J. Scott Applewhite  /  AP
Nancy Reagan, left, famous for her love of red dresses, and first lady Laura Bush stand together at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as they open an exhibit to promote a heart health campaign for women, in Washington, May 12.
updated 5/12/2005 5:29:04 PM ET 2005-05-12T21:29:04

The unquestioned love of Nancy Reagan’s life was her husband, Ronald. But she’s also had a long-running love affair with red dresses.

She and first lady Laura Bush are promoting a heart health campaign for women centered on those crimson-colored clothes. Called The Heart Truth’s First Ladies Red Dress Collection, it includes a historic medley of scarlet gowns, dresses and suits worn by Mrs. Reagan, Mrs., Bush, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Barbara Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mrs. Reagan and Mrs. Bush unveiled the collection Thursday. The current first lady noted Mrs. Reagan’s love of things red.

“Maybe her passion started when a dashing Ronald Reagan proposed to her in a red upholstered booth at a bistro in Los Angeles,” Mrs. Bush said.

The Heart Truth is a national awareness campaign for women sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Like many women, I assumed that heart disease was a man’s disease,” Mrs. Bush said. In fact, she noted, cardiovascular disease is expected to kill about a half-million women this year, 60,000 more than men. According to the National Institute of Health, heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States.

The dress collection will be exhibited at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts through May 30. Pins in the shape of a red dress are being used to promote the heart health campaign.

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