Monday, July 11, 2011


In memory of a First Lady who may have done more for the country than her husband the President did.....


"The Betty Ford Story"

Gena Rowlands
From The New York Times:
Betty Ford, the outspoken and much-admired wife of President Gerald R. Ford who overcame alcoholism and an addiction to pills and helped found one of the best-known rehabilitation centers in the nation, died Friday in Palm Springs, Calif. She was 93.

Few first ladies have been as popular as Betty Ford, and it was her frankness and lack of pretense that made her so. Unlike many other wives of presidents, Mrs. Ford rarely hesitated to make public her views on touchy subjects. She spoke often in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, endorsed legalized abortion, discussed premarital sex and revealed that she intended to share a bed with her husband in the White House.

On Sept. 28, 1974, Mrs. Ford had a radical mastectomy after doctors discovered cancer in her right breast. Within days, 10,000 letters, more than 500 telephone calls, more than 200 telegrams and scores of floral arrangements poured into the White House and into her suite at Bethesda Naval Hospital. In the months that followed, tens of thousands of American women, inspired by Mrs. Ford’s forthrightness and courage in facing her illness, crowded into doctors’ offices and clinics for breast-cancer examinations.

Breast cancer was only one of the medical battles Mrs. Ford won. Her dependency on pills began in 1964 with a medical prescription to relieve constant pain from a neck injury and a pinched nerve. Her drinking, which became troublesome as she was faced with her husband’s frequent absences on political business, grew increasingly serious as Mr. Ford’s Congressional career advanced.

In 1978, the year after leaving the White House, her husband, children, doctors and several friends confronted her about her drinking and her abuse of pills. She refused to acknowledge that a problem existed, calling her family “a bunch of monsters,” but she eventually entered the Long Beach Naval Hospital in California for treatment.

The Betty Ford Center, dedicated on Oct. 3, 1982, was a direct result of Mrs. Ford’s victory over her alcoholism and addiction. Set on 14 acres on the campus of the Eisenhower Medical Center 11 miles southeast of Palm Springs, the center was a nonprofit venture spearheaded by Mrs. Ford and Leonard K. Firestone, an industrialist and former ambassador to Belgium who raised a major part of the money.

“It’s hard to make anyone understand what it’s like to have your name on something, to be given credit for things you haven’t done,” Mrs. Ford wrote. “I’ve been at meetings where someone turned and thanked me, and I hugged the person and said, ‘Don’t thank me, thank yourself, you’re the one who did it, with God’s help.’ From the beginning, we have wanted every patient at the center to feel, ‘I’m important here, I have some dignity.’ ”
- Enid Nemy
Betty Ford is one of the few people of the real world, like Orson Welles and Johnny Carson, who have not only been portrayed by a televersion, but have also appeared as a member of the League of Themselves in fictionalized settings. She made a phone call to Mary Richards when "Mayr" visited Washington with Lou Grant in an episode of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'. (When Mrs. Ford identified herself as Betty Ford, Mary gave her name as Mary... Queen of Scots.)
Here's a behind-the-scenes publicity photo of Mrs. Ford filming her cameo for 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'. She and Ms. Moore didn't share the scene except by phone call, so "Mayr" might have been there to help feed her the lines to set up her dialogue.

President and Mrs. Ford, along with Henry Kissinger, attended the Carousel Ball in Denver years later, where they met members of the oil-rich Carrington Family of 'Dynasty'.
She was inducted into the TV Crossover Hall Of Fame, along with her late husband President Gerald Ford, in November, 2007.
Good night, and may God Bless.


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