By Pat Butler, longtime friend and adviser to President Ford
Here are some things you may not know about President Ford:
President Ford’s favorite TV show as president was “Police Woman” with Angie Dickinson.
Favorite singer: Vikki Carr.
Favorite comedian (besides Bob Hope): Flip Wilson, a frequent WH guest.
Favorite drink: gin and tonic, which he gave up when Betty stopped drinking. He also made a deal with Susan that if she’d stop smoking cigarettes, he’d stop smoking his pipe. She did, and he did.
He turned into a pretty good golfer after leaving the WH, was proud that he could almost “shoot his age.” At 91, he told me he could still shoot his age, but now it only took him 9 holes to do it.
Cary Grant introduced Mrs. Ford on the last night of GOP convention in ‘76. It was his first and only live appearance on TV in his life. He was a nervous wreck (I was his handler in Kansas City and helped him write his speech, and we were friends for the rest of his life), but his regard for Mrs. Ford made him take what he considered the biggest risk of his professional life at age 72.
Jack Marsh, counselor to the president, had been a Democratic congressman from VA during Ford’s house days. Marsh was the advisor GRF trusted most, and when Reagan was elected in 1980, the only thing Ford asked him to do was make Marsh secretary of the army. Reagan did, and Jack became longest serving secretary of the army in history.
I sent President Ford a note on the 30th anniversary of joining his staff (April 2005), and he called the next week to thank me for my service, congratulate me on what I’d done since, talk about our families, and bemoan the current state of Republican Party, which he said he didn’t recognize.
Bob Woodward and I did a documentary on the presidency for the History Channel in January 2005, and went to Rancho Mirage in fall 04 to interview GRF. He walks off elevator at Annenberg Center, we escort a very old man to the studio, but as soon as the camera goes on, he’s President Ford of old, in command of facts, incisive, blunt, terrific for the half hour we had him on camera. As soon as the camera was off, he became an old man again.
One of the Ford kids will probably read a passage beginning “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” This is the President’s favorite verse, the one to which the Bible was opened when he took the oath of office.