Elaine Lucille Edwards (née Schwartzenburg; March 8, 1929 – May 14, 2018) was an American politician from Louisiana.
Edwards was a Democratic member of the United States Senate in 1972 appointed by her husband, Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, following the death of Allen Ellender. She was the First Lady of Louisiana for twelve non-consecutive years from 1972 to 1980 and again from 1984 to 1988, making her the state's longest-serving First Lady. In her later years, she was a small fashion businesswoman and a low-profile soap opera actress based in New York City.
Political party Democratic
Spouse Edwin Edwards (m. 1949; div. 1989)
Edwards was born in Marksville, the seat of Avoyelles Parish, to Errol Leo Schwartzenburg (1909–1999) and Myrl Dupuy Schwartzenburg (1907–2001). Elaine had two brothers, Frank (1928–2013), and Ralph (born 1936).
She married Edwin Edwards in 1949. An observer noted that Elaine Edwards "wanted the opposite of what Edwin wanted. She hated the fishbowl of politics." Both graduated from Marksville High School.Discussing her marriage in 1984, Edwards said: "All I wanted to do was get married and have babies and keep house."
On August 1, 1972, after the death of Allen Ellender, Edwin Edwards appointed Elaine to the U.S. Senate to serve the remaining few months of Ellender's term.
In reaction to her Senate appointment, Edwards said: "This is a marvelous opportunity, and I accept it. But let's have no misgivings. I’m not a United States senator". Edwards did not seek re-election.
During the 1976 presidential election campaign, Elaine endorsed Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter, while her husband first endorsed California governor Jerry Brown, and later endorsed Carter after Brown failed to obtain the nomination.
In 1983, Edwin Edwards was re-elected as Governor thus making Elaine first lady again this time serving until 1988.
After her senate tenure, Edwards owned a small business producing custom-made dresses and would continue this business even while serving as first lady during her husband’s third term in the 1980s.
She moved to New York City in the 1990s to find occasional work as a soap opera actress.
Personal life and death
Edwin and Elaine Edwards divorced in 1989 after forty years of marriage. The couple had four children, two daughters and two sons.
Elaine Edwards died on May 14, 2018, at her daughter's home in Denham Springs, Louisiana, while suffering from respiratory problems.
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