekerjaan 24 jam daripada siapa pun akan menebak" dan mengatakan tentang pendahulunya: "Sekarang saya menyadari apa yang harus mereka hadapi, saya memiliki rasa hormat dan kekaguman untuk masing-masing dari mereka.” Betty Ford meninggal pada 2011 pada usia 93 dan dimakamkan bersama suaminya di Museum Kepresidenan Gerald R. Ford di Grand Rapids, Michigan.


5 hal yang tidak Anda ketahui tentang Betty Ford

Saat itu hari Sabtu di tahun 1978. Bahkan dua tahun sebelumnya, Betty Ford tinggal di Gedung Putih, menjunjung tinggi gelar ibu negara. Sekarang suaminya, mantan Presiden Gerald Ford, empat anak dan dokter berkumpul di ruang tamu California-nya untuk menyampaikan berita yang tidak ingin dia dengar - atau percayai.

Satu per satu, orang yang dicintainya mengkonfrontasinya tentang masalah penyalahgunaan zat. Jack menceritakan bagaimana dia tidak pernah ingin membawa teman-teman pulang, karena takut akan "bentuk" seperti apa Ibu itu. Susan menceritakan bagaimana dia dulu mengagumi tarian ibunya, tetapi sekarang dia selalu "jatuh dan canggung." Kemudian 19 tahun, dia mengatur seluruh intervensi.

“Kami ingin Anda mendengarkan, karena kami mencintaimu,” kata Gerald Ford kepada istrinya.

“Riasan saya tidak ternoda, saya tidak acak-acakan, saya berperilaku sopan, dan saya tidak pernah menghabiskan sebotol, jadi bagaimana saya bisa menjadi pecandu alkohol?” dia pikir.

Penulis Claudia Kalb menggambarkan perjuangan Betty Ford selama beberapa dekade dengan alkoholisme dan penyalahgunaan obat resep dalam “Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities” (National Geographic, 2016). Buku terlaris The New York Times melihat 12 tokoh sejarah terkenal dan kesehatan mental mereka.

Beberapa, seperti Ford, blak-blakan tentang kondisi mereka. Yang lain memiliki gejala yang menurut para ahli kesehatan mental mungkin telah didiagnosis hari ini, termasuk Albert Einstein, yang menunjukkan perilaku yang terkait dengan autisme, dan George Gershwin, yang energi tak terbatasnya mungkin dikaitkan dengan gangguan hiperaktivitas defisit perhatian.

Kalb, mantan penulis senior Newsweek, akan memberikan ceramah di pameran buku tahunan Pusat Komunitas Yahudi Metropolitan Detroit pada pukul 11 ​​pagi Senin tentang evolusi dan pengobatan kondisi kesehatan mental dan bagaimana mereka mempengaruhi orang lain.

“Tujuan utama saya adalah untuk mengatasi masalah stigma melalui mendongeng dan membuat orang tahu bahwa tidak ada yang kebal,” kata Kalb tentang menulis buku itu.

Dalam sebuah wawancara telepon dari Washington, D.C., daerah tempat dia tinggal, Kalb mengatakan Ford hanyalah salah satu contohnya. Meskipun dia selalu mencontohkan "Pesona dan kejujuran Midwestern" dan mengadvokasi sesama pasien kanker payudara setelah diagnosisnya, ibu negara berjuang dengan masalah harga diri dan kesepian ketika suaminya tidak bekerja.

“Kami mengingatnya sebagai orang yang sangat kuat dan berani dan penuh percaya diri, tetapi dia tidak begitu percaya diri ketika dia berada di masa-masa awal kehidupan politik di Washington. . Dia benar-benar menderita dengan rasa tidak aman dan perasaan rendah diri pada waktu itu, dan obat-obatan dan alkohol memainkan kerentanan itu, ”kata Kalb.

Ford mulai menggunakan obat resep, awalnya untuk mengobati saraf terjepit. Dia benci "merasa lumpuh," jadi dia minum lebih banyak obat - sampai dia meminum 25 pil sehari, dan "alkohol menjadi obat mujarab yang menenangkan," tulis Kalb dalam bab tersebut.

“Saya memiliki koleksi obat-obatan yang lezat — saya melakukan sedikit resep sendiri jika satu pil baik, dua harus lebih baik — dan ketika saya menambahkan vodka ke dalam campuran, saya pindah ke tempat kabur yang indah di mana semuanya baik-baik saja, saya bisa mengatasinya,” kenang Ford.

Kalb mengatakan dia memilih untuk menyoroti Ford, daripada banyak selebriti yang telah berjuang dengan kecanduan, karena penduduk asli Grand Rapids dalam banyak hal lebih menyenangkan dan "dari orang-orang."

“Ketika dia tumbuh besar di Michigan, dia bekerja di sebuah department store, menghabiskan waktu bersama teman-teman dan dia menikah,” kata Kalb, “Dia seperti banyak orang yang menjalani hidup, dan ketika dia mulai berjuang dengan kecanduan, dia kebetulan ikut dalam perjalanan ke ibu negara bersama suaminya. ”

Betty Ford meninggal pada tahun 2011 pada usia 93, setelah mengatasi kecanduannya dan mendirikan Betty Ford Center pada tahun 1982 untuk membantu pecandu lain pulih. Kalb membagikan beberapa hal yang mungkin tidak Anda ketahui tentang ibu negara ke-38, yang ia pelajari selama penelitiannya untuk buku tersebut.

Betty Ford berlatih dengan penari dan koreografer Martha Graham

Di Sekolah Tari Bennington di Vermont, Ford (saat itu Elizabeth Ann Bloomer) bertemu dengan penari modern legendaris Martha Graham. Dia kemudian belajar dengannya di New York City dan tampil dalam pertunjukan di Carnegie Hall. Tapi Graham sangat ketat, kata Kalb, dan menghukum Ford, seorang sosialis, karena tidak memberinya perhatian penuh untuk menari. Sementara itu, ibunya, Hortense Bloomer, melihat teman putrinya menikah dan menetap dengan suami di Grand Rapids, memintanya untuk kembali. “Ibunya mulai memohon agar dia kembali ke rumah,” kata Kalb, “dan akhirnya, ibunya menang.”

Betty Ford menikah dengan seorang pria sebelum Gerald Ford

Namanya William Warren, dan dia mengajak Betty ke pesta dansa sekolah pertamanya pada usia 12 tahun. Tapi itu tidak berhasil. Warren berkecimpung dalam bisnis asuransi dan lebih suka bergaul dengan teman-temannya daripada bersamanya. Setelah lima tahun menikah, Ford mengajukan gugatan cerai. Dia kemudian menikah dengan Gerald Ford di Grand Rapids pada tahun 1948. “Gerald Ford tampaknya tidak mempermasalahkan hal itu,” kata Kalb, “meskipun itu adalah era ketika perceraian jauh lebih jarang terjadi, mungkin karena orang tua Ford sendiri telah bercerai ketika dia masih bayi.” Setelah Ford menjadi wakil presiden, seorang reporter majalah People bertanya mengapa dia tidak pernah berbicara tentang perceraian itu. Tanggapannya: "Yah, tidak ada yang pernah bertanya kepada saya."

Butuh pasien rehabilitasi lain bagi Ford untuk mengakui bahwa dia punya masalah

"Di sini dia baru saja keluar dari Gedung Putih, gelar ibu negara hampir tidak ada, dan dia menemukan dirinya dalam rehabilitasi dengan orang-orang yang berjuang dengan kecanduan," kata Kalb. “Sangat sulit baginya untuk menerima.” Ketika Ford pergi ke rehabilitasi, sekitar ulang tahunnya yang ke-60, dia awalnya mengakui penyalahgunaan obat resep - tetapi bukan alkoholisme. “Dia bisa menerima obat-obatan karena mereka telah diresepkan untuk tujuan medis, dan itu tidak memiliki stigma yang sama dengan 'Anda minum terlalu banyak dan membuat pilihan yang buruk,'” kata Kalb. Itu adalah penyangkalan pasien lain, yang mengatakan bahwa minumnya tidak menyebabkan penderitaan bagi keluarganya, yang memengaruhi Ford untuk mengakui bahwa dia memiliki masalah minum. "Tiba-tiba saya berdiri, dan saya berkata, 'Saya Betty, dan saya seorang pecandu alkohol, dan saya tahu minuman saya telah menyakiti keluarga saya,'" kenangnya. “Karena saya pikir, demi Tuhan, jika dia tidak cukup berani untuk mengatakannya, saya akan melakukannya. Itu mengejutkan saya untuk mendengar diri saya sendiri, namun itu melegakan. ”

Ford meyakinkan Mary Tyler Moore untuk kembali ke rehabilitasi

Ketika pasien mengancam akan meninggalkan Betty Ford Center, dia masuk dan meyakinkan mereka untuk tetap tinggal, kata Kalb. Itulah yang terjadi dengan aktris Mary Tyler Moore, yang masuk ke fasilitas itu pada tahun 1984 untuk dirawat karena ketergantungan alkohol. Moore memiliki reaksi yang sama dengan ibu negara ketika dia tiba di rehabilitasi. “Dia sama sekali tidak ingin berada di sana,” kata Kalb. Moore felt she was above the mundane tasks of cleaning and abiding rules. So she snuck out in a taxi to a Marriott. The next morning, Ford gave her a ring. “That phone call saved my life,” Moore wrote in her memoir “After All.” “I returned on my knees, pleading for reentry.”

Ford didn’t want her name on the rehabilitation center

“She didn’t want the center to be about her. She wanted it to be about recovery,” Kalb says. But she was convinced otherwise. In a 2002 NPR interview, Gerald Ford said it was “fortuitous” that the center included her name. “It had a certain attractiveness to people who needed help,” he said. Decades later, over 90,000 people — from actress Elizabeth Taylor, singer Johnny Cash and actress Drew Barrymore, to parents who want to sober up for their families — have sought treatment at the facility.

“The Betty Ford Center, everybody knows that name,” Kalb says, and having “Betty Ford” in the title is, in part, why it’s so significant.

“It indicates that anybody can have a problem with addiction, even somebody as high level as the first lady,” she says. “It reinforces the reality that you’re not alone — Betty Ford has been there, too. She really struggled, she got through it and she turned her own experience around to save lives.”


The Partnership of Betty and Gerald Ford

Yanek Mieczkowski is Professor of History at Dowling College in New York. The author of The Routledge Historical Atlas of Presidential Elections (2001) and Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970s (2005), he is finishing a new book, The Great Cold War Moment: Eisenhower, Sputnik, and the Race for Space and World Prestige.

In February 1948, Gerald Ford, then a Grand Rapids lawyer, told Betty Bloomer, the fashion designer he was dating, “I’d like to marry you, but we can’t get married until next fall and I can’t tell you why.” Those cryptic words began a partnership that spanned nearly sixty years. At its core was their love, but it also represented a political bond that lasted a quarter century on Capitol Hill and transformed the White House during their 895 days as First Couple.

What Ford could not divulge to Betty in 1948 was his plan to run for Michigan’s Fifth District congressional seat. That fall his life changed dramatically. In October he married Betty, and the next month he won a seat in Congress, marking the first of thirteen consecutive terms.

Ford’s marriage to Betty coincided with the start of his political career, and she became not just a housewife but a “House wife,” as the harried spouses of congressmen were called. During Ford’s first campaign, she already tasted the sacrifices of political life. On their wedding day, Ford showed up late, his shoes muddied from campaigning on a farm. Betty joked that if she had to wait longer, she would have run off with the best man.

She showed the same good nature as the tandem demands of family life and Ford’s career increased. The couple had four children—Mike, Jack, Steve, and Susan—and when Ford worked even on Saturdays, his family often accompanied him to his office, with Betty reading and the children frolicking in Capitol Hill’s Statuary Hall (where in May 2011 a new statue of Gerald Ford was unveiled).

In 1965, when Ford became House minority leader, his responsibilities multiplied. With her husband traveling two hundred days a year on speaking engagements, Betty became a political widow, often left alone to raise a family. Ford admitted, “She has been not only a mother to the children, but in many respects, a father as well.” Betty handled the dual roles with equanimity and her trademark humor. One morning, when she awoke to find her husband lying next to her, she asked, “What are you doing here?”

In 1974, when Ford became president following Richard Nixon’s resignation, he paid tribute to Betty in his inaugural address, saying, “I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman—my dear wife—as I begin this very difficult job.”

Betty’s personality helped to define the new administration. Ford strove to establish an “open” White House, freed from Nixon’s bunker mentality. He granted frequent interviews and invited members of Congress from both parties to the Oval Office. Betty did her part. After learning that Nixon’s White House staff had received instructions to be silent and inconspicuous, she urged them to chat freely with the First Family. She was pleased once to see the White House butler comparing golf scores with the president.

At a time when Americans felt the aftereffects of the often combative, truculent leadership styles of Nixon and Lyndon Johnson, Betty reduced the White House’s imperial overtones. In the Oval Office, where Nixon had an imposing-looking bald eagle staring out from a cold blue rug, Betty had a warm, yellow rug installed. She complained that the military battle scenes on the dining room wallpaper were grim soon, yellow paint replaced them.

Reducing the regal hue of the White House had a functional purpose, too. A dominant issue of mid-1970s America was high inflation, and reducing it was one of Gerald Ford’s foremost goals—and his notable legacy—as president. Betty tried to focus attention on this scourge by stressing simplicity, which fit her husband’s down-to-earth nature. The White House Christmas tree was simple, with “no tinsel, no sequins,” as she requested, and she sometimes asked the chef to prepare no-frills meals for her family, such as tuna casseroles. Yet in adding these modest touches, she still maintained the presidency’s majesty. As Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s wife Nancy praised her, “Betty is uniquely able to create an atmosphere of warmth and relaxation without losing the dignity of the occasion—and that’s a hard balance to hit.”

Betty made other substantive contributions to Ford’s presidency on the era’s important issues. After South Vietnam collapsed in 1975, a flood of refugees entered the U.S ., prompting xenophobic protests that the Fords considered shameful and un-American. To demonstrate a more humane spirit toward the newcomers, Betty visited a South Vietnamese refugee center at Camp Pendleton, California.

As many First Ladies have, Betty championed special causes. Having once taught children dance in Grand Rapids, she supported federal arts funding and projects for deaf and handicapped children. Since she studied dance under Martha Graham and called her “the first lady of dance,” Betty lobbied hard to see that Graham receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

Ford valued his wife’s political instincts, and Betty liked to engage in “pillow talk,” badgering the president on issues just before bedtime, when he was tired and likely to give in. One priority was female appointments to the executive branch and Supreme Court, and she proudly pointed to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Carla Hills and Anne Armstrong, the ambassador to Britain. Had she been more persistent with her husband, she said, the first woman on the Supreme Court might have come during the Ford presidency.

That sort of candor won Betty the greatest attention. She took liberal positions on many social issues, favoring the Equal Rights Amendment, gun control, and abortion rights. During a 1975 interview on “60 Minutes,” she praised Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, as a “great, great decision,” words that elicited outrage from conservatives. The angry reaction, she later recalled, “terrified me. I was afraid I might have become a real political liability to Jerry.” Gearing up to run for a full term in 1976, Ford threw a pillow at her in mock anger when they watched the program together. He said that when he first heard about her remarks, he thought he’d lose ten million votes. “Then when I read about it,” he quipped, “I raised that to twenty million.”

A health scare one month into the Ford presidency also put Betty’s candor on view, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. The frank disclosure of her illness prompted thousands of women nationwide to undergo breast cancer screenings and led to a spike in donations to the American Cancer Society. Among those women who sought an examination was Happy Rockefeller, wife of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, who learned she, too, had breast cancer and received treatment for it she credited Betty with saving her life.

Betty recovered from cancer and loved being First Lady. She actually got to see more of her husband than while he was a congressman, and she had the White House staff to cook and tend house for her, luxuries she never enjoyed as a congressional spouse. She especially enjoyed communing with average Americans, writing, “I loved it when we’d ride down the streets in a motorcade and people would yell, ‘Hi, Betty’….Those people identified with me, they knew I was no different from them, it was just that fate had put me in this situation.”

By 1976, polls showed Betty was the most popular First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt, prompting Ford to say she should travel the country to boost his own approval ratings. She campaigned gamely for him in the presidential race, even communicating by means of the 1970s fad, citizens’ band radio, using the handle “First Momma.” After her husband lost the election by two percentage points to Jimmy Carter, the couple retired to Rancho Mirage, California, where the desert warmth eased the pain of her arthritis.

But her candor and public crusades were not over. Beginning in the 1960s , Betty had turned to drugs and alcohol to seek relief from pain and loneliness, and her dependency alarmed family members. In 1978, they staged an intervention, urging her to seek help, and she checked into the Long Beach Naval Hospital for treatment. In 1982, her battle against chemical dependence inspired her to found the Betty Ford Center, which remains one of her lasting legacies, where 90,000 patients have sought aid in ridding themselves of drug and alcohol addictions.

Like all married couples, the Fords had their idiosyncrasies and tripwires for irritation. Betty was chronically late for important appearances, which annoyed her husband. Once, when he had an evening political function scheduled for 7:30, he told her the event was at 6:30. The stratagem worked: Betty was ready at 6:55, and a relieved Ford said, “For once we’ll be on time.” On January 20, 1977, the Fords’ last morning at the White House, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were to arrive at exactly 10:30 for the traditional pre-inaugural coffee. Betty was running late, giving warm embraces and farewells to the White House staff. Ford boomed out, “Let’s go, Betty! You can’t be late this time!”

Through it all, Gerald and Betty remained a devoted couple, supporting each other steadfastly. In late 2006, as Ford’s health deteriorated, his study at their Rancho Mirage home became, in effect, a hospital room. Although bedridden and frail, he still brightened when Betty walked into the room.

Decades earlier, as newlyweds, Betty had given Ford a lighter inscribed, “To the light of my life.” To the end, the partnership between Betty and Gerald Ford remained the light of their lives. In the mid-1970s , by working together, they also made the White House a lighter, more cheerful place when Americans needed just that.


The History of First Ladies’ Memoirs

The release this week of Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, in which the former First Lady shares her personal stories, including some from her time in the White House, continues a decades-long tradition. Beginning with Betty Ford in 1978, the six First Ladies who preceded Obama each published their own unique versions of an autobiography sometime during their first few years out of office.

These offerings grant American citizens unrivaled access to the human lives inside the country’s highest office, often in ways more genuine and compelling than other histories or biographies on their husbands. What unites the books are that these impressive women unveil personal challenges and political motivations, all while writing American history from inside the White House.

“When First Ladies are liberated from their public role and can operate much more as a private citizen, they simply have more scope for what they talk about and how they can behave,” says Lisa Kathleen Graddy, a curator of political history at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “They’re not representing, at all times, the United States of America.”

Nellie Taft, the smoking, prohibition-hating, car driving and suffragist-supporting wife of President William Howard Taft was the first First Lady to publish a memoir during her lifetime. Di dalam Recollections of Full Years, Taft shared her pride at becoming the first First Lady to ride alongside her husband down Pennsylvania Avenue on the day of his inauguration. She wrote, “perhaps I had a little secret elation in thinking I was doing something which no woman had ever done before.” In total, 11 of America’s 42 official First Ladies, not including those whose personal correspondence was published following their deaths, have authored personal memoirs during their lifetime, often outselling their husbands.

“First ladies still tend to be more mysterious than the presidents,” Graddy says. “We’re always hoping once the First Lady is out of office she’s going to let us in a little more.”

Here’s a taste of the most fascinating and honest stories from these memoirs:

United States First Lady Michelle Obama with former First Ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush, and Rosalynn Carter. (White House/Lawrence Jackson)

Becoming

As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—Michelle Obama helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history.

Michelle Obama’s Word for Women on Fertility

Di dalam Becoming, Michelle for the first time shares the difficulty she and President Obama faced conceiving their two daughters, Malia and Sasha. Michelle writes candidly about the failure she felt following a miscarriage and her discomfort with self-administering IVF shots while Barack was off at work as a state legislator. As Michelle told ABC’s Robin Roberts, “I think it's the worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work, and how they don’t work.”

Spoken from the Heart

In this brave, beautiful, and deeply personal memoir, Laura Bush, one of our most beloved and private first ladies, tells her own extraordinary story.

Laura Bush’s Car Accident Confession

The 2010 autobiography Spoken From the Heart by Laura Bush revealed more detail about her involvement in a tragic car accident. On November 6, 1963, two days after her 17th birthday, Bush and her friend Judy made plans to head over to the local drive-in theater. Bush, driving her father’s Chevy Impala, became distracted as she spoke with her friend. She drove through an unnoticed stop sign and crashed into the less sturdy car of classmate and close friend, Mike Douglas. He was killed, and for years Laura Bush was wracked with guilt. In the memoir, Bush writes about how that tragedy uprooted her life-long faith, something that took years to gain back.

Living History

Hillary Rodham Clinton is known to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Yet few beyond her close friends and family have ever heard her account of her extraordinary journey.

Hillary Clinton and Chinese Censorship

“If there be one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all,” Hillary Clinton told an appreciative crowd at the September 1995 Fourth Women’s Conference in Beijing. Throughout that same speech, Clinton threw jab after jab at the Chinese government for their policies that discriminated against women and girls. The Chinese government blocked the broadcast.

To date, Clinton has written three memoirs. Her first, Living History, published in 2003, caused mass uproar in China. In the officially licensed Chinese edition of Living History, nearly all of Clinton’s disapproving references to the country were cut or otherwise cleansed of any biting criticism. Clinton’s 2014 memoir Hard Choices on her time as Secretary of State includes similarly negative opinions of China. As Hillary’s U.S. publisher put it Hard Choices is “effectively banned” by the People’s Republic.

Barbara Bush: A Memoir

Former First Lady Barbara Bush recounts the exciting and often poignant events in her life, from her secret engagement to George Bush, to the loss of her three-year-old daughter to leukemia, to daily life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Barbara Bush on her Mental Health and Abortion Policy

In her eponymous memoir, Barbara Bush wrote candidly about her battle with mental health and personal political opinions. She shared that her bouts with depression in the 1970s would push her to park on the highway’s shoulder, terrified she would purposefully put herself in harm’s way. At the time, she sought no medication and no help, beside from her husband, President George H.W. Semak-semak. Barbara wrote “I almost wonder why he didn’t leave me.”

In a noticeable departure from her husband’s abortion policies, Barbara wrote “let me say again. I hate abortions, but just could not make that choice for anybody else.”

“First ladies tend to stay in line with the administration, they bolster the administration,” Graddy says. “Everyone is always wondering if that’s what they’re really thinking. So, when you get a glimpse at something that says that it wasn’t, it’s interesting.”

First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Nancy Reagan, Pat Nixon, Barbara Bush, Rosalynn Carter and Betty Ford (©Diana Walker/gift of Diana Walker, NMAH)

My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan discusses her life, the Reagan administration, her shaky relationship with her children and key White House personnel, her husband’s involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, and her bout with cancer.

Nancy Reagan’s Vindication

Sally Quinn of the Washington Post wrote in 1989 that, “First Lady books should be primarily anthropological. They don't need to be literary, historical or political, although that would be fine too. What they should tell you is what it's like to live in the White House, what it's like to be First Lady. If that is the case then Nancy Reagan has failed: My Turn tells you what it's like to be Nancy Reagan.”

And, being Nancy Reagan was not always, or even often, pretty.

My Turn, Reagan’s 1989 memoir, was met with little to no fanfare. Nearly every reviewer was turned off by the unapologetic anger and frustration Reagan openly vented. Chief amongst Nancy’s targets was Donald T. Regan, her husband’s Treasury Secretary. One critic went so far as to say My Turn is, “in fact, a book with nothing to commend it.” In addition to going after critics, in the book Reagan defended her fondness for astrology and addressed the assassination attempt against her husband. She wrote that while the near fatal gun-shot wound had no effect on Mr. Reagan’s gun policy it left her “not sure” she agreed with him.

First Lady from Plains

"What ought to be a continuing legacy is Rosalynn's Carter's success in breaking new ground as a First Lady, without uprooting the traditions of the past." --Minneapolis Tribune

Rosalynn Carter’s Unapologetic Influence

As First Lady, Rosalynn Carter viewed herself as a political partner and equal to her husband, President Jimmy Carter. She took more than 200 pages of personal notes at the Camp David summit, which brokered a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel and garnered the President the Nobel Peace Prize. In her 1984 memoir, First Lady from Plains, Rosalynn explains how history would have been different had Jimmy only listened to her advice and reconsidered the 1980 grain embargo against the U.S.S.R, a policy that devastated American agriculturalists and likely contributed to Carter’s failed second-term bid. The American public and press had been critical of Rosalynn’s direct influence on her husband’s policy, yet in her memoir Rosalynn gave no indication that she cared.

Betty Ford the Times of My Life

"The Times of My Life" is Betty Ford's memoir of life, with all its successes and failures, joys and heartaches.

Betty Ford on Addiction

During her tenure as First Lady, Betty Ford was known to be unapologetic. In 1975, during an interview with CBS’s Morley Safer, Ford spoke openly about her pro-choice political stance, her time seeing a psychiatrist and whether she would or would not try marijuana. Protestors took to the streets, calling her “No Lady.” Yet, soon public opinion flipped as Americans began praising her breath-of-fresh-air honesty, particular in regards to the mastectomy she underwent a year prior. Betty’s memoir The Times of My Life was as telling, raw and engaging as expected.

“When she was out of office, Ford was very forthcoming about her battle with prescription drugs,” Graddy says. Di dalam The Times of My Life, Mrs. Ford details the intervention her family held in 1978 to help curb her dependence on pills and alcohol.

“Not being in that public eye in the same way anymore, not being official,”Graddy says, “gave her a freedom to talk about things like that.” The Times of My Life was meet with esteem. Betty followed it up with two more memoirs.

Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary (Autographed Copy)

"A White House Diary" is Lady Bird Johnson's intimate, behind-the-scenes account of Lyndon Johnson's presidency from November 22, 1963, to January 20, 1969.

Lady Bird Johnson and JFK’s Assassination

“It all began so beautifully,” reads Lady Bird Johnson’s diary entry from the November 22, 1963, the day of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The words open her memoir, A White House Diary, and before you could turn the first page, the shots ring out. “I cast one last look over my shoulder and saw in the President’s car a bundle of pink, just like a drift of blossoms, lying on the back seat. It was Mrs. Kennedy lying over the President’s body,” she wrote. Just a few hours later, she would become the First Lady.

In the same entry, Johnson recalls Jackie Kennedy’s famous words, “I want them to see what they have done to Jack.” In later entries, she takes the reader inside the silent limousine ride to President Kennedy’s funeral, where she and now-President Lyndon Johnson sat beside Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy and her children. Mrs. Johnson wrote, “the feeling persisted that I was moving, step by step, through a Greek tragedy.”

Jackie Kennedy never authored a memoir, neither did Lyndon B. Johnson or Bobby Kennedy, Lady Bird’s diaries of the assassination’s aftermath offered reader’s the earliest and most riveting retelling published in print.

About Bianca Sánchez

Bianca Sánchez is an editorial intern at Smithsonian magazine, as well as a senior at Northwestern University, where she studies Journalism, Latino and Latina studies and Political Science.


Betty Ford

Many of Betty Ford’s Grand Rapids friends-men and women in the generation who lived through the depression years as children and young teenagers and later were involved in World War II- think of her fondly as an attractive and vital woman, and they recall her early years in Grand Rapids with her many friends and activities.

She attended Central High School, one of those excellent Midwestern high schools with the kind of demanding faculty one remembers for a lifetime. As her autobiography, The Times of My Life, points out, she enjoyed learning and those high school years were happy ones.

At the time of life when many young people are still wondering which path to take, Betty Ford knew exactly what she wanted to do: her goal was to become a professional dancer. Later she studied with Martha Graham in New York and became a member of the Martha Graham dance troupe. On the home front she occasionally assisted a dynamic dancing teacher, Calla Travis, who instructed young women and men in what was then called “social dancing”. As Calla Travis’s pupils stumbled self-consciously through the approved dance steps, the waltz and the fox trot, little did they dream that the young woman who demonstrated the dance steps so gracefully was to become the First Lady of the 38th President of the United States and was to be recognized by the whole world for her own accomplishments.

In more recent years, widely known for her broad civic interests, Betty Ford was honored by the Michigan Hall of Fame in 1987 with the following commendation:

As the wife of Michigan Congressman (later Minority Leader, Vice-President and President) Gerald Ford, Betty Ford’s life has been constantly mirrored in the national press. Under the circumstances, she might have confined herself to a social-cultural leadership role (a role for which she was especially qualified as a former member of the Martha Graham dance troupe), but she opted instead to devote herself to public causes such as the Equal Rights Amendment, which she strongly supported. In addition, Betty Ford has been very much involved with the American Cancer Society, the Arthritis Foundation and national programs for mental health and underprivileged children,

Betty Ford has become best known, perhaps, for her courage and candor in coping with personal crisis. When stricken with breast cancer, she faced the situation openly, and in so doing she gave courage to others. Her public acknowledgment of cancer not only called attention to the dangers of the disease for women, but also to its means of detection and treatment.

It is for her personal snuggle with alcohol and drug abuse that Betty Ford has become most widely known and appreciated in later years. She overcame a serious problem of dependency through an exercise of will and courage. The overcoming of her personal problem was not alone sufficient for her, however. As with her cancer, Betty Ford sought ways in which to share her experience with others in a very public and beneficial way. Not only has she devoted her life over the past nine years to the helping of others with drug dependency problems, the funds she has raised through her speaking engagements and ocher public appearances have served to build the Betty Ford Center for Drug Rehabilitation at the Eisenhower Medical Center in California (dedicated October 3, 1982). As President of the Betty Ford Center, she has become a lay expert on the problems of drug abuse and has provided courage, understanding and treatment for countless thousands of individuals who have taken the personal example to heart. And, for this the California Medical Society and numerous other organizations have given her personal citations.


Advocate for Women's Health

A month after moving into the White House, Betty Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. She became an advocate for breast cancer research and early detection.

Asked about her illness, she said, "I'm very glad that I brought cancer to the forefront."

She was also outspoken on women's rights issues. She supported the equal rights amendment and the legalization of abortion.

She became famous for her candor. In an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes," she talked about marijuana, equal rights for women, abortion and the possibility of a premarital affair for her daughter, Susan.

Went Public With Addiction Battle

After leaving the White House, Betty Ford publicly acknowledged her addiction to alcohol and painkillers.

"This is not a lack of willpower, this is a disease," she said at the time.

In 1982, she co-founded the Betty Ford Center in California. Her candor in talking about and dealing with substance abuse and treatment helped led to an improvement in how Americans talk about such matters.

Helping others overcome addiction became her chief cause.

"I'm not out to rescue anybody who doesn't want to be rescued," she once said. "I just think it's important to say how easy it is to slip into a dependency on pills or alcohol, and how hard it is to admit that dependency."

By not being the "political wife" of self-sacrificing legend, she both reflected and advanced public views about women in politics.

"In the end, simply by being herself, she made it easier for millions of American women to be themselves," Smith told ABC News.

ABC News' David Reiter and Michael S. James contributed to this report.


Why This Model Left the Glitzy World of Fashion for the Gritty Life of Bullfighting

There are many kinds of multihyphenates in Hollywood: actress-singer, director-producer. In the 1950s Bette Ford turned heads and raised eyebrows when she became a model-actress-bullfighter.

Bette Ford came to New York City from a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA, with big dreams: The 18-year-old was going to be a model.

Considered too petite for the runway, the 5-foot-4 beauty was quickly turned down by two leading agencies of her day. But a third major agency, Huntington Hartford, took a chance on her, and soon she was landing jobs by capitalizing on her slender yet athletic build and sensual aura. She modeled for Maidenform, sat for magazine illustrators, even snagged a few covers, but her greatest success was with Jantzen as a swimsuit model. Her narrow hips and powerful shoulders made her convincing as a stylish swimmer, despite not knowing how.

Then an assignment came along that changed Ford's life: a photo shoot in Bogotá, Colombia&mdashher first trip abroad. She was so sheltered and unwordly that when she checked in at the hotel, she asked whether her room had been made safe from boa constrictors. Roy Pinney, the photographer for the shoot, who NS worldly, learned that the renowned matador Luis Miguel Dominguín would be fighting in Bogotá during the shoot. He arranged for Ford to meet Dominguín at his hotel room.

In the early 1950s, bullfighting was the epitome of glamour, danger, and masculine bravado. Hollywood A-listers followed the bulls in Spain and fraternized with matadors like Dominguín, an international celebrity in his own right. He even stole Ava Gardner from Frank Sinatra for a bit&mdashthe two had an affair while the actress was married to the crooner. (Perhaps it was role prep: Gardner later would star in The Sun Also Rises as the seductress of the story's fictional bullfighter, Pedro Romero.)

Smitten with Dominguín, Ford returned to New York, papered her walls with bullfight posters, and began daydreaming of Mexico. She landed the role of understudy in the Broadway drama The Time of the Cuckoo, but told MarieClaire.com she "wasn't prepared metaphysically" to settle for understudy. Instead, she and her extra-marital boyfriend at the time, Lewis Allen, drove south to follow the bulls.

In a small arena outside Mexico City, Ford encountered some novilleros (fighters who only battle young bulls) who invited her, half in jest, to train with them. Soon she was spending her mornings at a practice ring, learning the rudiments of cape work as a way of keeping fit.

Ultimately, she was "discovered" by chance: a newspaper sent a reporter and photographer for a column on a promising novice at the ring. Ford caught their eye, and the piece instead became a two-page spread on her. The article captured the attention of Dr. Alfonso Gaona, organizer of the Plaza Mexico, the largest bullfight arena in the world. The next week, Gaona approached Ford and said, "So you're the girl who wants to become a bullfighter?"

Gaona, recognizing Ford's potential as an alluring alternative to the straightforward nature of the handful of other American toreras fighting at the time, brought the empresario of the bullring in Juarez, Juan de Bilbao&mdasha.k.a Don Juan&mdashto manage Ford.

From the beginning, the climate was intensely competitive. Ford was immediately compared to prominent, more experienced female bullfighters, like the American Patricia McCormick, whom the press described as having a "deathly presence" in the ring. McCormick dressed for fights in black or tan suits, her hair in a knot beneath her wide-brimmed black hat. Over her pants she wore plain leather chaps. Juanita Aparicio, whom Ford had encountered on that first trip to Mexico, wore chaps as well.

In contrast, Ford dazzled in white. Her first trajes&mdashthe suits that she fought in&mdashwere tailored from fine white wool to emphasize her lithe physique. Setting off her dark black hair were a pair of diamond earrings. And she kept her hair loose and tousled, a stunning touch when she doffed her hat and bowed for the audience.

Fighting mainly along the border, in Mexican arenas across the Rio Grande from small Texas towns, Ford gained a reputation for flair and determination. Soon she became a reliable draw, with a following from as far away as Houston and San Antonio. While the other American toreras barely eked out a living, at times sleeping in their cars, Ford earned enough to stay at the same hotels as full-fledged matadors. At first, Don Juan drove her to fights later, Ford flew in a private plane.

Don Juan promoted her relentlessly, leading the press to cover her every move, such as when she'd cross the border for a makeover at a local salon (both as a model and a bullfighter she occasionally went platinum blonde). Her popularity wasn't always a positive. In the border bullrings the Texas fans were rowdy and not necessarily supportive. They came to see the "Broadway TV star and model turned bullfighter" or "petite Broadway brunette who looks like Elizabeth Taylor." If a bull knocked her down, the fans cheered, yelling "Kill her, bull! Kill her!"

"They want blood, your blood&mdashwhy else would they come to a bullfight?" says Ford today. "I knew that no one would run in and save me."

Ford's relationship with Don Juan was complex and stormy. In his role as manager, he oversaw her rigorous training regimen, putting her on a boxer's diet that included drinking the blood-rich juices from expensive cuts of beef. He called her each night at 9 p.m. to confirm that she was home and preparing for bed, and he cautioned her against sex in the days leading up to a fight. ("It weakens the leg muscles" Ford remembers him saying). After fights, he massaged the deep bruises left by bulls' horns.

They argued often&mdashabout bullfighting, training, her technique, publicity. Ford once slammed a hotel door so hard that it split down the middle, a spillover from her constantly curated aggression in the ring.

"I was angry with the world," says Ford of her rigorous training coupled with the growing animosity in the stands. "I was a fighter. I literally was a killer. I perceived myself as dangerous. "

The tempestuousness of the relationship culminated one Sunday afternoon during a Juarez booking, when Ford argued with Don Juan about a risky maneuver that he wanted her to try. Ford was sipping from a glass of water as the two exchanged words, and when the argument escalated, Ford dashed the water into Don Juan's face&mdashin full view of the crowd. The hometown audience was outraged, and clubs along the border circulated a petition denouncing Ford and calling for her to be suspended.

When Ford returned to Juarez a month later, she was awakened on the morning of her fight by sirens. The arena had been set on fire, evidently the work of arsonists protesting her return. But the fight went on, a burned section of bleachers still smoldering throughout the afternoon.

The ultimate dream of the American toreras, and of all Mexican bullfighters, was to fight in the Plaza Mexico. Patricia McCormick had been fighting longer than any of the women, and though she was widely lauded for her bravery and skill, even she had yet to land a booking in the Plaza.

Ford and McCormick were seen as rivals, and by early in 1955, Ford's second year fighting, the press floated tantalizing rumors of their appearing together in the capitol: "A program with these two toreras in competition would fill the Plaza Mexico." The Plaza held nearly 50,000 spectators most of the arenas along the border were less than a 10th of its size.

In May of that year, Ford was training for the big showdown when she was thrown by a bull. She fractured several of her ribs and bruised her spine badly.

Injuries of this severity were common. In one fight, Pat Hayes, another American torera, suffered a concussion and three broken ribs. Patricia McCormick once almost died in a particularly gruesome incident. She turned her back on a bull who charged, impaling her. Hoisted into the air and unable to free herself, she was rescued by her manager who raced out into the ring and pried her off the horn.

Ford recovered and was well enough to fight again that summer in Juarez, billed as "The Incomparable Beauty of the Bullring." Late in July, a surprising decision was announced: the debuting American at the Plaza Mexico would be Ford alone. But the notion of a woman fighting in the venerable Plaza&mdashan Amerika woman&mdashwas met with resistance by the elite Mexican bullfight critics. In their opinion an American had no business competing in the Plaza, no matter her prowess.

Their antagonism didn't stop her. Ford made her historic debut on August 21. She fought well and was awarded an ear from each of her bulls. She went on to fight at the Plaza Mexico four more times that fall, once against Aparicio&mdashFord in her white suit, Aparicio in chaps. Aparicio was the hometown favorite, Ford the stylish outsider. The critics grudgingly praised Ford for her elegance and courage&mdashand for her skill with the sword.

Ford's fights in the Plaza created a backlash from the matadors and matadors' union, effectively banning women fighters. Ford never fought at the Plaza Mexico again. And none of the other American women fighting at the time ever got their chance there either.

The bookings kept coming, though.

Don Juan finally arranged the long-anticipated showdown between Ford and McCormick in Tijuana. But while watching from the stands, he suffered a heart attack. His doctors sent him to Acapulco to recuperate. A year later he died unexpectedly. Ford was devastated.

More hardship would come. Ford was gored badly for the first time in her career. Her hand was ripped open by a bull's horn and she recalls waiting on the operating table, seeing "little white strands twitching inside my hand." The nurse told her they were her tendons, slipping in and out of her flesh because they had been severed by the horn. She lost the full range of motion in three of her fingers permanently.

After the goring, she became romantically involved with, and then was stalked by, the son of the doctor who operated on her hand. Ford no longer had Don Juan to protect her against such threats. She hired a friend as pistolero and lent him the use of a gun she'd inherited from Don Juan.

By 1958, Ford's busy calendar had begun to take a physical toll. She'd been training six hours a day for half a decade&mdashand fighting as often as she could get bookings. Between the physical strain and the struggles in her personal life (she was divorcing), she decided it was time to return to New York and make another go at stage acting. Then Hollywood intervened.

MGM was considering doing a biopic about her career and brought her to Los Angeles to meet with writers. One of them was John Meston, who'd co-created the radio series Gunsmoke, soon to become the long-running television series. Meston and Ford carried on a whirlwind romance and were married in Las Vegas after Ford agreed to Meston's stipulation that she cease risking her life in arenas. It was an easy promise to make&mdashshe was finished with bullfighting anyway.

Eventually Ford reinvented herself again, this time as a film and television actress, and made regular appearances, usually as a dark-haired temptress, on network dramas such as L.A. Law dan Bersulang. Her most recent feature film was the indie comedy Valley of the Sun (2011). She continues to act, mostly doing voiceover for animation.

When Ford reflects about her bullfight career now, she emphasizes her sense of accomplishment above all else. "I look back now and I think, I did itu. But I never thought about grace and elegance and beauty when I was in the ring. I thought like a bullfighter."

Fortunato Salazar is a Los Angeles-based writer whose most recent writing about bullfighters appears in Amtrak's Nasional.

Motion Graphics: Crystal Law

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