Comedian Chevy Chase says he received treatment for an addiction to painkillers after being inspired by former US First Lady Betty Ford.
Chase portrayed Gerald Ford as an accident-prone president
The Fletch star, who became famous for impersonating President Ford, attended a Betty Ford clinic in the 1980s.
"If it hadn't been for the courage of Mr Ford's wife, Betty, for admitting to an alcohol problem, I would never have received the help I needed," he said.
Chase was writing in the New York Times following Mr Ford's death at Christmas.
The comedian was linked to the former president after portraying him as a bumbling and accident-prone klutz on the TV programme Saturday Night Live in the 1970s.
He said he had been "bombarded" with requests to comment on his relationship with Mr Ford in recent weeks, but had declined until now out of respect for the family.
Sense of humour
Chase sought rehabilitation in a Betty Ford clinic in the 1980s to kick a painkiller habit after suffering back problems.
"During my short stay there," he wrote, "I often saw Mrs Ford personally surveying the clinic and generously offering a helping hand".
He was later invited to lunch with the Ford family, and noted that the president had a sense of humour about his reputation for clumsiness, joking that he would not operate a video recorder in Chase's presence in case he got electrocuted.
Mr Ford, who was president from 1974 to 1977, died on 26 December in California.
Aged 93, he was the longest-living US president.