Did Betty Ford Really Write a Letter to Michelle Obama? – ‘The First Lady‘ follows three American first women as they experience obstacles and triumphs during their time in the White House. The drama follows the lives of Michelle Obama (Viola Davis), Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson) as women manage the challenges of their respective times.
Despite being set in radically different decades, the obstacles experienced by all three first ladies are strikingly similar. In one of the show’s most moving scenes, a retired Betty Ford writes Michelle Obama a letter shortly after she becomes First Lady. Given that the show is heavily based on historical facts, let’s see if Betty Ford ever actually wrote Michelle Obama a letter.
Betty Ford’s Biography
From 1974 until 1977, Elizabeth Anne Ford (née Bloomer; formerly Warren; April 8, 1918 – July 8, 2011) served as President Gerald Ford’s wife’s first lady of the United States. Ford also served as the United States’ second lady from 1973 to 1974. As a first lady, she was interested in social policy and set the trend as a politically engaged presidential spouse.
She maintained strong approval ratings throughout her husband’s stint in office. Following her surgery in 1974, Ford became known for championing breast cancer awareness. She was also a staunch advocate of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). She acquired prominence as one of the frankest first ladies in history, commenting on every hot-button subject of the time, including feminism, equal pay, the Equal Rights Amendment, sex, drugs, abortion, and gun control, as a supporter of abortion rights and a pioneer in the women’s rights movement. She also increased awareness of addiction when, as the first first lady, she acknowledged her long-term battle with alcoholism and substance abuse in the 1970s.
She continued to advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment after leaving the White House and remained engaged in the feminist movement. She founded the Betty Ford Center for Substance Abuse and Addiction and served as the first chair of the board of directors. She received the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (as a co-recipient with President Ford in 1998). (presented to her by George H. W. Bush in 1991).
Did Betty Ford Actually Write a Letter to Michelle Obama?
Betty Ford did, in fact, write Michelle Obama a letter. In 2009, shortly after Barack Obama’s inauguration, the former, then in her 90s, wrote the latter a letter. As a result, shortly after moving into the White House, Michelle Obama received a letter from Betty Ford. Although the letter is regarded as “warm,” its contents are unknown.
It appears to be a private letter from an experienced first lady to a new first lady. On a related topic, Ford is claimed to have told her daughter, Susan, “I don’t know whether she realizes what she’s gotten herself into.” She’s going to be quite busy.”
Michelle receives the letter from Betty during a very trying period for the Obama administration, as depicted in the Showtime series. “First ladies and their teams are often the vanguards of social progress in this country,” the previous first lady says in it, before going on to reassure Michelle by asserting that each first lady goes about her job in her own way. This simply reiterates the show’s primary message.
As a result, the series is historically correct in that Betty Ford did write Michelle Obama a letter while she was the first lady. The contents of the letter, as presented on the show, could, however, be made up. The show’s creators have brought the events to life using a historical fiction method that, in addition to adding drama to the story, aims to make correct assumptions as to what happened behind closed doors.
As a result, Betty Ford’s letter to Michelle Obama is almost certainly a work of historical fiction. The real-life letter was probably more official, whereas the one presented in the program appears to be far more dramatic and crafted to fit into and reinforce the show’s narrative.