As the 40th President of the United States, the former movie star has been dubbed the “Great Communicator” for his ability to communicate with ordinary Americans and give them hope and optimism for their own future and that of their country. Despite his long-standing opposition to the “big” government, he has been credited with restoring confidence in the US government and the presidency after a long period of disillusionment over Nixon, Vietnam, and economic hardship under Carter. But before his Hollywood celebrity years, and long before Washington, Ronald Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, a small town in northwestern Illinois.
Although his family was poor, Reagan later remembered his as an idyllic childhood. After playing football in high school and college (at Eureka College), he graduated during the Great Depression with few prospects for employment. He soon began working on radio in Iowa, broadcasting for football and other sports. While on a spring training trip with the Chicago Cubs to Los Angeles, Reagan came into contact with a former WHO colleague in Des Moines, who put him in touch with a Hollywood agent, and in 1937 Warner Brothers offered Reagan a seven-year contract starting at $ 200 per week. His first role was far from over the top: he played a radio reporter in the 1937 B movie Love is in the air, and the Hollywood Reporter called him “a natural”.
After a few years as what he later called “the Errol Flynn of B-pictures,” Reagan won the role he would become known for as Notre Dame University footballer George Gipp in Knute Rockne – All-American. The film tells the story of the legendary Notre Dame trainer Knute Rockne (played by Pat O’Brien), who died in a plane crash in 1931. Gipp was the walk-on who became Rockne’s star player and is died of a throat infection two weeks. after his last game.
In addition to making over 50 films, Reagan was heavily involved in the Screen Actors Guild during his years in Hollywood, serving six terms as president and leading the union through some of the film industry’s most volatile years. . In 1947, as accusations of communism raged in Hollywood, Reagan testified before the House Anti-American Activities Committee and declined to name the names of suspected Communist sympathizers (although an FBI file later revealed that he had in fact named people in secret). Around the same time, Reagan’s personal life was in turmoil: his wife, actress Jane Wyman, divorced in 1948; his growing involvement in the Screen Actors Guild was reportedly cited as a factor in the divorce. Reagan married Nancy Davis, also an actress, in 1952; they had two children, Patricia and Ronald. (Reagan and Wyman also had a daughter, Maureen, and adopted a son, Michael.) Nancy Reagan would become her husband’s closest confidante and advisor during his future political career.
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In the early 1950s, Reagan became familiar to a much larger audience when he began hosting the General Electric Theater television show; he also traveled the country giving speeches as a spokesperson for the company GE. Although he was a registered Democrat during his years in Hollywood, he changed his political affiliation to a Republican in 1962. Two years later, Reagan made his debut on the political scene with a high-profile speech at a fundraiser for Barry Goldwater that year. Republican presidential candidate. In Kings Row (1941), Reagan had played a hero of a small town whose legs are amputated. He considered it his best movie and made a line out of it – “Where’s the rest of me?” – for the title of his first autobiography, published in 1965, before his candidacy for governor of California. The following year, Reagan defeated incumbent California Governor Pat Brown by nearly a million votes, taking the next step on the road to the White House.
After two terms as governor of California, he bid for the Republican presidential ticket in 1976, losing to President Gerald Ford. In 1980, he won the nomination and defeated incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter to become president, ushering in a new era of conservatism in American politics.
At 69, Reagan was the oldest man in history to take office as President at the time. His Hollywood career, considered a weakness early in his political life, has proven to be arguably one of his greatest assets. As president, he projected optimism and weathered setbacks with such success that he became known as “President Teflon”. Its foreign policy legacy, tarnished after the Iran-Contra affair, was redeemed in the eyes of many at the end of the Cold War and the opening of relations with the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. long term of his tax cuts and his “Reaganomics” may have been questionable, but he managed to maintain his popularity throughout, leaving the White House in the hands of his staunch vice president, George HW. Bush in 1988 and maintaining a high approval rating. Six years later, Reagan made the sobering announcement that he had Alzheimer’s disease, which would end his public career. He died on June 5, 2004, at the age of 93.