Betty Ford left a lasting legacy

By Lisa Burns
Associate Professor of Media Studies

Betty Ford was one of the most outspoken and active first ladies in history, in spite of the fact that her tenure lasted just 2 1/2 years.

She attracted a lot of media attention by vocally supporting feminist issues including the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion rights.

What most people don’t remember is that she also talked openly to reporters about undergoing a mastectomy at a time when breast cancer was something that people didn’t discuss. She was credited for raising public awareness about breast cancer and was named one of Ladies’ Home Journal’s “Women of the Year” in 1976.

Following her White House years, she continued to share her personal struggles with alcohol and drugs. In founding the Betty Ford Center, her name became synonymous with recovery from addiction, leaving a lasting legacy.

Lisa Burns, associate professor of media studies, is the author of “First Ladies and the Fourth Estate: Press Framing of Presidential Wives” (2008). Members of the media can reach her through Jamie DeLoma, assistant director of public relations and social media, at 203-540-9399.

Categories: School of Communications

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