Former first lady, humanitarian, and spokesperson on alcoholism and drug addiction. Born Elizabeth Ann Bloomer on April 8, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois. She was the third child and only daughter of Hortense Neahr and William Stephenson Bloomer. The family lived in Chicago and Denver, before settling in Grand Rapids, Michigan, when Betty was two years old. William Bloomer sold conveyor belts for the Royal Rubber Co. The family spent summers at its cottage at Whitefish Lake in northern Michigan. In her 1978 autobiography, Ford described her childhood and high school years as filled with friends, dates, and social outings. Her mother was a stickler for etiquette and she enrolled her children in social dance classes. When Betty began the lessons at the age of eight, it was the beginning of a lifelong love for dance. Soon, she was learning Spanish, ballet, tap and acrobatic dance. She began teaching dance to young children at the age of 14. There were dark times in her childhood. The family lost money during the Depression, and when Betty was 16, her father died of carbon monoxide poisoning while working on a car. Dreamed of Dancing
After graduating from high school, Bloomer worked as a fashion assistant for a department store in Grand Rapids and taught dance. She dreamed of dancing in New York, but her mother, with whom she had a close relationship, refused to allow her daughter to move to New York until she was 20. As a consolation, Bloomer studied for two summers at the Bennington School of Dance in Bennington, Vermont, where she met many well-known dancers, including Martha Graham. In 1938, Bloomer traveled to New York to study dance at Graham's school. To help support herself, she also worked as a model with the John Roberts Powers agency. After about one year, Bloomer's mother persuaded her to return to Grand Rapids. She continued working at the department store, started her own dance group, worked with handicapped children, and maintained an active social life. Bloomer expected to return to New York to continue her studies with Graham, but her plans changed. In 1942, she married Bill Warren, whom she'd known since grade school. Warren held a series of jobs, moving the young couple to Maumee, Ohio, and Syracuse, New York, before returning to Grand Rapids. Three years into the marriage, Bloomer realized the couple was incompatible. She wanted a home and a family; her husband spent a lot of time on the road. She decided to seek a divorce.
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Betty Ford biography
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