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Growing up Reagan

Patti Davis
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Larry talks with Patti Davis

NAME: Patricia Ann Davis

BORN: October 21, 1952

BIRTHPLACE: Los Angeles, California

(CNN) -- Patti Davis spent much of her life avoiding the shadow of her famous father, Ronald Reagan, only later to move closer to the former president as he fought a losing battle with Alzheimer's disease.

As a young woman, the only daughter of Ronald and Nancy Reagan showed her disapproval of her father's conservative brand of politics when she dropped her father's surname in favor of her mother's maiden name.

During the following years, she reportedly dabbled with drugs, openly disagreed with her father's stances on abortion, the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons, and posed as a Playboy cover model.

In 1986, Davis chose a pen as her political sword and published "Home Front," a novel that told a familiar-sounding story of a daughter who grows up within a powerful political family dominated by a strong-willed matriarch.

In another book, "The Way I See It," a 1992 autobiography, Davis described her father as emotionally detached and her mother as abusive. Shortly after the publication of her Playboy photos in 1994, the former president announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Davis has written that, not long before that acknowledgment, her relationship with her parents began to improve. She told interviewers that she had reconciled with her mother and pledged to help look after her father.

In November 2003, Davis wrote an editorial in TIME magazine defending her family against a CBS television movie about their lives. She talked about the results of her changed relationship with her parents. "We will continue to cherish the fact that we walked away from our old battlegrounds and discovered how much better peace feels," she wrote.

At his June 12 burial service in Simi Valley, California, Davis described her father's final moments, saying: "At his last moment, when he opened his eyes, eyes that had not opened for many, many days and looked at my mother, he showed us that neither disease nor death can conquer love."

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