Lisa McCubbin, award-winning journalist and the author of numerous New York Times bestselling titles, discussed her new book “Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer” on September 12, 2018 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. “Betty Ford” is the first in-depth biography of Betty Ford since her passing in 2011.
The discussion at the Library was the first stop for Lisa McCubbin during her national book tour of “Betty Ford”, as the book was just released the day before. Her presentation was the first time the Library hosted a kickoff of a national book tour.
The book is based on intimate in-depth interviews with family, friends, and colleagues of Mrs. Ford. McCubbin reveals a fiercely independent woman who had a lively sense of humor, unwavering faith, and an indomitable spirit – the true story behind one of the most admired and influential women of our time.
A graduate of Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, McCubbin has been a television news anchor and reporter, hosted her own radio talk show, and spent six years in the Middle East as a freelance journalist in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Doha, Qatar.
McCubbin co-wrote with Clint Hill, a former U.S. Secret Service agent, three memoirs on Hill’s remarkable career: “Mrs. Kennedy and Me”; “Five Days in November”; and “Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford”.
She began her discussion highlighting Betty Ford’s childhood background including her theory on why she was called Betty from a young age. McCubbin touched on Betty’s young life with her brothers, summer vacations, her father traveling away from home for work, and when she fell in love with dancing. It was also noted that Betty Ford’s father and brother were alcoholics.
After moving to New York City for two and a half years to attend dance school, Betty returned to Grand Rapids, MI and opened her own dance studio. Soon afterward Betty married her first husband which ended in divorce. A short time later she met and married Gerald R. Ford. The timing of their wedding was aligned with Ford’s campaign for U.S. Congress, which he won and they moved to Washington, D.C.
McCubbin recalled Betty’s life raising her family, while her husband traveled for his job. While in D.C., the Ford’s welcomed four children, Mike, Jack, Steve, and Susan. While raising her children, McCubbin recalled the story of when Betty was diagnosed with a pinched nerve which she was prescribed painkillers for her pain, and thus began her dependency on pills.
After years in Congress, Gerald finally promised Betty he would not run for re-election and, they would move back to Grand Rapids at the end of his next term. But with the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew and President Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford became President propelling Betty from a Congressman’s wife to the nation’s First Lady where her trailblazing ways would shine brightest.
McCubbin further expanded on Betty Ford’s lasting impact on social issues including the Equal Rights Amendment, breast cancer awareness, and addiction services through the Betty Ford Clinic.