Former first lady Nancy Reagan's father was Pittsfield native


While the nation mourns the loss of former first lady Nancy Reagan, Berkshire County can remember her as the daughter of Pittsfield native Kenneth Seymour Robbins.

The only son of a wool company executive from an old Pittsfield family, Robbins could trace his American ancestry back to the Puritans.

He no doubt raised eyebrows when he fell for Edith Prescott Luckett, the vivacious leading lady of the Colonial Theatre's stock acting company.

Raised in Washington, D.C., of modest means, "Lucky" Luckett combined her mother's Virginia Southern charm with a bawdy sense of humor more suited to Mae West.

The couple wed in Vermont in 1916 and settled in New York City. Robbins completed his wartime service, and in 1921 their only child Anne Frances, known as "Nancy," was born.

Robbins wasn't successful at business, where he sold insurance and used cars and failed as a booking agent. With only his small inheritance to fall back on, this didn't satisfy a socially ambitious wife like Luckett.

Tired of city life, Robbins wanted to raise Nancy near his widowed mother. Luckett refused to go along with this idea, and he returned to Pittsfield alone, eventually settling with his mother in New Jersey. They divorced in 1928 and both remarried soon after.

Robbins stayed in touch with Nancy until her teenage years when they fell out over an argument about her mother. As a result, Nancy's stepfather, Chicago neurosurgeon Dr. Loyal Davis, officially adopted her and gave her his last name.

In 1952, Hollywood actress Nancy Davis married dashing actor Ronald Reagan and helped him reach the White House.

Nancy Reagan wasn't the only first lady with a Pittsfield connection. In 1998, Hillary Clinton visited the Colonial Theatre to declare it a National Historic Treasure. Fittingly, she noted Luckett's name on an old playbill.


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