-Ronald Wilson Reagan, (1911-2004), was elected president of the United States in 1980 and won a second term in 1984. Reagan, a Republican, had served two terms as governor of California before he became president.
-Boyhood. Reagan was born on Feb. 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois. His parents were John Edward Reagan, a shoe salesman, and Nelle Wilson Reagan, a homemaker and occasional shop clerk. When Ronald was a baby, his father nicknamed him Dutch. The boy had one brother, John Neil (1909-1996), nicknamed Moon, who was an advertising executive.
- Education. When Dutch was 9 years old, he and his family settled in Dixon, Illinois, where the boy finished elementary school and went to high school. In high school, he played football and basketball and took part in track and swimming meets. He appeared in several school plays and was elected president of the student council. During the summers, he worked as a lifeguard.
-Motion-picture star. After graduating from Eureka College in 1932, Reagan became a sports announcer for radio station WOC in Davenport, Iowa. That year, he moved to station WHO in Des Moines, Iowa. He broadcast play-by-play accounts of major league baseball games, Big Ten football games, and other sports events.
In 1937, Reagan traveled to southern California to report on the spring training season of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. There, he made a screen test for Warner Brothers, one of the largest motion-picture studios. The studio signed him to an acting contract.
-Union leader. In 1947, Reagan became president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), a union that represents film performers. He was elected to five consecutive terms, serving until 1952. During that time, which was a period of strong anti-Communist feeling in the United States, Reagan worked to remove suspected Communists from the movie industry. In 1949 and 1950, he served as chairman of the Motion Picture Industry Council, a public relations organization devoted to improving the public image of the film business.
-Family life. Reagan met actress Jane Wyman (1914-2007) while they both were appearing in Warner Brothers films. They were married on Jan. 25, 1940. The couple had a daughter, Maureen Elizabeth (1941-2001), and adopted a son, Michael Edward (1945-...). The marriage ended in divorce in 1948.
In 1951, while Reagan was president of SAG, he met actress Nancy Davis (July 6, 1921-...). Davis had complained to SAG that she was receiving unwanted Communist literature in the mail. She and Reagan were married on March 4, 1952. The couple had two children, Patricia Ann (1952-...) and Ronald Prescott (1958-...).
-Entry into politics. Reagan had long taken an active interest in politics. At first, he held liberal views and belonged to the Democratic Party. In the 1948 presidential election, he campaigned for President Harry S. Truman, the Democratic candidate. During the 1950's, Reagan's views became more conservative. He campaigned as a Democratic supporter of several Republican candidates, including presidential nominees Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 and Richard M. Nixon in 1960. In 1962, Reagan became a Republican.
-Governor of California. Reagan first won public office in 1966, when he was elected governor of California. He defeated the state's Democratic governor, Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, by a landslide.
-Presidential candidate. In 1968, Reagan had campaigned briefly for the Republican presidential nomination but did not win. In 1976, he tried again. He attracted much support among conservatives and won many delegates in the South and West. In an attempt to appeal to more liberal and Eastern delegates, he announced that his choice for vice president would be Senator Richard S. Schweiker of Pennsylvania. Schweiker was known for his liberal Senate record. But Reagan lost the nomination to President Gerald R. Ford by a narrow margin.
In July 1980, Reagan easily won the nomination for president on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Detroit. At his request, Bush was nominated for vice president. The Democrats renominated President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter F. Mondale. Anderson chose former Governor Patrick J. Lucey of Wisconsin as his running mate.
-The 1980 election. In the presidential campaign, Reagan charged that Carter had failed to deal effectively with inflation and unemployment. Carter argued that Reagan's plans would lead to still more inflation. He also questioned whether Reagan could balance the budget, reduce taxes, and increase defense spending all at the same time. In the election, Reagan defeated Carter and Anderson by a wide margin. He received about 44 million popular votes to about 35 million popular votes for Carter and about 51/2 million for Anderson. Reagan carried 44 states for a total of 489 electoral votes, while Carter carried only 6 states and the District of Columbia for 49 electoral votes.
-Life in the White House. The Reagans took great pleasure in hosting official receptions and other formal functions in the White House. They created a warm and elegant atmosphere and restored much of the traditional pageantry that President Jimmy Carter had ended. The Reagans brought back the trumpeters who announced the president and the first lady and welcomed foreign visitors. A color guard once again preceded the entrance of the presidential family and its guests of honor. At state dinners, military social aides accompanied members of the official party. The Reagans often sat at separate tables with their own special guests.
-The 1984 election. Reagan and Bush easily won renomination at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas. The Democrats nominated former Vice President Walter F. Mondale for president and Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York for vice president. In the campaign, Reagan stressed the nation's economic growth, the decline in unemployment, and the low rate of inflation. Mondale charged that Reagan's economic policies had greatly favored the wealthy and that the president's foreign policies had increased tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. In the election, Reagan and Bush won in a landslide.
-The Iran-contra affair. Reagan and his administration lost prestige because of sales of United States weapons to Iran and use of the profits to help Nicaraguan rebels, known as contras. Both activities were secret operations but became widely known to the public in November 1986.
-Death. In 1994, Reagan revealed that he was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The disease causes an increasing loss of memory and other mental processes. Reagan died on June 5, 2004, at his home in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles. He died of pneumonia complicated by Alzheimer's disease. He is buried on the grounds of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. In 2009, a statue of Reagan was installed in the United States Capitol as part of the National Statuary Hall Collection.
Boyarsky, Bill. "Reagan, Ronald Wilson." World Book Student. World Book, 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2012.
Has any president not liked living in the White House?