Thursday, October 27, 2005

NANCY REAGAN: Her Voice is as Strong as Ever!

First Lady Nancy ReaganIn May of 1987, I'd been in Los Angeles only seven months, scraping by financially, getting work wherever I could, mostly in construction. One contractor's wife happened to be a commercial producer, and he told her of my interest in the film business. Shortly thereafter, I was offered the opportunity to work as assistant production coordinator on a series of Public Service Announcements for First Lady Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No To Drugs" campaign. (Ultimately, this job ended up launching my career...only in America!)

The spots were filmed on Stage 12 at Universal Studios, the largest sound stage on the lot. They were directed by Mark Rydell ("On Golden Pond"), and produced by Jack Valenti for the Motion Picture Association of America. Dudley Moore, Olivia Newton-John, Bette Midler, James Woods, and even Pee-wee Herman also filmed anti-drug messages for us.

On the day when Mrs. Reagan made her appearance, she filmed her spot alongside actor Clint Eastwood. Yet hers was more than just a "message" of hope: she was reaching out with a helping hand.

She recognized and wrote that "drug abuse knows no boundaries. It crosses all lines - geographical, racial, political, economic," and "brings danger into the lives of our most precious resource our children." She raised awareness in America that it is up to us to protect children and provide for them a drug-free environment in which to live; that we must "act now, not tomorrow, or the next day."

Her words have stayed with me for almost 20 years. In fact, today when I ask children who were born well after Mrs. Reagan was our First Lady what they should do if someone offers them drugs, they respond in unison: "JUST SAY NO!" I consider that a testament to their parents, their teachers, and to the great efforts of a woman who cares deeply about all children.

In recent years I have been fortunate to be invited to a few events also attended by the former First Lady: she's still as elegant as ever. Following President Reagan's passing, Mrs. Reagan sent me a note thanking me for my "service, sacrifice, and dedication." I was dumbfounded—I am the one owes thanks to her! She and her breadth of good works continue to be an inspiration to me and millions of others.

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