Betty Ford/

You know, it's kind of hard to tell an independent woman what to do

First Lady Betty Ford promoted a number of worthy causes, during her husband Gerald Ford’s presidency in the 1970s.

When she made a candid declaration about her own personal life, it led to a movement that has supported many people through difficult times. Betty revealed that she had become addicted to pain-killing tranquilisers and alcohol. She had already received a great deal of public sympathy after it emerged she was also facing a separate battle with breast cancer.

After her husband left office, she went into the Long Beach naval hospital and received medical treatment for her problems. In 1982, using funds courted from wealthy donors, she founded the Betty Ford Centre in Rancho Mirage, California, to help treat people affected by drug or/and alcohol addiction. Today, there are such centres all over the world, and Betty Ford’s fame probably exceeds that of her husband.

President Bill Clinton said of her: “I know what it's like to see good, fine people stare into the abyss of their own personal despair and will be forever grateful. She showed them it was not wrong for a good person and a strong person to be imperfect and ask for help.”