BrowseBiography
 Biography by letter : A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9
Search in :
Ronald Reagan  picture, image, poster
Ronald Reagan

Date of birth : 1911-02-06
Date of death : 2004-06-05
Birthplace : Tampico, Illinois, USA
Nationality : American
Category : Politics
Last modified : 2010-05-27

Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989) and the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975).

Born in Tampico, Illinois, Reagan moved to Los Angeles, California in the 1930s. He began a career as an actor, first in films and later television, appearing in 52 movie productions and gaining enough success to become a household name. Though largely a B film actor, some of his most notable roles are in Knute Rockne, All American and Kings Row. Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and later spokesman for General Electric (GE); his start in politics occurred during his work for GE. Originally a member of the Democratic Party, he switched to the Republican Party in 1962. After delivering a rousing speech in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential candidacy in 1964, he was persuaded to seek the California governorship, winning two years later and again in 1970. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976, but won both the nomination and election in 1980.

Working his way from an actor to becoming the 40 th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan adopted a conservative-republican policy after he saw the rise of national debt, unemployment, and a weakened and under-funded military. His policies and staunch anti-communism practices would gain popularity. He was regarded as the president who finally brought down the Soviet Union.


Young Ronald’s parents were regular middle-class US citizens attempting to live the American Dream. His father was a shoe salesman and his mother attended to the duties of the house. His father was also an alcoholic and resulted in the family having to move a lot, finally settling in Illinois. As a senior in high school, he was elected the class president, was involved in drama, and played football. He went on to receive a BA in sociology, but pursued a career in radio broadcasting and earned a spot as a sportscaster broadcasting of Chicago Cub’s games.


On a trip to California, he began acting with Warner Bros. in small roles. His movies included The Hasty Heart and Brother Rat. He married Jayne Wyman and the two had two children together. They were later divorced and Reagan married Nancy Reagan, who would see her husband through thick and thin, both in the White House and after in illness.


Ronald Reagan went on to serve as president of the Screen Actor’s Guild and worked alongside the Committee of Un-American Activities and helped in the blacklisting of several actors and directors. He also supported Nixon in his campaign to become governor of California. In 1966, Reagan served two terms as governor of California before deciding to run for President of the United States in the latter 1970s. With experience behind him now and a public personal as another regular guy, he was elected twice, with George Bush as his Vice-President.


In one of the most dramatic occurrences in office, Reagan was shot in the chest while leaving his hotel in Washington D.C. He recovered, but lost several months of policy reformation he had wanted to attempt at the start of his presidency. Through his second term, Reagan was inundated with problems with a rising inflation and a widening gap between rich and poor. He attempted to gain support for his Star Wars Program that worked to develop laser-technology to shoot incoming Russian nuclear weapons. He was also involved in other skirmishes abroad that were often criticized by liberals.


Reagan died at his home in Bel Air, California on June 5, 2004. A short time after his death, Nancy Reagan released a statement saying: "My family and I would like the world to know that President Ronald Reagan has died after 10 years of Alzheimer's Disease at 93 years of age. We appreciate everyone's prayers." President George W. Bush declared June 11 a National Day of Mourning, and international tributes came in from around the world. Reagan's body was taken to the Kingsley and Gates Funeral Home in Santa Monica, California later in the day, where well-wishers paid tribute by laying flowers and American flags in the grass. On June 7, his body was removed and taken to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where a brief family funeral was held. His body lay in repose in the Library lobby until June 9; over 100,000 people viewed the coffin.

On June 9, Reagan's body was flown to Washington, D.C. where he became the tenth United States president to lie in state. In the thirty-four hours that it lay there, 104,684 people filed past the coffin.

On June 11, a state funeral was conducted in the Washington National Cathedral, and presided over by President George W. Bush. Eulogies were given by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and both Presidents Bush. Also in attendance were Mikhail Gorbachev, and many world leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and interim presidents Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, and Ghazi al-Yawer of Iraq.

Legacy


Reagan's legacy is mixed, with supporters pointing to a more efficient and prosperous economy and a peaceful end to the Cold War. Critics argue that his economic policies caused huge budget deficits, quadrupling the United States national debt, and that the Iran-Contra affair lowered American credibility. As time has passed, he has generally come to be viewed in a more positive light, and ranks highly among presidents in many public opinion polls. In presidential surveys he has consistently been ranked in the first and second quartiles, with more recent surveys generally ranking Reagan in the first quartile of U.S. presidents.

Mark Weisbrot, co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said that Reagan's "economic policies were mostly a failure", and Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post stated that Reagan was "a far more controversial figure in his time than the largely gushing obits on television would suggest". However, Edwin Feulner, President of the Heritage Foundation, said that Reagan "helped create a safer, freer world" and said of his economic policies: "He took an America suffering from 'malaise'... and made its citizens believe again in their destiny."

Many conservative and liberal scholars agree that Reagan has been the most influential president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, leaving his imprint on American politics, diplomacy, culture, and economics. "As of this writing, among academic historians, the Reagan revisionists—who view the 1980s as an era of mixed blessings at worst, and of great forward strides in some renditions—hold the field", reports Rossinow (2007).

The first generation of writing about Reagan comprised studies on the right that approached hagiography, and on the left a devil theory, all relying on popular journalism for their facts. A second generation has emerged, based on newly available documents from the archives, that provides a much more sophisticated and complex view. The scholars of the second generation have reached a consensus, as summarized by British historian M. J. Heale, who finds that scholars now concur that Reagan rehabilitated conservatism, turned the nation to the right, practiced a pragmatic conservatism that balanced ideology and the constraints of politics, revived faith in the presidency and in American self respect, and contributed to victory in the Cold War.


View the full website biography of Ronald Reagan .
Browsebiography computer mode