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|Top > Society > History > By Region > North America > United States > Presidents > Ronald Reagan|
Portrait of President Ronald Reagan (National Archives)
Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 - June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States, from 1981 - 1989 (a Republican). Reagan was also a noted film actor before entering politics. He is the longest-lived person to have served as President (age 90 as of 2001), as well as the oldest elected President.
Child of an alcoholic father, Reagan developed an early gift for storytelling and acting. He was a first-rate radio announcer of Chicago Cubs games, getting only the bare outlines of the game from a ticker and relying on his imagination and storytelling gifts to flesh out the game. Once in 1934, during the ninth inning of a Cubs-Cardinals game, the wire went dead. Reagan smoothly improvised a fictional play-by-play until the wire was restored.
Reagan had a successful career in Hollywood as a second-rank leading man, as his face and body were as handsome as his voice. In 1940 he played the role of George "The Gipper" Gipp in the film Knute Rockne All American, from which he acquired the nickname the Gipper, which he retained the rest of his life. Reagan himself considered that his best acting work was in Kings Row (1942). Other notable Reagan films include Hellcats of the Navy and the campy Bedtime for Bonzo.
Ronald Reagan began his political life as a supporter of Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal. He gradually became a staunch anti-communist. His political career started through the presidency of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). He gained political stature through radio broadcasts and speaking tours sponsored by the General Electric company. By the 1964 election he was a staunch supporter of conservative Republican Barry Goldwater.
In 1966, he was elected Governor of California. Reagan tried to gain the Republican presidential nomination in 1968, and again in 1976 over the incumbent Gerald Ford but was defeated at the Republican Convention. He succeeded in gaining the Republican nomination in 1980 and went on to be elected President in 1980 and 1984. During his presidency, Reagan survived an assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr. Like most successful politicians, he had great stage presence, and great instincts for how to come across to people and make them like him. Some historians believe that all of those traits would have been meaningless without his perceived enthusiasm for America and strong personal belief in the individual.
He portrayed himself as being:
He is credited with:
Reagan's policies and successes or failures remain controversial in many areas including:
Reagan was in many ways the founder of the modern Republican Party. His redefinition of fiscal conservatism as being focused on tax cuts without regard to a balanced budget ("Reaganomics"), his opposition to progressive taxation, his hostility to environmental protection and abortion, the importance of the Moral Majority and its supporters in his governing coalition, and even his fascination with missile defense have all become trademarks of subsequent Republican leaders, including George W. Bush. Reagan's predecessors such as Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower would not have recognized any of these as part of the Republican platform.
He was the first divorced person to be elected President.
During his administration, there was a major scandal and investigation of his administration's covert support of wars in Iran and Nicaragua in what came to be known as the Iran-Contra Affair. His quick call for the appointment of an Independent Counsel to investigate, and cooperation with counsel, kept the scandals from affecting his presidency.
Reagan suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) was christened March 4, 2001, making it one of the very few US Navy ships to be named for a living person. (The first was USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70); others include USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709), USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23), and USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR-300).)
Supreme court Appointments
Photograph of Newlyweds Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan cutting their wedding cake, 03/04/1952 (National Archives)
Photograph of Governor Ronald Reagan, Ron Junior, Mrs. Reagan, and Patti Davis, ca. 1967 (National Archives)
Photograph of Ronald Reagan in a cowboy hat at Rancho Del Cielo, ca. 1976 (National Archives)
Photograph of Ronald Reagan giving his Acceptance Speech at the Republican National Convention, Detroit, MI, 07/17/1980 (National Archives)
Photograph of President Reagan being sworn in on Inaugural Day, U.S. Capitol, 01/20/1981 (National Archives)
Photograph of Official Portrait of Mrs. Reagan in the Red Room, ca. 02/07/1981 (National Archives)
Photograph of the Four Presidents (Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon) toasting in the Blue Room prior to leaving for Egypt and Sadat's Funeral, 10/08/1981 (National Archives)
Photograph of President Reagan giving the State of the Union Address to Congress, 01/25/1984 (National Archives)
Vice President Bush and President Reagan working in the Oval Office, 07/20/1984 (National Archives)
Photograph of President Reagan, Mrs. Reagan, Vice-President Bush and Mrs. Bush at the Republican National Convention, Dallas, TX, 08/23/1984 (National Archives)
Photograph of President Reagan giving a speech at the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Federal Republic of Germany, 06/12/1987 (National Archives)
Rank: 40th (1981-1989) Predecessor: Jimmy Carter Successor: George Bush Date of Birth: February 6, 1911 Place of Birth: Tampico, Illinois First Lady: Nancy Davis Profession: actor Political Party: Republican Vice President: George Bush
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