Despite the fact that Betty Ford had one of the shortest terms as First Lady, she was definitely one of the most influental women to have held the position: In the opinion of The New York Times and several presidential historians, “Mrs. Ford’s impact on American culture may be far wider and more lasting than that of her husband, who served a mere 896 days, much of it spent trying to restore the dignity of the office of the president.” A pioneering first lady whose public battles with cancer and addiction changed the lives of millions.
Her openness about breast cancer, the 60 Minutes interview, vocal support of the Equal Rights Amendment, and public disclosure of her substance abuse treatment showed the nation that she was honest, open and not afraid to speak her mind.
I do not believe that being First Lady should prevent me from expressing my views … Why should my husband’s job or yours prevent us from being ourselves? Being ladylike does not require silence. Betty Ford
For more information about Betty Ford, see
Betty Ford : The Real Deal, PBS, March 16, 2009.