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First Lady Nancy Reagan, joining the ranks of generals...

By ELLIS E. CONKLIN

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- First Lady Nancy Reagan, joining the ranks of generals and movie stars, was honored Thursday at a Beverly Hills gala as the 10th recipient of the USO Distinguished American Award.

Mrs. Reagan was chosen to receive the award primarily because of her work combating drug abuse and her involvement in assisting the families of soliders and civilians missing in foreign countries, said Al Ginepra, a spokesman for the USO.

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In her comments at the gala, Mrs. Reagan, 61, was expected to speak about the nation's volunteers and the need for people to be aware that the similar social problems exist in civilian and military life, Ginepra said.

Dolores Hope, wife of comedian Bob Hope and the USO award winner in 1983, was to present the trophy -- a crystal-mounted eagle -- to the first lady at a $250-a-plate dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Hope won the award in 1979, and last year it was shared by television producer Norman Lear and entertainer Johnny Grant.

Other winners have included Gens. Omar Bradley and Jimmy Doolittle, former President Gerald Ford, Edgar Magnin and Dr. Glenn Dumke, a prominent California educator.

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Hollywood celebrities scheduled to attend the dinner -- several of them longtime friends of the Reagans -- included Jimmy Stewart, Robert Stack, Sid Charisse, Tony Curtis, Cary Grant, George Peppard, Connie Stevens, Fred MacMurray, Loretta Young and Ginger Rogers.

Mrs. Reagan arrived in Los Angeles Wednesday and reportedly visited with her children, Patty and Maureen Reagan, and other friends in Southern California. On Tuesday, she met with Princess Margaret in Arizona.

The first lady spent two nights at the Beverly Wilshire, and was to return to Washington Friday morning.

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