Former First Lady Nancy Reagan died Sunday at the age of 94. In her trademark red outfits and perfectly coiffed helmet hair, she was a formidable First Lady, even given her diminutive size (and penchant for consulting astrologers).
Nancy was a cultural force to be reckoned with. She left a permanent (and controversial) mark on popular culture with her “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign:
Indeed, for a time in the 1980s, you couldn’t turn on the television without hearing yet another anti-drug public service announcement (aging Gen-Xers have been known to ironically repeat this PSA’s tag line, uttered by a teenager whose father finds his hidden drug stash: “I learned it by watching you!”):
One thing we all learned from watching Nancy Reagan was the power of marrying Hollywood and politics. Nancy often courted Hollywood celebrities to promote her causes:
She perched on Mr. T’s knee to promote . . . well, who knows:
She hung out with beloved 80s sitcom star, Alf (yes, that’s right, he’s an alien puppet with an attitude. Google it):
As well as Michael Jackson:
And she visited the cast of the hit TV show, Diff’rent Strokes:
Like some bizarre 1980s secret celebrity coven, there is even a picture of Nancy with Cher, Tom Cruise, and a pre-Caitlyn Bruce Jenner all in the same photo:
Presidents have always invited celebrities to the White House, but we have Nancy Reagan to thank for taking this often unusual marriage of Hollywood and Washington to a whole new level. Today, reality television stars play at being politicians, but Nancy Reagan was no one’s apprentice when it came to celebrity—or to being First Lady.