Remember When the First Lady Sat on Mr. T’s Lap?

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:

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She hung out with beloved 80s sitcom star, Alf (yes, that’s right, he’s an alien puppet with an attitude. Google it):

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As well as Michael Jackson:

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And she visited the cast of the hit TV show, Diff’rent Strokes:

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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:

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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.

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