Last week we wrote about Helen Hayes, who for much of her working life was known as the First Lady of the American Theater.
On Jan. 20, 1981, nearly 30 years after she married Ronald Reagan, the former Nancy Davis became — literally — America’s First Lady.
Lost in the mists of time is the fact that before she became Mrs. Reagan, Nancy Davis had a pretty respectable career in Hollywood films. Her working resume includes some 20 movie and tv credits over a roughly 35-year career.
One of her bigger features costarred her husband, and at least one was a very good film noir.
Born Anne Frances Robbins in New York City in 1921, her mother was a former vaudevillian and her father worked as a car salesman.
The family was reasonably affluent and socially prominent. (Davis’s godmother was silent movie star Alla Nazimova.) After their divorce, Nancy’s mother married Chicago-based neurosurgeon Dr. Loyal Davis, and Nancy took his name.
She attended exclusive schools including Chicago’s Latin School for Girls and Smith College in Northampton, Mass. Her earliest show biz exposure was in the chorus of the 1946 Broadway musical, Lute Song.
By 1949 she was playing a featured role in MGM romantic drama, The Doctor and the Girl, starring Glenn Ford. Her movie career was off and running. Ok, let’s see how much you know about Nancy Davis, movie actress. As usual questions today and answers tomorrow.
1) Question: As mentioned, Davis costarred with her husband of five years in which one of these films? 1) Night Into Morning; b) East Side, West Side; c) Hellcats of the Navy; or d) The Next Voice You Hear.
2) Question: Davis was considered a perfect choice to play the classy Karen Richards in 1950’s All About Eve. But she did not get the part. Who did? a) Ava Gardner; b) Ann Sothern; c) Celeste Holm; or d) Arline Francis.
3) Question: In the 1950 MGM film noir Shadow On The Wall, Davis is cast in a part that seems tailor made for her. What part does she play? a) A sympathetic school teacher; b) A play-by-the-rules psychiatrist; c) A nun; or d) A high class madame.
4) Question: In her 11 feature films, Davis was usually cast as: a) The faithful Spouse; b) The responsible parent; c) The high class sexpot; or d) None of the above.
5) Question: Nancy Davis was three months pregnant when she married Ronald Reagan on March 4, 1952. a) True; or b) False?