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Factbox: Former first lady Betty Ford

Facts about former first lady Betty Ford, who died on Friday in California at age 93.
/ Source: Reuters

Facts about former first lady Betty Ford, who died on Friday in California at age 93.

* Ford was a model and dancer early in her life and studied with modern dance legend Martha Graham in New York. At his wife's urging, Gerald Ford presented Graham with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976.

* She married Gerald Ford in 1948, about a year after a divorce ended her five-year marriage to furniture salesman William Warren. Her marriage to Ford, who died in 2006, lasted 58 years.

* She developed a substance abuse problem that apparently began in the 1960s with prescription drugs taken for a pinched nerve in her neck. She also had a drinking problem that continued through her time in the White House. She entered the Long Beach, California, Naval Hospital's Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Service in 1978 after a family intervention.

* She and Leonard Firestone, part of the Firestone tire family and a former ambassador to Belgium, founded the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California, in 1982 to treat alcohol and drug addiction. She mandated that half of the clinic's facilities be designated for women.

* Ford was known for her candid nature and support of various causes. She backed passage of the Equal Rights Amendment for women and worked on behalf of the mentally disabled, child abuse prevention, nursing home reform and the National Endowment of the Arts.

* She was quoted as saying premarital sex might lower the divorce rate and supported abortion rights. Ford also raised awareness of breast cancer after undergoing a radical mastectomy two months after moving into the White House.

* When Gerald Ford was inaugurated as president, he singled out Betty by saying, "I am indebted to no man and only to one woman -- my dear wife."