Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama's mother, dies aged 86

Michelle Obama's mother Marian Robinson has died, the Obama family has announced.

Robinson, who was 86, was known as the "First Grandma" during her son-in-law Barack Obama's eight years in the White House and played a pivotal role in caring for Barack and Michelle's children, Malia and Sasha.

"With a healthy nudge, she agreed to move to the White House with Michelle and Barack. We needed her. The girls needed her," the family said in a statement.

"And she ended up being our rock through it all," they said, adding that she died "peacefully" on Friday morning.

Born in 1937 in Chicago, Robinson was one of seven children, and her parents separated while she was a teenager.

The former president once called his mother-in-law "the least pretentious person I know."

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According to the family, the White House was never a great fit for Robinson, who preferred spending her time upstairs watching TV rather than meeting the politicians and celebrities passing through 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Robinson got married in 1960 and had two children, including former first lady Mrs Obama.

She also worked as a teacher and a secretary, the family said.

During her eight years at the White House, the family said she would often sneak outside the gates to buy greeting cards at nearby shops and sometimes other customers would tell her she looked like the first lady's mother.

"Oh, I get that a lot," she would smile in reply.