Former First Lady Nancy Reagan has passed away at the age of 94 of congestive heart failure. She and Ronald Reagan had two children together, Patricia Ann Reagan (Patti Davis) and Ronald Prescott Reagan (Ron Reagan Jr.) She was also stepmom to two children from Ronald Reagan’s first marriage Jane Wyman: Maureen Reagan and Michael Reagan. Maureen, passed away in 2001. Ron and Patti were at Nancy’s funeral, but Michael couldn’t make it because he was on the other side of the world for business. (See more photos of her children here.)
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Nancy and Ronald Reagan Were Very Close, But Nancy Was Briefly Estranged From Each of Her Children
Nancy and Ronald Reagan were very close. In fact, when Ronald Reagan died in 2004, Charlton Heston said they had “the greatest love affair in the history of the American Presidency.” But despite their close relationship, Nancy wasn’t always very close with her children and had periods of estrangement with all of them. Patti Davis was estranged from her parents for nearly 20 years. For awhile, Nancy and Michael’s disagreements were so heated that she didn’t meet his daughter, Ashley, for nearly a year after she was born. Nancy was closest to her stepdaughter, Maureen.
Nancy lamented about not being a better mom. In Nancy’s 1989 memoir, My Turn, she admitted that she wasn’t as close to her children as she wished. She said:
Apparently, all of them (the children) have felt at one time or another that Ronnie and I were so devoted to each other that there wasn’t room for them in our affections, and that they were sometimes left out.”
But before Nancy passed away, she was reconciled with everyone. The children all rallied around their parents after Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. They were right by her side during Ronald Reagan’s funeral and have been by her side ever since.
2. Patti Davis Is a Prolific Author and Actress Who Once Posed for Playboy
Patti Davis, the Reagans’ oldest child, was born on October 21, 1952 in Los Angeles. She caused a lot of strife in her family by being heavily involved in anti-nuclear political activism while her dad was president. She also struggled with drug addiction from the age of 15 into her late 20s. (See photos of Patti here.)
She acted in a few TV shows and got her first publishing deal in 1986 by writing a fiction book based on elements from her own life. She later wrote an autobiography, The Way I See It, where she shared family drama and secrets. Later, she said that she had regrets over writing that book. In 2004, she published The Long Goodbye, a book about her father’s fight with Alzheimer’s.
In July 1994, Davis posed for Playboy and was on the cover of the magazine. Her cover is considered one of Playboy’s most controversial covers. In 2011, she posed nude again, but this time for the magazine More at the age of 58.
She told Daily Mail that she considered her Playboy photoshoot her “victory lap” after overcoming drug addiction and it had nothing to do with spiting her parents. When she did the photoshoot with More, she said the only plastic surgery she had done was a facelift at 50. As far as the photoshoot, she was most upset about her elbows, she said. “I’m quite upset with my elbows. If you took a close-up photo of them, you’d think, ‘Wow, very old person.'”
3. Ron Reagan Is an Atheist With Very Liberal Political Views
Ronald Prescott Reagan (Ron Reagan), was born on May 20, 1958. He has been very active in liberal politics nearly his entire adult life. At the age of 12, Ron became an atheist and announced to his parents that he would no longer be attending church. He dropped out of Yale after one semester to become a ballet dancer. After his father left the White House, Ron became more active in liberal politics. Ron was always careful to point out that he and his dad weren’t on bad terms because of their political differences. He created some turmoil in the family when he speculated in a memoir that his dad might have started suffering Alzheimer’s symptoms while he was president.
Ron has mentioned that his mother suffered a lot of anxiety after the assassination attempt on President Reagan, New York Daily News reported: “I don’t think that she ever had another day during his presidency where there wasn’t some fear involved. I don’t think she was ever without some anxiety and fear from then on.”
But she stayed strong, even in the midst of her fears.
For reasons not known, Ron Reagan did not show up for a prayer service on Wednesday, just before Nancy Reagan’s lying in repose ceremony. Patti Davis, who was there, said she felt a little bit alone walking behind her mom’s casket by herself. But they both shared eulogies at Nancy Reagan’s funeral. Ron spoke highly of his mom during the funeral, saying that his dad might not ever have become President if it wasn’t because of her. They were co-equals in their relationship, he said, and they complemented each other perfectly.
4. Maureen Reagan Passed Away in 2001 And Was Once in the Hospital At the Same Time As Her Dad
Nancy was also stepmom to Maureen Reagan, who was born in 1941 to Ronald and his first wife, Jane Wyman. Nancy was closest to Maureen out of all her children and stepchildren. Maureen pursued an acting career and even appeared in the 1964 film Kissin’ Cousins with Elvis Presley. She was active in Republican politics and ran for Senate in 1982, but was defeated. Maureen passed away in 2001 from melanoma. This was an incredibly hard time for Nancy, as her husband was dealing with Alzheimer’s and only a few years away from his own death. At one point, Maureen and Ronald Reagan were even in the hospital at the same time. Maureen has one adopted daughter, Margaret Rita Merembe Revell, with husband Dennis Revell.
5. Michael Reagan Is an Outspoken Republican Strategist Who Tries to Follow in His Dad’s Footsteps
Michael Edward Reagan was Nancy’s stepson from Ronald Reagan’s first marriage to Jane Wyman. Michael, born in 1945, was adopted by Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman, but he was also very close to Nancy. After she passed away, he posted on Twitter:
Michael didn’t graduate from college, but has had a prolific career as an author and a political commentator. He hosted a couple radio shows and then focused on public speaking. In 2005 he wrote a book called Twice Adopted, in which he talked about his feelings of rejection from adoption and his parents’ divorce and how he later became a born-again Christian. In the 1980s, he wrote a very controversial book about the Reagans called On the Outside Looking In. He talked about often being left out when Nancy and Ronald took their children to church or even when Nancy took Ron and Patti to see their dad after he was shot and in the hospital. At the time, he said he felt that Nancy was very insecure, The Chicago Tribune reported in 1988. But Michael got over these feelings and he and Nancy eventually became very close.
Michael has two children, Cameron and Ashley, with his wife Colleen Sterns. Michael’s son, Cameron, dealt with a few legal issues when he was younger, but straightened out his life later, Daily Breeze reported. His daughter, Ashley, is a kindergarten teacher and a huge fan of her family’s history.
Michael and his wife, Colleen, weren’t able to attend Nancy’s funeral because they were away on business in Asia when she died. But he said that his children, Cameron and Ashley, were attending in their place.
Michael and his brother, Ron, have been outspoken against each other’s political views, since Michael is a staunch conservative and Ron is an avowed liberal. Michael recently said that his father would be absolutely appalled if Donald Trump were the GOP nominee, Newsmax reported.