Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1911 - 2004

portrait of Ronald Wilson Reagan
Official presidential portrait
Ronald Wilson Reagan signature

Born: 6 February 1911, Tampico, Illinois
Died: 5 June 2004, Bel Air, Los Angeles, California

Reagan's family lived in several Illinois towns during his youth, and he attended Eureka Collage at Eureka, Illinois. He drove to Iowa and auditioned at several small-town radio stations before developing his skill as a sportscaster. While traveling with the Chicago Cubs in 1937 he took a screen test at Warner Brothers who signed him to a seven year contract. Reagan enlisted in the Army Reserves and was called to active duty but because of his eyesight was assigned to Army Air Force public relations where his unit produced some 400 films. He served as an officer, then president for seven years, of the Screen Actors Guild. He worked for GE as a television host, public spokesperson, and motivational speaker. He came to national political prominence with his speeches on behalf of Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign in 1964. He served two terms (1967-1975) as governor of California before his first presidential bid in 1976 in which he narrowly lost the Republican nomination to Gerald Ford. He defeated Jimmy Carter in 1980 and was reelected in 1984. Five years after he left office he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Based on an early motion picture role he was called "The Gipper." Based on his easy resonance with audiences he was sometimes called "The Great Communicator." I never voted for him, but his successors often made me miss him. And he definitely was quotable.

Biography from Wikipedia and the White House website

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