Pity the fool who hasn’t seen the viral White House Christmas photo that continues to make America great again.
It was 1983 when first lady Nancy Reagan plopped down on Mr. T’s lap and planted a kiss on the burly TV personality, who was dressed as Santa Claus for a holiday preview event. More than three decades later, a meme was born.
The quirky picture has been given a digital afterlife, attracting scores of comment on social media networks since the former first lady died of congestive heart failure in March at age 94.
Mr. T spoke this year while mourning the loss of his friend, whom he partnered with on a “Just Say No” drug prevention program. “I was one of the wildest Santa Clauses they ever had,” the “A-Team” actor recalled after her death in an interview. “I had my cut-off sleeves. I had my combat boots on.”
Still, the gentle giant’s striking look wasn’t the only thing that was extraordinary — so were Nancy’s wild pumps.
The wife of President Ronald Reagan was festive from head to toe, teaming a black dress that featured red vertical stripes and collar, with a pair of patent-leather black pumps that was adorned with red piping and large red pompoms.
Nancy was a fan of luxury labels and bespoke pieces — and was a friend to many boldface name designers. Some of the high-end shoes and design houses she has been associated with include Helene Arpels, David E. Evins, Bruno Magli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Monte Napoleone and Rayne, representatives for The Reagan Foundation and Institute shared with Footwear News.
Nick Rayne, whose great-grandfather founded the namesake label in 1899, told FN that the brand had an apt companion in the former first lady.
“Rayne has a long history in the U.K. as shoemakers to the royal family, to the British aristocracy and to a number of foreign royalty, too. In addition, many high profile ladies from the world of politics on both sides of the Atlantic have chosen to wear Rayne shoes as a brand which would be appropriate for someone of their status … And it seems most appropriate that Nancy Reagan was a very distinguished and loyal Rayne customer for many years,” he shared with FN in a statement.
The brand had fans in major old Hollywood movie stars, including Marlene Dietrich, Ginger Rogers, Vivien Leigh, Katharine Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway and Elizabeth Taylor. Nick has helped relaunch the iconic brand in recent years, a representative added.
Chanel was also a favorite of Nancy Reagan, and in 1987 she chose the French label’s nude pumps with black cap toes to fete actor Dom DeLuise, who dressed as the jolly one. Alf, the alien TV character, was a holiday guest, too.
The tradition of inviting celebrities over to dress as Santa was a highlight throughout Reagan’s two terms in office.