Ronald Reagan’s Lady in Red

Sheila Tate, First Lady Nancy Reagan’s Press Secretary and Press Secretary for candidate and President-elect George H.W. Bush in 1988, joins Tim to discuss her new book “Lady in Red” about Nancy Reagan, her impact on Ronald Reagan’s presidency and her own legacy.

Nancy and Ronald Reagan at their ranch. Photo Courtesy of Crown Publishing

Sheila Tate served as press secretary to First Lady Nancy Reagan from 1981 to 1985, and remained in close contact with her after the Reagan’s returned to California. She spoke with Mrs. Reagan often until her passing in 2016.

In her book, “Lady in Red: An Intimate Portrait of Nancy Reagan,” Sheila provides a glimpse into the personal life of Mrs. Reagan, from her life as First Lady to her relationships and her influence at the seat of power.

Sheila has described Mrs. Reagan as once her boss, but later her friend. Sheila’s first book reveals stories and details of historical proportions, including:

  • The assassination attempt on President Reagan: the personal moments, and subsequent aftermath of that painful time, including his recovery, and Mrs. Reagan’s struggles.
  • An exclusive interview with George Opfer, the First Lady’s lead security Secret Service agent who has never spoken publicly before.
  • The long-goodbye: President Reagan’s fight with Alzheimer’s, how it affected Mrs. Reagan, and his eventual death 15 years after leaving office.
  • The first turbulent year in the White House, Christmastime in Washington, Mrs. Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, and her own family upbringing.

Sheila interviewed friends and politicians who knew Mrs. Reagan best: Chris Wallace, James Baker, George Shultz, Maureen Dowd, and Marlin Fitzwater.

“Lady in Red” features a First Lady who felt it her mission to restore a sense of grandeur and style to the presidency, while playing the roles of wife, mother, protector, host, diplomat and advisor.


About this Episode’s Guest Sheila Tate

Sheila Tate. Photo Courtesy of Crown Publishing

Sheila Tate served as press secretary to First Lady Nancy Reagan from 1981 to 1985. After leaving the White House staff, she co-founded the Washington D.C. public relations firm Powell Tate. Sheila served as press secretary to George H. W. Bush during his successful campaign for the presidency in 1988, and for his transition.

About the Book

By Sheila Tate
Crown Forum