Reagan, Ronald, 1911-2004

Alternative names
Birth 1911-02-06
Death 2004-06-05
Spanish; Castilian, English

Biographical notes:

Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004) was the 40th President of the United States and served two terms in office from 1981 to 1989. He was born on February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois, the second son of Nelle Wilson and John Edward ("Jack") Reagan. His father nicknamed him "Dutch" as a baby. In 1920 the family resettled in Dixon, Illinois. In 1928 Reagan graduated from Dixon High School, where he had been student body president, an actor in school plays, and a student athlete. He participated in football, basketball, and track. From 1928 to 1932, he attended Eureka College in Illinois, majoring in economics and sociology. He maintained an interest in drama and politics, serving again as student body president. In 1932 Reagan received a temporary sports broadcasting job with WOC, a small radio station in Davenport, Iowa. Reagan enlisted in the Army Reserve as a Private in 1937. He soon rose to 2nd lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps of the Cavalry. An agent for Warner Brothers met Reagan in Los Angeles and offered him a seven-year acting contract. Reagan played George Gipp in his most acclaimed film, "Knute Rockne -- All American" (l940). While making the film "Brother Rat" he met Jane Wyman, whom he married on January 24, 1940. The couple had a daughter, Maureen, in 1941, and a son, Michael, in 1945. They divorced in 1949. The Army Air Force called Reagan to active duty in 1942 and assigned Lieutenant Reagan to the 1st Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, California, where he made over 400 training films. In July 1943 Reagan rose to the rank of Captain. In December 1945 the Army discharged him. After World War II, he resumed his acting career, making 53 motion pictures and one television movie. In 1952, Reagan accepted a job as a spokesman for the General Electric Company which allowed him to tour the country giving speeches. In that same year, he married Nancy Davis, and their daughter, Patricia, was born. In 1958, they had a son, Ronald Prescott. Although registered as a Democrat, Reagan often campaigned for Republican candidates, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1952 and 1956) and Richard Nixon (1960). Reagan officially changed his party registration to Republican in 1962. In 1964 Reagan''s television address for Barry Goldwater, "A Time for Choosing," launched his political career. A group of California businessmen soon afterward supported Reagan''s candidacy for Governor. Reagan published an autobiography, "Where''s the Rest of Me?", in 1965. In 1966 Reagan defeated incumbent governor Edmund G. ("Pat") Brown in a landslide. His success in the election and as governor made him a leading contender for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1968. Reagan made a tentative run for the presidency, waiting until the Republican National Convention to announce his candidacy. He later joined in unanimously supporting Richard Nixon. In 1970 Reagan was re-elected governor. Reagan announced his candidacy for President in 1979. After winning the party''s nomination, he chose George Bush as his running mate. The platform called for "a new consensus with all those across the land who share a community of values embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, peace, and freedom." In November 1980 Reagan was elected president in a landslide victory over the incumbent, Jimmy Carter. During his presidency, Reagan advanced domestic policies that featured a lessening of federal government responsibility in solving social problems, reducing restrictions on business, and implementing tax cuts. He earned the nickname "the Great Communicator" for his skills with the media. Internationally, Reagan demonstrated opposition to the spread of communism throughout the world and a strong distrust of the Soviet Union, which in 1983 he labeled an "evil empire." He championed a rearmed and strong military and was especially supportive of the MX missile system and the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") program. He died on June 5, 2004.

From the description of Reagan, Ronald, 1911-2004 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10678000


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