Childhood and Education – Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 191 1, in Tamping, Illinois, to John Edward “Jack” Reagan and Nellie Wilson Reagan. His father nicknamed him “Dutch,” saying he resembled “a fat little Dutchmen. ” During Reggae’s early childhood, his family lived in a series of towns, finally settling in Dixon, Illinois, in 1920, where Jack Reagan opened a shoe store. In 1928, Ronald Reagan graduated from Dixon High School, where he was an athlete and student body president and performed in school plays.
Enrolling at Eureka College in Illinois on an athletic scholarship, Reagan majored in economics and sociology. There, he played football, ran track, captained the swim team, served as student council president and acted in school productions. After graduating in 1 932, he found work as a radio sports announcer in Iowa. Hollywood Career and Marriages – In 1937, Reagan signed a seven-year contract with the Warner Brothers movie studio. Over the next three decades, he appeared in more than 50 films.
Among his best-known roles was that of Notre Dame Football star George Chip in the 1940 biopic Knuth Reckon, All American. Another noTABLE role was in the 1 942 film Kings Row, in which Reagan portrays an accident victim who wakes up to discover his legs have been amputated and cries out, “Where’s the rest of me? ” In 1940, Reagan married actress Jane Woman, with whom he had daughter Maureen and adopted a son, Michael. The couple divorced in 1948. During World War II, Reagan was disqualified from combat duty due to poor eyesight and spent his time in the Army making training films.
He left the military ranked as a captain. As Reggae’s film career began to plateau, he landed a job as host of the weekly television drama series The General Electric Theater, in 1954. Part of his responsibility as host was to tour the United States as a public relations representative for General Electric. It was during this time that his political sews shifted from liberal to conservative; he led pro-business discussions, speaking out against excessive government regulation and wasteful spending central themes of his future political career.
Governorship and Presidential Bid – Reagan stepped into the national political spotlight in 1964, when he gave a well-received televised speech for Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, a prominent conservative. Two years later, in his first race for public office, Reagan defeated Democratic incumbent Edmund “Pat” Brown Sir. By almost 1 million votes, winning the California governorship. He was re-elected to a second term in 1970. Reagan finally received his party’s nod in 1980.
In that year’s general election, he defeated Democrat incumbent Presidential Carter, winning the Electoral College (489 to 49) and capturing almost 51 percent of the popular vote. At age 69, Reagan was the oldest person elected to the u S. Presidency. 1981 Inauguration and Assassination Attempt In his inaugural speech on January 20, 1981 Reagan rhetorically announced that “government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem. ” He called for an era of national renewal and hoped that America would again be “a beacon of hope for those who do not have freedom.
He and his wife, Nancy Reagan, ushered in a new era of glamour to the White House, with designer fashions and a major redecoration of the executive mansion. 1984 Re-Election – In November 1 984, Ronald Reagan was re-elected in a landslide, defeating Democratic challenger Walter Mondale. Reagan carried 49 Of the 50 U. S. States in the election, and received 525 of 538 electoral votes?the largest number ever won by an American presidential candidate. His second term was tarnished by the Iran-contra affair, a convoluted “arms-for-hostages” deal with Iran to funnel money toward anti-communist insurgencies in
Central America. Though he initially denied knowing about it, Reagan later announced that it was a mistake. Later Years and Death – In November 1994, Reagan revealed in a handwritten letter to the American people that he had recently been diagnosed with Alchemist’s disease. Nearly a decade later, on June 5, 2004, he died at his Los Angles home at age 93, making him the nation’s longest-lived president at that time. (In 2006, Gerald Ford surpassed him for this title. ) A state funeral was held in Washington, D. C. , and Reagan was later buried on the grounds of his presidential library in California.