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Betty Ford: The Real Deal

Airs Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 3 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Former First Lady Betty Ford

Family, friends, historians and Betty Ford herself reflect on her life as a political spouse; an accidental and outspoken first lady; breast cancer survivor; and feminist pro-choice Republican in "Betty Ford: The Real Deal," a one-hour biography which originally aired in March 2009.

Former First Lady Betty Ford with her arms around her husband, former U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, in the White House Oval Office.
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Above: Former First Lady Betty Ford with her arms around her husband, former U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, in the White House Oval Office.

Former First Lady Betty Ford aboard the presidential jet carrying the body of President Ford en route to Washington, DC, December 30, 2006. President Ford died at his Rancho Mirage, California, home on December 26, 2006.
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Above: Former First Lady Betty Ford aboard the presidential jet carrying the body of President Ford en route to Washington, DC, December 30, 2006. President Ford died at his Rancho Mirage, California, home on December 26, 2006.

Produced by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, the documentary explores the life of one of the most influential of the modern first ladies. Although, her candor in the White House initially caused consternation among her husband’s advisors and supporters; it eventually earned her the affection, trust and admiration of a country that had become distrustful, angry and cynical in the wake of the Watergate scandal and an unpopular war.

Diagnosed with breast cancer less than a month after becoming First Lady, her openness about her treatment raised awareness of the disease and saved lives by prompting thousands of women to schedule mammograms.

Later, her influence coupled with her openness of her own struggles would once again have a positive impact on millions of Americans. Mrs. Ford and her children recount her troubles with alcohol and substance abuse and the family intervention which lead the way, not only to her recovery, but to the establishment of the pioneering treatment facility which bears her name.

Narrated by award-winning actress Jane Alexander, "Betty Ford: The Real Deal," features never before seen photos and film footage, plus interviews with Mrs. Ford, her four children and close friends; as wells as interviews with, among others, presidential historians Michael Beschloss, Richard Norton Smith, and; former White House photographer David Hume Kennerly.

Video

Betty Ford: The Real Deal

Above: Family, friends, historians and Betty Ford herself reflect on her life as a political spouse; an accidental and outspoken first lady; breast cancer survivor; and feminist pro-choice Republican in "Betty Ford: The Real Deal," a one-hour biography which aired in March 2009 on PBS.