Long before becoming Governor of California and President of the United States, Ronald Reagan graced the silver screen.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois. The son of John Edward "Jack" Reagan and Nelle Wilson.
After high school, Ronald Reagan attended Eureka College where he was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity where he majored in economics and sociology. He was very active in sports especially football.
After graduating from Eureka College in 1932, Reagan drove himself to Iowa, where he auditioned for a job at many small-town radio stations. He was hired by the University of Iowa to broadcast home football games for the Hawkeyes.
Aided by his persuasive voice,he moved to WHO radio in Des Moines as an announcer for Chicago Cubs baseball games.
After completing fourteen home-study Army Extension Courses, Ronald Reagan enlisted in the Army Enlisted Reserve, as a private assigned to Troop B, 322nd Cavalry at Des Moines, Iowa. He was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps of the Cavalry on May 25, 1937, and on June 18 was assigned to the 323rd Cavalry.
In 1937, while traveling with the Cubs in California, Ronald Reagan took a screen test in 1937which led to a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers studios.
Ronald Reagan made his movie debut in Love is on the Air (1937).
In 1938, Ronald Reagan co-starred in the film Brother Rat with actress Jane Wyman. They were married on January 26, 1940. Jane and Ronald would make four more movies together: Brother Rat and a Baby (1940), Tugboat Annie Sails Again (1940), An Angel from Texas (1940) and It's a Great Feeling (1949).
Following arguments about Ronald Reagan's political ambitions, Jane Wyman filed for divorce in 1948, citing a distraction due to her husband's Screen Actors Guild union duties, the divorce was finalized in 1949.
Ronald Reagan was ordered to active duty for the first time on April 18, 1942. Due to his nearsightedness, he was classified for limited service only, which excluded him from serving overseas. Reagan was assigned to AAF Public Relations and subsequently to the 1st Motion Picture Unit where he was promoted to First Lieutenant. By the end of the war, his units had produced some 400 training films for the AAF and Ronald Reagan left the service at the rank of Captain.
After his military service in World War II, Ronald Reagan returned to motion pictures.
Between 1937 and 1964, Ronald Reagan made over 50 films including Sergeant Murphy (1938), Boy Meets Girl (1938), Brother Rat (1938), Secret Service of the Air (1939), Dark Victory (1939), Murder in the Air (1940), Knute Rockne All American (1940), Kings Row (1942), Desperate Journey (1942), The Hasty Heart (1949), Bedtime for Bonzo (1951), Law and Order (1953), Cattle Queen of Montana (1954) and his final film The Killers (1964).
Ronald Reagan has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for television. His television credits include Wagon Train, General Electric Theater, The Dick Powell Show and Death Valley Days.
Ronald Reagan was the first to be elected to the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild and would later serve as President.
In 1949, Ronald Reagan met actress Nancy Davis. She contacted him in his capacity as president of the Screen Actors Guild to help her with issues regarding her name appearing on a communist blacklist in Hollywood (she had been mistaken for another Nancy Davis). The couple married in 1952 and were married 52 years until his death.
Ronald Reagan was originally a Democrat and an admirer of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and supporter of the New Deal. During the 1950s, his political leanings began to shift more conservatively. As a result, he endorsed the presidential candidacies of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 as well as Richard Nixon in 1960 while remaining a Democrat. In 1962, Ronald Reagan formally switched to the Republican Party.
California Republicans were impressed with Reagan's political views and charisma after his "Time for Choosing" speech, they nominated him for Governor of California in 1966. He was elected as Governor of California and served until 1975.
In 1976, Ronald Reagan challenged incumbent President Gerald Ford in a bid to become the Republican Party's candidate for president. In 1980 he successfully gained the nomination of the Republican party and won the 1980 Presidential election. He would serve as President of the United States until 1989.
On March 30, 1981, Reagan, along with his press secretary James Brady and two others, were shot by a would-be assassin, John Hinckley, Jr. Missing Reagan's heart by less than one inch, the bullet instead pierced his left lung.
Ronald Reagan was the first and only President of the United states to be divorced. He was also the first and only President to have been a member of a Union. To date, Ronald Reagan is the oldest man elected to President of the United States, being 69 at the time he was elected.
Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004 at the age of 93 due to complications from pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease.
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