Nancy Reagan - Early Life

Early Life

Anne Frances Robbins was born on July 6, 1921, at Manhattan's Sloane Hospital for Women in New York, as the only child of car salesman Kenneth Seymour Robbins (1894–1972) and his actress wife, Edith Luckett (1888–1987). Her godmother was silent-film-star Alla Nazimova. She lived her first two years in Flushing, Queens, in New York. While her parents divorced soon after her birth, they had already been separated for some time. As her mother traveled the country to pursue acting jobs, Nancy was raised in Bethesda, Maryland for the next six years by her aunt Virginia and uncle Audley Gailbraith. Nancy describes longing for her mother during those years: "My favorite times were when Mother had a job in New York, and Aunt Virgie would take me by train to stay with her."

In 1929, her mother married Loyal Davis (1896–1982), a prominent, politically conservative neurosurgeon who moved the family to Chicago. Nancy and her stepfather got along very well; she would later write that he was "a man of great integrity who exemplified old-fashioned values". He formally adopted her in 1935, and she would always refer to him as her father. At the time of the adoption, her name was legally changed to Nancy Davis (since birth, she had commonly been called Nancy). She attended the Girls' Latin School of Chicago (describing herself as an average student), graduated in 1939, and later attended Smith College in Massachusetts, where she majored in English and drama and graduated in 1943.

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