tv First Lady Betty Ford CSPAN November 1, 2015 11:59pm-1:34am EST
those doors. i will note that there will be no seminar next week in this room, as it is columbus day. but october 19 you can come back . thank you to our participants. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> american history tv is featuring c-span's original series, first ladies: influence and image at 8 p.m. eastern time on sunday night throughout the rest of this year. c-span produced the series in cooperation with the white house historical association. through conversations with experts, video tours of historic sites, and questions from c-span's audience, we tell the stories of america's 45 first ladies.
now, betty ford. this is about 90 minutes. ♪ >> being ladylike does not require silence. why should my husband or yours prevent us from being ourselves. i do not believe that being first lady should prevent me from expressing my ideas. [applause] >> betty ford spoke her mind. pro-choice and a supporter of the equal rights amendment, she and president ford expressed her experience with breast cancer.
through much of her family's public life, she struggled with drug and alcohol dependency. confronting it defined her post white house years. tonight, we will tell you the story of elizabeth ford, the wife of our 38 president, gerald ford. for the next 90 minutes to tell her story is richard norton smith. he is one of our academic advisors for this whole project and he has helped launch a number of presidential libraries, among them the library for the forts. you bring that to the table. >> in the interest of full disclosure, i try to be as objective as possible but i was very fortunate to become good friends with both of the fort. >> we want to start tonight story with where we left off, the night of august, 1974 when they learned they were going to be in the white house.
how much of a surprise was it for them? >> this is one of the things that i find surprising. i took part in a lot of projects which included about 150 of the fourth associates including their children. you would think every other american household in the summer of 1974, at some point sat around the dinner table discussing what was happening and what might happen in the white house. the only dinner table in america where that discussion never took place, was the fords. for mrs. ford it was a case of denial. she said on august 9, 1974, that it was the saddest day of her life. in part she felt badly for the country but even more, she felt badly for pat nixon and the nixon family who were good friends of theirs.
he had never aspired to the presidency. she was even more reluctant to the idea of going and she did not find out until about a week before it happened. >> among the video pieces you will see tonight are some clips of the ford family children. the first one up is coming. we spoke to him a year ago at a conference of first ladies. we will have some of those pieces of that interview tonight. we have the families transition in august from their home in alexandria, virginia and the vice presidency. [video clip] >> she is doing her best. we will see about the others. >> you have to remember come after their dad was sworn in the day nixon resigned, people remember the image of nixon's
helicopter and him saying goodbye to his staff, and friends on the white house lawn. we go into the east room of the white house where he put his hand on the bible. we are sitting there. we take a family portrait in the oval office. nixon has cleared off his desk. people do not remember that we did not get to move into the white house because we lived in our own home in alexandria, virginia. because in resigned so quickly, and so unexpectedly, a were not able to pack up their belongings. they left their daughter and son-in-law to pack up all of their things. it took 7-8 days. we went back to our home in virginia. that just became the president of the united states. i will never forget, mom was cooking dinner that night and
she looks at my dad and she says -- something is wrong here. you just became the president of the united states and i am still cooking. that was our reality for the next seven days before we moved into the white house. >> when they transitioned, they were that basic american family. i remember the news reports where the president -- >> the fact is that mrs. ford was never a morning person. i expect he had been toasting his own english muffin for many years. what they don't know is what president ford, soon to be president ford said to his wife on the way back into the white
house very he realized his job was to reassure the country. if he could not reassure his wife, he would not be able to reassure the country. he whispered into her ear -- we can do it. it was just the right thing to say. he said a lot of great things that day. there were a lot of problems and controversies that ensued. there was a sense -- it was as if the country had been building up. to this thunderstorm. the storm raged for a wire and then suddenly, the clouds parted, and it was normal again. there were people in the white house who we could recognize and relate to. you have to remember that this was like going to live on
another planet. the first days she lived in the white house, she did not understand. she would walk through the halls and say hello to people when she saw them. secret service agents. household personnel. that was her nature. no one spoke back to her and she finally went to the curator and asked if she was doing something wrong. do they dislike us for being here. the woman said no, the nixon's were more formal and established that practice and so word went out to the white house staff that it is ok to talk to the first family. before long, there are stories about the butler about whom the movie was made recently preparing football scores. they became old shoe almost overnight.
>> tonight is no different regarding your involvement along the way. if you live in the eastern or central time zone please call us here. you can also send us a tweet. and finally, you can join our facebook conversation. you can see that there is a large picture of first lady betty ford and a robust conversation underway. we said at the outset, that her comments were also controversial. to this day, she remains controversial. people were telling us on facebook that i loved her or i could not stand her. >> she spoke her mind. the fact that she would address subjects -- quite frankly, you can understand a lot of the
criticism of people who were accustomed to more traditional approach to the job. first ladies were not overtly political. first ladies did not wade into intensely moral issues. like abortion. first ladies did not discuss whether their children had used marijuana or whether their daughter might have an affair. part of what was different was a for the first time, she was being asked questions that no one would have put to pat nixon or lady bird johnson. the difference was that she was willing to respond. >> on facebook, mary said mrs. ford was an inspiration, perfect for the times. we discussed the changing role of women and how the first lady
lady in office is often a benchmark for that. >> i think that is where she connected with millions of women. she was candid about her personal struggles, a lot of people did not realize that when she became first lady, that she had been married before. bonnie of time magazine, a correspondent, asked her about that. people did not know about it because people had not bothered to ask her. in 1957, the first time her name appeared in the washington post, it was about her fashion. her fashion sensibility. it talked about her taste of quiet tact. in 1957, that was -- a lot of people looked at betty ford as a cub scout den mother, a sunday school teacher from west michigan and they labeled her.
they wrote her off and effect. and then they discovered that no, actually, this is a woman with views of her own. she had a lot of challenges in her life. a lot of those challenges bonded her with millions of other women who entertained similar doubts and uncertainties as she did. >> your reference her first marriage. let us go back in time and learn where she came from and what influenced her. >> she was born in chicago. her parents are fascinating contrast. her mother is really the dominating, defining figure in her life. hortense, i have often thought of her as a character out of tennessee williams. she came from a lot of status.
it meant a lot to her mother. she insisted for example that betty where white gloves when she went shopping. she was a perfectionist to end all perfectionists. betty as a child was prone to overeat. she responded by hanging a sign over her daughter's neck saying -- please don't feed this child. exactly. hortense was a formidable figure. her father, talk about patterns, her father was a traveling salesman and an alcoholic. he died amidst mysterious circumstances when she was 16. it was one of those steps that was never quite fully discussed. it was only then, that betty learned that her father was an
alcoholic. and that those trips that her mother had made from time to time to be with him on the road, were the consequence of his illness. it was a house of secrets. a florist there. she had two brothers, one of whom was an alcoholic. in many ways, she was genetically or culturally programmed for the disease that she would have later on. hortense is a larger-than-life figure. she was president of the hospital in grand rapids for crippled children. she wanted betty to join the junior league at an early age and rise of the latter. she had problems with a daughter
who had a mind of her own. who wanted to pursue a career as a dancer. >> she went to new york and study dance and was accepted into the martha graham troop. >> she spent a couple of years in bennington, vermont associated with the program there. then, she joined the martha graham company. she never made the first rank. she was very modest in later years. it is a key to her personality. she was a natural performer. she was perfectly comfortable being on the stage. in some ways, that came back to her to aid her when she became first lady. she came back to grand rapids and taught dance. she worked as a fashion coordinator at a local department store.
and she, by her own acknowledgment was a party girl who met a party boy. she had known him since she was 12 years old. bill warren who was himself a traveling salesman and an alcoholic. they were married. she was 24. she had almost overnight embraced a whole different set of values. she was ready to settle down. and be a wife and have children. that was not necessarily the same agenda that he had. interestingly, she made the decision after about three years, to divorce him. then he went into a diabetic coma. she spent the next two years nursing him back to health. and then, she filed for divorce. >> 1947. five years. >> she called it her five-year
misunderstanding. >> i went to get to the story of how she met and married gerald ford that let us take a call first. first up is susan who is watching us in corpus christi, texas. >> i just wanted to say that i have really enjoyed the whole series. it has been wonderful. i love the way this is being done. i just love it. my question is, did betty ford support her husband gerald ford when he wanted to run for the presidency. he became president by being the vice president but when he wanted to run for president, did she support him in this? >> a good question. she did support him vigorously. both of the fords. people forget that ford at the
beginning of his presidency let it be known that he would not be a candidate in 1976. henry kissinger helped persuade him that that would undermine the presidency from the outset making him a lame-duck. both decided they liked life in the white house. for mrs. ford, it was a great improvement. her husband as house minority leader was on the road over 260 nights a year. he spent more time with her once they were in the white house. they were both determined to do their best to extend the ford presidency. for him particularly, to have the mandate of a popular election as the only appointed
president, almost a president with an asterisk. >> when they first met, she did not know she was getting a politician. >> it is hard for me to believe that she was totally naïve. gerald ford was a big man on campus. a local hero from his high school days as a football player. it is not terribly surprising that he should decide to go into public life. there is no doubt that she was surprised. they were married in october 1948. >> we have a question on twitter. did they schedule their wedding for october 15, 1948 after the republican primary and why? >> yes. you have to know west michigan to appreciate. west michigan was a culturally conservative place where the
dutch reformed church held sway. ford was a fiscal conservative. he was running against an entrenched republican incumbent. an isolationist who opposed the marshall plan. ford was a world war ii returning veteran who had seen the consequences of american isolationism. he went into politics with an idea which was that america would have to play a significant leadership role in the world. mrs. ford was a divorcee. he told her when he proposed that he wanted to get married but he could not tell her when. the fact of the matter is his political advisers were very concerned that west michigan -- he was already facing an uphill
campaign. that having a divorcee in the family might add -- might lengthen those odds even more. on october 15, about three weeks before the election, he showed up late. he showed up at the rehearsal dinner late, he showed up in time for dessert at the reversal dinner. he was late for the wedding. he showed up in brown shoes, and a dark suit with muddy shoes because he had been out campaigning. their glamorous honeymoon consisted of an overnight in michigan sitting outdoors listening to timothy dooley and then a football game in ann arbor. she stayed in the hotel. he went to the game. they went back to grand rapids
on monday. he said he had to campaign that evening and could she make him a sandwich. i think they took a number of second honeymoons to compensate. >> a lot of women around the country are agreeing with her. children followed their marriage shortly after. talking about their congressional years. let us here as for talking about that life. steve ford: dad was on the road about 200 nights a year out campaigning for other republicans trying to get a majority in congress.
mom, to her credit, was the one, like many moms was back home making sure that we got to the dentist and got our homework done. and getting to sports practices. the glue that held the kids together while dad was out being a public servant. it was later in the presidency that she finally had a chance to blossom or shine. and get her chance in the spotlight. during that 26 years of being a congressman, she was the one that kept the family or drove the family. it is interesting because -- sometimes we got into trouble. and it was always, wait until your father gets home. we knew that by the time , the storm would blow over. my heart went out to mom because she was the one that had to keep the whole ship pointed in the
right direction. >> i am going to take a call but keeping the ship together -- i will start another important chapter in her life. let us listen to michael from atlanta. >> thank you. my question is, what opinion or influence did mrs. ford have been president for its decision to pardon richard nixon? >> that is a great question. it is one of the elusive areas. she said very little -- she thought it was necessary and an act of courage. she said what you would expect her to say in her first memoir. i will say, towards the end of his life, and i am sure c-span viewers would recall that at the john f. kennedy library, it
chose to give him the profiles in courage award specifically for the nixon pardon. he was initially reluctant to go across the country at his age. he did not see the emotional significance of this. it was mrs. ford who i think convinced him -- this is the greatest honor that has been bestowed on you since we left office. after the profiles in courage award, people stopped asking. >> robert is in chicago. >> hello and thank you for your time. two presidents, kennedy and hoover never received an income as president. did mrs. ford received any income after president ford
passed away? >> you are right about hoover and jfk. rejecting federal salaries as president. in hoover's case, he never accepted payment for any of his areas positions whether secretary of commerce or the hoover commission. the question about mrs. ford -- >> did she get a widow's pension? >> i do not believe that you get back. i don't think so. >> back to the amount of time, -- >> no, in terms of payment or pension, no. there is an office -- the president's office remained in operation and she had a privilege.
a franking privilege. where you get free postage. and secret service protection. >> did the public pay for that? >> yes. there were benefits but not salaries. back to their days in congress, steve ford talks about his dad being on the road. that is a lot of time. what were his aspirations? >> in 1963, there was a youth movement among republicans. they were tired of being in the minority.
there was an uprising and ford was catapulted into the number three position in the leadership at the time. 1964 came and the goldwater debacle happened. at the beginning of 1965, he became house republican leader. he ran against a man who had himself staged an uprising against martin, his predecessor. this was not ideological. it was generational. it was the young people's turn. people who ran the campaign said the two people for the most instrumental in his victory by three votes over charlie, one was a young congressman from illinois named donald rumsfeld. the other was a congressman from kansas named bob dole. what that election signified was that the republican party was moving, the center of gravity of the republican party was moving away from the old eastern establishment. at that time, it was in the
midwest that there is already beginning to be a significant number of republicans in the south, in both houses of congress, a trend that would accelerate. 40 years later, you could argue that the midwestern party had become a largely southern and western one. >> beside her familiar predisposition, did her being alone to raise her children cause her drinking? we will let her memoir provide the answer. i hated feeling crippled so i took more pills. now i know the pain i was trying to wipe out was emotional. i was beginning to feel sorry for myself. he gets all of the headlines and applause, what about me. she goes on to write that in 1965, a year after i mixed pain
medication and alcohol, i snapped. i packed my bags and decided to let my family, my ungrateful family worry about me. >> in 1965, that is the year where her husband had become house republican leader. >> between his first election in congress and their vice presidential pick, talk about her drug and alcohol use and what she has written about it and what people should know regarding how big a problem it had become. >> it became a big problem in the 1960's.
there were a number of contributing factors. there was a physical -- she had developed arthritis. she had a pinched nerve which may or may not have been the result of reaching up to raise a window. but she did have a pinched nerve that was excruciatingly painful. she had pills prescribed for her. they made her feel better. the alcohol made her feel better still. one of the things that you realize as we went through this oral history project i mentioned, although we were not particularly looking for this information, people volunteered. talk about a cultural change. it is remarkable how much more people drank routinely. people drink to excess routinely. in washington, 40 years ago. the argument can be made that it may have lubricated a more civil culture. obviously, that has some serious consequences also. >> from the top of house minority leader, how was he richard nixon's pick?
>> he was considered in 1968. he was not interested in the executive branch. he loved congress. he wanted there he much to be a first republican speaker in a a long time. that was his goal. in 1973, arguably --, while watergate is unfolding, it becomes apparent that vice president spiro agnew is also under investigation, unrelated offenses. many of them stemming from his time as governor of maryland. to make a long story short, he resigns the office in october of 1973 and the 25th amendment
which has never been applied until now is applied. richard nixon have to find a vice president, critically, he needs to find a vice president that can be confirmed. in the political climate of that time, there were very few people. left it to his druthers, he would have chosen connelly but connelly, a former democrat turned republican could not have been affirmed. in the end, democrats on the hill, mike mansfield for example, told the white house, if you want someone who can be confirmed, easily, pick jerry ford. that is what the president did.
>> as a vice presidential couple, their time was short. december 1973 until august 1974. much of that time was consumed, the country was consumed with the unfolding watergate scandal so it was a time that the fords did not do much as vice president. >> he got out of town, very shrewdly. >> what did she do? >> she was back at the house in alexandria. she realized that for the first time in her life, she has to be on time for that was a lifelong issue. she was not punctual. there are those that feel it was a passive aggressive issue. it was one of those things in her marriage that she could control. in any event, all of that changed when she became the vice presidents wife. she also had causes she was involved with. she had been involved with disabled children from an early age. she worked at children's
hospitals. in addition to that, she also had the vice presidential residence that had never been occupied before that had to be decorated. >> and they never got to it. >> two days. a few days before richard nixon resigned, the vice president agreed to a company his wife to the house that he knew they would never live in because if he did not, the press would have sensed that we are in the endgame. he did not want to give that away. >> he finally told her -- betty, we will never make it to that house. >> they went to a dinner party. they kept all of this -- august 1, he had been told by general haig, the white house chief of staff, about what was known as
the smoking gun tape. it was pretty clear what the consequences would be of that. after midnight that night, he said, betty we will never live in that house. >> hello. enjoying everything. betty ford wrote wonderful autobiographies. are they in print? i cannot commend them to strongly. >> we will show them both on screen. she cowrote an autobiography with another author.
the second one was -- betty, a glad awakening. are they still in print? >> i think the first volume is not. sadly, chris, the author that worked on both of these volumes, passed away within the month. a glad awakening is a very candid, almost painfully candid. it is much more mrs. ford. there is also a wonderful wry sense of humor. you can experience her rebirth in print. >> we're going to listen to betty ford herself one month after they were sworn in as first couple. she held a news conference at the white house. let us listen to one of the questions that was asked of her. >> how would you like to be remembered? >> well, i would like to be remembered in a very kind way. also, as a constructive wife of
a president. i do not expect to come anywhere near living up to those first ladies who have gone before me. they have all done a great job and i admired them a great deal. it is my ambition to come close to them. >> one day, out of the blue, we were talking and she said to me, i do not know why people thought it was a bad thing that i admired eleanor roosevelt. it was not just the public accomplishments of eleanor roosevelt as it was the private challenges that eleanor roosevelt had confronted along the way. in becoming eleanor roosevelt. she was a role model. also, lady bird johnson.
she was a very good friend but you -- but she was also a role model. >> this was a to mulch with our country's history. we chose a few of them as hallmark events of the ford years beginning with the pardon of richard nixon. in 1976, a nation celebrated the bicentennial. there were two assassination attempts on his life while he was in office. you will remember the scenes of the helicopters leaving the american embassy as saigon fell. a lot of history happening. >> history accelerated during that time. >> on a personal front, mrs. ward discovered she had breast cancer. >> in some ways, this was the
moment, the indelible moment, that she first impressed herself on the american people. maybe the whole ford family. it is really hard, 40 years later, to conceive of the degree to which people did not talk about this disease. euphemisms were employed. even in obituaries. people did not die of breast cancer, they died of a wasting illness. what mrs. ford did was to bring this out in the open. overnight, she transformed the way women in particular looked at this disease. for her, it was also a lesson. it was her first and most important lesson in the influence that a first lady can
have by being herself, by shining the light on a dark corner, by educating the public. >> let's listen to president ford himself announcing the results of her surgery. president ford: i just returned from the hospital. i saw betty. she came from the operating room. the doctor has assured me that she came through the operation all right. [applause] it has been a difficult 36 hours. our faith will sustain us. betty would expect me to be here. >> in a few weeks, i will complete my chemotherapy treatments.
and that will be another milestone for me. since that first year, i have not talked much about the difference my experience with cancer -- but at my time, my mastectomy and the discussion about it, i was really pleased to see it because it prompted a lot of women to go and get checkups in their local communities. it made my inspiration easier because i knew that i was helping others. i make this progress report to help cheer up those who have just had an operation for cancer and to encourage them to keep up their good spirits.
part of the battle against cancer is to fight the fear that accompanies the disease. >> of course, famously, one of those women who was inspired by her example was the wife of the vice president who two weeks after mrs. ford's of surgery was diagnosed herself and who went on to have surgery of her own. >> when you see president ford making that announcement, you can see his lip quivering. >> it was very emotional. he said that night when he went home alone to the white house, the night before that was the lowliest night of his life. >> terry robinson on twitter wants to know if there were there any other results from her candor?
>> i think it initiated what has been missing. a national conversation. a conversation among women, between women and their doctors. when it comes to women's health issues, literally, history is divided into two periods. before betty and after betty. >> we have photographs of betty and her hospital room looking at the get well cards from the nation. >> hello. let me congratulate you on a wonderful series. i have been watching since mrs. jackson.
i was wondering -- president ford was a member of the warren commission. i was wondering what mrs. ford thought of his involvement in that commission and the results and the controversies that have since occurred from the results. >> that is a great question but i am sorry to say that i never had a conversation with her about that. i never heard her discuss that. he felt very strongly -- he was once trapped on an airplane, i should not tell this but i will. he was on an airplane, the movie was oliver stones, jfk and he was not happy. artistic license is one thing, but he really worried that young people, people who were not alive at the time of the assassination, would see this and conclude that it was in fact history. we had a number of conversations about the warren commission. he and his fellow congressional
members, remember dick russell --. the members of congress on that commission were careful in the language that they chose. they rewrote the staffs initial report to say that we have found no evidence of a conspiracy. that is a little different in a subtle way from saying flat-out, there was no conspiracy. >> speaking of assassinations, we mentioned that he had two attempts on his life. is he the only president that has had assassination attempts by women? i cannot think of any. >> i think you are right. it is a classic instant of the times. a member of the manson family --
take that for what it is worth, and sarah j moore who was a bay area housewife who was on the fringes of radical politics. only in the 1970's would either of those characters have emerged to public notice. >> what about the ford family's reaction to these assassination attempts? was security increased? >> i think the secret service really did change things after. for a while, he sporadically wore bulletproof vests. he went in and he had his meeting with governor brown and he never mentioned what had happened outside. he said later on that it would be ungracious to tell the
governor, some lady tried to shoot me in your front yard. >> we have a photograph of him being escorted away from the scene. with twitter and all of the instant news, he could not have kept that from the sitting governor like he did them. >> it is also very unlikely that he would be out strolling through the grounds of the state capital as they decided on the spur of the moment that morning in september 1975. >> [indiscernible] ford said, may the best team win.
>> let me answer that this way. in 1976, they were rather frosty. they were running a very intense, very close really uncertain battle for the republican nomination. quite frankly, the ford white house underestimated ronald reagan. the arm is paid the ultimate price for doing so. in later years, remember, crazy as it sounds, in 1980, president reagan very seriously thought about having gerald ford on his ticket as his running mate.
i also know that in the 1990's, after president reagan wrote his letter to the american people revealing his alzheimer's, president ford visited him more than once after that. whatever old animosities there may have been, they were long since evaporated. even more so, with jimmy carter. >> talk about her interest in issues. how political was betty ford in her own right? was she simply a supporter of her husband's beliefs? >> that is a good question because publicly, she was arguably the most political first lady since eleanor roosevelt.
she publicly disagreed with her husband during the presidency on roe v wade which it she famously discussed on the 60 minute interview. and other venues. she was very much an independent force. initially, that it terrified people in the white house. after the 60 minutes interview, the president said jokingly, you lost me 20 million votes. it was only a few days later, when the first polls came in, and the people in the white house were astonished that in fact, there was an overwhelming current 70%, of those that were polled, sympathized with the first lady's candor if not necessarily her specific views.
>> here is the first lady herself talking about the equal rights amendment to the constitution and urging its ratification. >> the equal rights amendment when ratified will not be an instant solution to women's problems. it will not alter the fabric of the constitution. or force women away from their families. it will help knock down those restrictions that have locked women in to the old stereotyped behavior and opportunities. it will help open up more options for women. but it is only the beginning. the debate over e.r.a. has become too emotional because of the fears of some, both men and women, about the changes already taking place in america. >> within the republican party
itself, the party that has had barry goldwater in the 1960's. how do they feel about her views on this and abortion rights? >> there was no doubt that she was a polarizing take your. 70% voiced approval. that meant 30% disapproved. you can be sure that the 30% was disproportionately the republican base. certainly, conservative republicans. traditionalists. there was a legitimate debate,
it was interesting, i would recommend to your readers -- a book about the ford presidency -- it is well researched and a great read. that author makes the case stronger than i would that she was on balance, detrimental to her husband's reelection prospects. particularly within the republican party. not exclusively though. >> you have mentioned the 60 minutes interview a couple of times. how significant was it to the public's view of her and the parties in view of her? >> i think it defined her to millions of people. for many, it was the first time they had seen her in that kind of setting. i also think -- remember how americans were accustomed to seeing their first ladies on television. we saw mrs. kennedy's unforgettable white house tour.
it was a very orchestrated presentation. people were not accustomed to a first lady being asked or answering these kinds of questions. she felt people were talking about these issues around their dinner tables all around america. why shouldn't the first family have the same privilege? >> they covered issues such as divorce, the use of marijuana, their daughter's dating and sex before marriage. >> she also talked about -- she mentioned she was working on getting a woman on the supreme court. john paul stevens -- was safe to say would probably not have been her first choice, but she was not doing the choosing.
>> thank you very much. i love this show. i read somewhere that mrs. ford was older than president ford. was that true? >> he was five years her senior. >> we talked along the way in this series about the use of the white house for entertaining, but entertaining with a political purpose. to start that, we are going to go to the ford museum in grand rapids where the curator there shows us a bit of her elements of style and how she approached that aspect of her job. let us watch. >> hand-in-hand with mrs. ford's love of dance was her love of design and fashion. particularly, she wanted to promote american fashion. these are some of her dresses and gowns from her first lady's period. this was the gown that she wore
to her first state dinner with the jordanian leader. this also, the next one is also a frankie welsch dress. this, she wore for her official portrait as first lady. this is a dress that some people might recognize. she wore this down for a portrait that was taken of the family and featured on the cover of time magazine. she also loved very practical design as well. a designer from new york designed a number of gowns and dresses for her. very practical and inexpensive
but for her very functional. she would wear it these outfits, both of which are at this designer's pieces, to arrival ceremonies for dignitaries but also to the hairdresser, to church, on trips for campaigning events. they were the ones that she could get the most comfortable in. this is a piece that she wore for the 60 minutes interview. she faced morley safer while wearing this dress. she fielded his many questions. we know a lot of this because one of the things that mrs. ford was very careful about was keeping secretaries cards for each of these dresses. there were notations made on where she wore them, when she wore them. for many of them, she wore them multiple times. some of these are in the hand writing of her handwriting. many of these extended beyond the first ladies period.
she would wear these into the early 1980's. and her love for design, for promotion of american fashion, led in 1976 to her receiving the prestigious school of design award. this is the accolade she received for her promotion of american designers in fashion. >> she loved clothing. she had been a model in her early days. one of the waste she supported
herself in new york was as a professional model. >> back to twitter, we have a question who wants to know how did she balance being first lady and a mother? >> for people -- one reason i said that lady bird johnson was a role model was because mrs. johnson is exhibit a in how to do that. mrs. ford said she thought that being a good housewife and mother was a much tougher job than going to the office and getting paid for it. so she was a traditionalist and a trailblazer. >> during that very brief presidency, they hosted a number of events. >> yes, because it was during the ice and tenniel year. this was a very hotly contested republican race for the nomination and it played out against the backdrop of the american bicentennial. she loved entertaining. this is why when steve talked about her blossoming, this is what he meant. this was a woman who loved being on the stage.
this first lady, she was back on the stage. she really enjoyed the entertaining part of the job. the entertainments were really personalized. she rounded up original remington sculptures to decorate every table in the dining room. the guests became favorites and one of the entertainers referred to her as a sister. they were very, very close friends.