With her sleekly-styled hair and outspoken support of her husband, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Ann Romney makes her debut Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention as one in a long line of would-be first ladies.
While the phrase “behind every great man there’s a great woman” may seem quaintly archaic by modern standards, when it comes to presidential biopics, those married to the president can be just as politically and emotionally fierce as the men they stick by — and stand up to.
Here are some memorable Republican first ladies from movie biopics about the Commander-in-Chief:
Joan Allen as Pat Nixon in Nixon
Svelte, high-cheekboned Allen, nary a hair out of place as Richard Nixon’s coifed wife Pat in Oliver Stone’s 1995 biopic Nixon, held her own in the role, opposite Anthony Hopkins as the controversy-plagued 37th U.S. president. She landed an Oscar nomination, along with Hopkins. “It took me a long time to fall in love with you, Dick, and it doesn’t make you happy. You want them to love you. They never will,” says Allen, as Nixon, her face as firm as a wall of stone.
Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush in W
Banks tucked her blonde hair underneath a brunette wig to play George W. Bush’s smiling, put-together, librarian wife Laura in Stone’s 2008 satirical biopic W, released before the 2008 presidential election. With Josh Brolin mugging and guffawing as the 43rd president, Banks plays it lighter, with a lively edge.
Ruth Gordon as Mary Todd Lincoln in Abe Lincoln in Illinois
Playing the wife of 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln early in her career, years before her classic loopy turn as a life-loving older gal in 1971’s Harold and Maude, Gordon nailed it as a feisty, independent first lady in 1940’s black-and-white Abe Lincoln in Illinois, directed by John Cromwell. In one scene, wearing a bonnet and cape, her hair slicked down to either side, she lashes out at her husband, “You only want to be rid of me. That’s all you wanted since the day we were married. Anything to get you out of my sight, because you hate me!”