Author Says Nancy Reagan Had White House Affair With Sinatra
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Nancy Reagan is portrayed in a new biography as a vain, manipulative woman who was promiscuous while she was a Hollywood starlet and carried on a long love affair with Frank Sinatra.
The book, ″Nancy Reagan: the Unauthorized Biography,″ due in book stores Monday, also maintains that Mrs. Reagan pulled the strings in the White House while husband Ronald Reagan performed as her virtual puppet.
″The best thing I could say about Mrs. Reagan is she was a good president,″ the book’s author, Kitty Kelley, said in an interview Sunday.
Miss Kelley, who has written similar exposes on Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, said Mrs. Reagan was her most difficult subject because of the power she wielded over people Kelley wanted to interview.
″I’m kind of scared of her,″ Kelley said. ″I still think she’s very powerful.″
Reagan was asked about the book Sunday as he and Mrs. Reagan prepared to enter church services in suburban Bel-Air.
″I don’t think a church would be the proper place to use the word I would have to use in discussing that,″ he told reporters.
Bill Garber, spokesman for the Reagans, said Mrs. Reagan ″has said nothing to me other than to say she will have nothing to say about the book.″
Kelley says her book was based on 1,000 interviews with estranged family members, disaffected former staffers and Reagan friends and loyalists, as well as numerous journalists who wrote about them over the years.
It is not the first unflattering picture of the Reagans. Daughter Patti Davis was not flattering in her autobiographical novel ″Home Front.″ Former White House chief of staff Donald Regan portrayed Mrs. Reagan as dominating her husband in his memoir ″For The Record.″
Kelley’s book skewers Mrs. Reagan as an ambitious woman who mentally and physically abused her children, manipulated her husband and lied about her age and her own impoverished childhood. Mrs. Reagan was born in 1921, not 1923 as she claims, Kelley says.
Kelley presents a portrait of Mrs. Reagan as a ″Marie Antoinette windup doll,″ so greedy for wealth that she accepted $1 million worth of free fashions and jewelry and wheedled her husband’s friends into paying for all of the couple’s needs - including a mansion to live in while Reagan was governor of California.
Mrs. Reagan never spent money on gifts, the book says, preferring to ″recycle″ gifts given to her and the president. Once, she sent a teddy bear to a grandson as a birthday gift, not realizing the child had left the toy at the White House during a previous visit.
The book relates an affair between Mrs. Reagan and Sinatra that allegedly began in Sacramento after the singer appeared at a Reagan campaign function.
Kelley wrote that after Reagan was elected president, Sinatra often entered the White House by a back door for private lunches with Mrs. Reagan.
″When the first lady was with Frank Sinatra, she was not to be disturbed. For anything. And that included a call from the president himself,″ Kelley wrote.
The book also makes these purported revelations:
-The Reagans, who portrayed themselves as anti-drug crusaders, once smoked marijuana at a party thrown by department store heir Alfred Bloomingdale while Reagan was governor. Sheldon Davis, Bloomingdale’s former executive assistant, recalls Bloomingdale saying the Reagans giggled and said ″they couldn’t see what the big deal was.″
-While pursuing an acting career before marriage, Mrs. Reagan had affairs with several men, including actor Robert Walker and a powerful MGM producer who got her an MGM contract in return for sexual favors.
-In his Hollywood years, Reagan was a notorious womanizer, the book says, sleeping with so many women he once woke up in the bed of a woman whose name he couldn’t remember. Actress Jacqueline Park says her affair with Reagan ended when she became pregnant and he denied the baby was his. Another woman, Selene Walters, accused him of a ″date rape.″
-An aide to Bloomingdale told Kelley he once used a Mafia figure’s influence to solve a state labor problem at Mrs. Reagan’s request while Reagan was governor.
″I’ve always thought of Nancy Reagan as the female version of the Godfather,″ the aide said, ″because she’s certainly a woman who knows how to get things done without leaving any fingerprints.″