The First Lady: Is Betty Ford’s Helper Clara Based on a Real-Life Person?

Is Betty Ford’s Helper Clara Based on a Real Person
Image source: SHO

Is Betty Ford’s Helper Clara Based on a Real-Life Person? – From 1974 until 1977, Elizabeth Anne Ford (née Bloomer; formerly Warren; April 8, 1918 – July 8, 2011) served as the first lady of the United States as President Gerald Ford’s wife. She was interested in social policy as a first lady and set the trend as a politically engaged presidential spouse. Ford also served as the United States’ second lady from 1973 to 1974.

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 Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal (co-presented with her husband on October 21, 1998), as well as other honours (presented 1991 by George H. W. Bush).

The First Lady‘ tells the stories of three legendary first ladies of the United States: Michelle Obama (Viola Davis), Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson). The Showtime series shows both their early years and their time in the White House. The intricate story features a number of interesting acquaintances and family members who have an impact on the show’s three heroes.

Clara has worked for the Ford family for a long time and appears to be a member of the family. Clara becomes significant to the story because of her connection to the Ford family, from caring for their children to supporting them during Betty’s fight with alcoholism.

Given how much of the show is based on true events, let’s investigate whether Clara is based on a real person.

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Clara Powell
Source: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum

Is Clara, Betty Ford’s Personal Assistant, Based on a Real Person?

Yes, Clara Powell, the Ford family’s helper for twenty years, inspired the character of Clara in ‘The First Lady.’ Betty and Gerald were married in 1948, and she was hired in 1949. Betty was pregnant with her first child at the time Clara joined. Clara became an essential part of the Ford family over time, helping to raise each of the Ford children and being there at some of the family’s most important events.

“Clara has always been like a second mother to me,” Susan Ford is quoted as saying. She’d go to any length for us.” “You were always the one person I could count on to understand me and encourage me…” wrote Clara’s brother, Jack.

Clara states in letters kept in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum that her relationship with the Ford children compensated for the fact that she had no children of her own.

Clara Ford was also present at pivotal stages in Gerald Ford’s political career. She was present when he was confirmed as Vice President and was summoned to the White House for his inauguration.

Clara left the Fords in 1969, just over twenty years after joining them, to care for her dying father. The Ford children continued to visit her and her husband, Raymond, at their house in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia, as she mentioned in her letters. Clara was one of the people who attended an intervention in late 1970 to face Betty’s difficulties with alcohol and drug addiction.

Susan Ford felt her mother was in danger due to her alcohol and painkiller abuse and needed help, so she staged the intervention. Betty eventually agreed to check herself into a medical institution and healed.

As a result, the character of Clara in SHO’s ‘The First Lady‘ is based on a real person. For many years, Clara Powell was a vital part of the Ford home, almost like a family member. Clara was considered regarded be a second mother by Betty’s children. Clara became a close confidante to Betty during her struggles with addiction, in addition to being with the family through many major events.

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