Betty Ford

From Academic Kids

White House portrait
White House portrait

Elizabeth Ann Bloomer Ford (born April 8, 1918), usually called Betty, a First Lady of the United States, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of William Stephenson Bloomer, an industrial supply salesman, and his wife Hortense Neahr.


Early life

She grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan from age three. She studied dance at the Calla Travis Dance Studio and attended the Benningtoon Vermon School of Dance. She studied dance under Martha Graham, and worked as a Powers model in New York.

Her mother urged her to return from New York to Grand Rapids; she did so in 1941, becoming fashion coordinator for Herpolscheimer's department store.


In 1942 she married her first husband, William G. Warren, a furniture salesman. They divorced in 1947.

On October 15, 1948 she married Gerald Ford at Grace Episcopal Church, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was then in his first Congressional election campaign, and would eventually become the 40th Vice President of the United States and the 38th President of the United States.

First Lady

Gerald Ford became President in 1974 on the forced resignation of President Richard Nixon, who had named Gerald Ford to the Vice Presidency in 1973.

Vice President  is sworn in as the 38th President of the United States by Chief Justice  as Mrs. Ford looks on.
Vice President Gerald Ford is sworn in as the 38th President of the United States by Chief Justice Warren Burger as Mrs. Ford looks on.

Shortly after Betty Ford became First Lady she underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer: she became a spokeswoman about the importance of early detection. In 1978 her family forced her to confront her own alcoholism and addiction to analgesic drugs and seek treatment. After her recovery, she established the Betty Ford Center for the treatment of chemical dependency.

Betty Ford was also an outspoken advocate of women's rights. She supported the Equal Rights Amendment and legalized abortion. For a time, it was unclear whether Gerald Ford shared his wife's pro-choice viewpoint. However, he told interviewer Larry King that he, too, was pro-choice, and had been criticized by conservative forces within the Republican Party.

In 1987, Betty Ford was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.


The Fords have three sons and one daughter:

  • Michael Gerald Ford (b. 1950) - a minister
  • John Gardner Jack Ford (b. 1952) - a journalist and public relations consultant
  • Steven Meigs Ford (b. 1956) - an actor and rodeo rider
  • Susan Elizabeth (Ford) Vance Bales (b. 1957) - a photographer

Preceded by:
Pat Nixon
First Lady of the United States
Succeeded by:
Rosalynn Carter

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