Elizabeth Anania Edwards, who became a national figure in her fight against cancer and as a partner in her husband John's political career, died today. She was 61. Edwards spent much of her life as a little-known Raleigh lawyer and mother. But that all changed when her husband, John Edwards, entered politics as a U.S. senator and became a two-time presidential candidate and the Democratic nominee for vice president. Her husband's career put her in the spotlight as a smart, plain-spoken wife who was a key adviser to her husband.
She later became a figure of sympathy as she battled breast cancer and dealt with her husband's infidelity. And, in the last few years, her public image shifted again: the scorned woman whose husband fathered a child with another woman. She and John Edwards separated at the beginning of 2010 but remained close.
Still, Elizabeth Edwards helped change the way political wives were viewed. She was the self-proclaimed "anti-Barbie" who was comfortable sitting in on campaign strategy meetings, chatting with Oprah on TV, or even going head-to-head with conservative columnist Ann Coulter.