Nancy Reagan, the former actress who was fiercely protective of husband Ronald Reagan through a Hollywood career, eight years in the White House, an assassination attempt and her husband’s Alzheimer’s disease, died on Sunday at age 94.
The cause of death was congestive heart failure, said a spokeswoman for the Reagan presidential library. She died at her Los Angeles home.
“She is once again with the man she loved,” her stepson Michael Reagan wrote on Twitter.
Reagan became one of the most influential first ladies in U.S. history during her Republican husband’s presidency from 1981 to 1989.
Her husband, who affectionately called her “Mommy” while she called him “Ronnie,” died in 2004 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s, the progressive brain disorder that destroys memory.
As news of Nancy Reagan’s death spread, tributes poured in from Washington to Hollywood.
President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and first lady Michelle Obama said Nancy Reagan redefined the role of first lady.
“Nancy Reagan once wrote that nothing could prepare you for living in the White House,” the Obamas wrote in a joint statement on Sunday. “She was right, of course. But we had a head start, because we were fortunate to benefit from her proud example, and her warm and generous advice.”
Former first lady Barbara Bush said she and her husband, former President George H. W. Bush, who was vice president under Reagan, took comfort in knowing Nancy Reagan would be reunited with her husband, the late president.
The Hollywood glitterati weighed in on social media, many of them grieving the passing of an icon they remembered having grown up in the Reagan era.
“I sat near #Nancy Reagan once and felt like a teenager seeing one of my idols. She was a BOSS,” wrote actress Elizabeth Banks of “The Hunger Games” fame.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, who like Ronald Reagan rode his Hollywood fame to the governor’s office in California, said on Twitter that Nancy Reagan was “one of my heroes.”