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Nancy Reagan's acting career in fabulous photos

Top image: The Everett Collection

Born Anne Francis Robbins, Nancy would move to Chicago as a child when her mother remarried a surgeon named Davis. Her mother was a radio actress and her godmother a star of the silent screen, Alla Nazimova. No surprise then that young Nancy would give up her job at Marshall Field's to be a thespian. Nancy had studied drama at Smith College, where in 1943 she performed in a school Follies title Make with the Maximum.

After moving to New York, Nancy Davis landed a role on Broadway opposite Yul Brynner in Lute Song. In 1949, she signed a seven-year contract with MGM and headed to Hollywood. The actress started her screen career with small parts, notably alongside Barbara Stanwyck and Ava Gardner in East Side, West Side. Davis moved up to a prominent role in the film noir flick Shadow on the Wall. In 1950, her acting career took off as she played the wife of James Whitmore in The Next Voice You Hear..., a quirky movie about a woman who hears God on the radio. 

As we all know, in 1952 Davis would marry fellow actor Ronald Reagan, and the two would share the screen in her penultimate film, 1957's Hellcats of the Navy. She book gigs on television, making her final acting appearance on an episode of Wagon Train in 1962. (Though she would continue to appear as herself, as on a memorable episode of Diff'rent Strokes.)

As the nation mourns the loss of a beloved First Lady, we wanted to take time to remember Nancy Reagan's career as an actress, as Nancy Davis. Let's look back at her entertainment work in pictures.

Nancy Davis in Make with the Maximum at Smith College, 1943

The Everett Collection


Riding with James Whitmore in The Next Voice You Hear…, 1950

The Everett Collection


Nancy modeling a lavendar nylon gown with rhinestone-spangled flowers, 1950

The Everett Collection


With Ralph Meeker in Shadow in the Sky, 1952

The Everett Collection


Nancy in the early 1950s

The Everett Collection


Opposite Lew Ayres in Donovan's Brain, 1953

The Everett Collection


Nancy sports a sweater in the early 1950s

The Everett Collection


Nancy appeared in two episodes of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, including "The Pearl Street Incident" in 1954.

The Everett Collection


Nancy modeling a swimsuit in the 1950s

The Everett Collection


Nancy and Ronald Reagan in Hellcats of the Navy, 1957

All images copyright The Everett Collection


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