Former First Lady Betty Ford says of the new television movie about her that comes up Monday on ABC: "It's about a family that's devastated by something they don't understand--alcoholism. It's also about a family that has lots of love and unity."
Gena Rowlands, who portrays Mrs. Ford, said the word that kept coming to her mind during the filming was "courage."
"Cancer, mastectomy, alcoholism . . . this whole thing must be very hard for her," said Rowlands of the former First Lady's decision to let the story of these personal troubles be told in a TV movie. "I think the reason she's doing it is that she has a genuine feeling of obligation to people."
Indeed, producer David Wolper sought the rights to "The Betty Ford Story" for several years before Mrs. Ford agreed. Wolper finally convinced her that by telling of her battle with chemical addiction, others could be inspired to get help.
The two-hour film, airing 9-11 p.m. Monday, co-stars Joseph Sommer as Gerald Ford.