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Gerald Ford

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Birthday: Jul 14, 1913

Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. was born in Omaha, Neb., on July 14, 1913, but he was born Leslie Lynch King Jr. - named for his biological father, whom his mother Dorothy divorced by the end of that year. She gained full custody of the child and remarried in 1916, tying the knot with salesman Gerald Rudolff Ford. After the marriage, they called their son Gerald Rudolff Ford Jr. (he legally changed his name, with the more conventional spelling of Rudolph, on Dec. 3, 1935). Gerald remained unaware of the name change until he was 17. Ford was raised in Grand Rapids, Mich., with three half-brothers. He was the captain of his high school football team, and continued his playing career while attending the University of Michigan. After graduating, he was offered positions playing pro football for both the Lions and Packers but chose to further his education, attending Yale Law School, where he served as a football and boxing coach. His first taste of politics came in 1940, volunteering for Wendell Wilkie's presidential campaign and attending the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. He graduated from Yale in 1941 and returned to Grand Rapids, where he worked at a law firm and dabbled in local politics. When World War II began, Ford enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. After returning to civilian life in 1946, he resumed his law career and civic activities. In August 1947 he met former model and dancer Elizabeth "Betty" Bloomer through mutual friends. Less than a year later, Ford ran for Congress, representing Michigan's 5th District. He married Betty in October 1948, then won the election weeks later and the couple moved to Washington, D.C. He declined to make a run for the Senate in 1954 and ended up serving a lengthy run in the House that lasted until 1973, when Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned amidst allegations of tax evasion and bribery. President Richard Nixon nominated Ford to replace Agnew, and Ford was sworn in as America's 40th vice president on Dec. 6, 1973. The allegations didn't end with Agnew's resignation and the ensuing months saw investigations into Nixon's involvement in the Watergate scandal, leading to the president's resignation on Aug. 8, 1974. Ford was sworn in as the country's 38th president on Aug. 9, 1974. On August 20, Ford nominated former New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller to fill his vacant vice president position, and Rockefeller was sworn in on December 19. Within weeks of Ford taking office, he pardoned Nixon - throwing his integrity into question - and Betty was diagnosed with breast cancer. Other issues Ford faced in the early part of his presidency included an economy on the downturn, rocky foreign relations and an energy crisis. Around that time, two assassination attempts were also made on Ford's life. He faced a tough challenge from Ronald Reagan for the GOP's nomination in the 1976 presidential election and barely earned the nod. Ford ultimately lost to Jimmy Carter in the general election, making him the only man to date to serve as president and vice president but never be elected to either position. He considered making another run for the Republican nomination in 1980, but he announced on March 15, 1980, that he would forgo a campaign and support the eventual nominee, which ended up being Reagan. That put an end to Ford's political career, though he would remain in the public eye. Ford suffered two minor strokes while attending the 2000 Republican National Convention. Health issues continued to mount, and by November 2006 Ford was confined to a bed in his study. He died from cardiac arrest at his California home on Dec. 26, 2006. To date, he was the longest-living U.S. president, surpassing Reagan by 45 days.

Filmography

TV

Credit
No Score Yet No Score Yet What's My Line? Guest 1969

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