Monday, Sep. 07, 2009

Betty Ford

It's been said that Betty Ford's impact on American culture may be far wider and more lasting than that of her husband, President Gerald Ford. Nevertheless, the woman once dubbed the country's Fighting First Lady by this very publication did have some quirks. In addition to being open about the benefits of psychiatric treatment, she spoke with compassion about marijuana use and premarital sex. (The First Lady wasn't shy with her opinions on marital sex either, once saying that if she were to be asked how often she and the President had sex, her response would be, "as often as possible.") And along the closed corridors of the White House, she was known to do the Bump (a dance fad of the 1970s), wear a mood ring and chat away on her CB radio. Her handle? First Mama. There was a darker side to Ford, of course, which came to a head in 1978 when her family staged an intervention to make her confront her battle with alcoholism and dependence on pills. Four years later, after her recovery, Ford founded the California addiction-treatment center that continues to bear her name.