All articles and pages may contain affiliate links. You can read our disclosure policy here.

Ronald Reagan

Best know for being President of the United States however he had a long movie career before entering politics.

Ronald Reagan

Filmography

1937      

Love Is on the Air

Hollywood Hotel

 

1938      

Sergeant Murphy

Swing Your Lady

Accidents Will Happen

Cowboy from Brooklyn

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse

Boy Meets Girl

Girls on Probation

Brother Rat

Going Places

 

1939      

Secret Service of the Air

Dark Victory

Code of the Secret Service

Naughty but Nice

Hell’s Kitchen

The Angels Wash Their Faces

Smashing the Money Ring

 

1940      

Brother Rat and a Baby

An Angel from Texas

Murder in the Air

Knute Rockne, All American

Tugboat Annie Sails Again

Alice in Movieland

Santa Fe Trail

 

1941      

The Bad Man

Million Dollar Baby

International Squadron

Nine Lives Are Not Enough

 

1942      

Recognition of the Japanese Zero Fighter

Kings Row

Juke Girl

Mister Gardenia Jones

Desperate Journey

Beyond the Line of Duty

 

1943      

Cadet Classification

The Rear Gunner

For God and Country

This Is the Army

 

1945      

Target Tokyo

The Fight for the Sky

The Stilwell Road

Wings for This Man

 

1947      

Stallion Road

That Hagen Girl

The Voice of the Turtle

 

1949      

John Loves Mary

Night Unto Night

The Girl from Jones Beach

The Hasty Heart

It’s a Great Feeling

 

1950      

Louisa

 

1951      

The Big Truth

Storm Warning

The Last Outpost

Bedtime for Bonzo

 

1952      

Hong Kong

The Winning Team

She’s Working Her Way Through College

 

1953      

Tropic Zone

Law and Order

 

1954      

Prisoner of War

Cattle Queen of Montana

 

1955      

Tennessee’s Partner

 

1957      

Hellcats of the Navy

 

1961      

The Young Doctors

 

1963      

Heritage of Splendor

 

1964      

The Killers

Awards

Ronald Reagan was never nominated for an Academy Award.

[from a 1950s interview] Nobody ever “went Hollywood”. They were already that way when they got here. Hollywood just brought it out in them. ~ Ronald Reagan

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in an apartment on the second floor of a commercial building in Tampico, Illinois. He was the younger son of Nelle Clyde (née Wilson; 1883–1962) and Jack Reagan (1883–1941). Jack was a salesman and storyteller. Reagan’s older brother, Neil Reagan (1908–1996), became an advertising executive.

Reagan attended Dixon High School, where he developed interests in acting, sports, and storytelling. His first job involved working as a lifeguard at the Rock River in Lowell Park in 1927. Over a six-year period, Reagan reportedly performed 77 rescues as a lifeguard. He attended Eureka College, a Disciples-oriented liberal arts school, where he became a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, a cheerleader, and studied economics and sociology. While involved, the Miller Center of Public Affairs described him as an “indifferent student”. He majored in economics and sociology and graduated with a C grade. He developed a reputation as a “jack of all trades”, excelling in campus politics, sports, and theater. He was a member of the football team and captain of the swim team. He was elected student body president and led a student revolt against the college president after the president tried to cut back the faculty.

After graduating from Eureka in 1932, Reagan drove to Iowa, where he held jobs as a radio announcer at several stations. He moved to WHO radio in Des Moines as an announcer for Chicago Cubs baseball games. His specialty was creating play-by-play accounts of games using as his source only basic descriptions that the station received by wire as the games were in progress.

While traveling with the Cubs in California in 1937, Reagan took a screen test that led to a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers studios. He spent the first few years of his Hollywood career in the “B film” unit

While sometimes overshadowed by other actors, Reagan’s screen performances did receive many good reviews.

His first screen credit was the starring role in the 1937 movie Love Is on the Air, and by the end of 1939 he had already appeared in 19 films. In 1938 he starred alongside Jane Wyman in Brother Rat. They married in 1940, having a child, Maureen, and adopting a son, Michael. The marriage ended in divorce in 1948

Before Santa Fe Trail in 1940, he played the role of George “The Gipper” Gipp in the film Knute Rockne, All American; from it, he acquired the lifelong nickname “the Gipper”. In 1941 exhibitors voted him the fifth most popular star from the younger generation in Hollywood. Reagan’s favorite acting role was as a double amputee in 1942’s Kings Row, in which he recites the line, “Where’s the rest of me?”, later used as the title of his 1965 autobiography. Many film critics considered Kings Row to be his best movie, though the film was condemned by The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther. Although Reagan considered Kings Row the film that “made me a star”, he was unable to capitalize on his success because he was ordered to active duty two months after its release, and never regained the “stardom” which he had previously enjoyed

After the outbreak of war, Reagan, an officer in the Army Reserve, was ordered to active duty in April 1942. Upon the approval of the Army Air Force (AAF), he was transferred to the AAF and was assigned to the First Motion Picture Unit (officially, the 18th AAF Base Unit) in Culver City, California. In January 1943, he was sent to the Provisional Task Force Show Unit of This Is The Army at Burbank, California. He returned to the First Motion Picture Unit after completing this duty and was promoted to Captain. By the end of the war, his units had produced some 400 training films for the AAF including Beyond the Line of Duty, The Rear Gunner, and This is the Army.

Following military service Reagan resumed his film work. In 1947 Reagan was elected to the position of president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). He was subsequently chosen by the membership to serve seven additional one-year terms, from 1947 to 1952 and in 1959. Reagan led SAG through eventful years that were marked by labor-management disputes, the Taft-Hartley Act, House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings and the Hollywood blacklist era. Reagan continued to become more involved in politics by promoting SAG’s values and being the President of SAG.

He met fellow star Nancy Davis in 1950 and they married two years later; the marriage, one of the closest in U.S. political history, resulted in two children: Patti and Ron. Reagan continued his acting career, making films such as The Voice of the Turtle, Bedtime for Bonzo, The Winning Team and Cattle Queen of Montana. Though an early critic of television, Reagan landed fewer film roles in the late 1950s and decided to join the medium. He was hired as the host of General Electric Theater, a series of weekly dramas that became very popular. His contract required him to tour General Electric (GE) plants 16 weeks out of the year, often demanding of him 14 speeches per day. Eventually, the ratings for Reagan’s show fell off and GE dropped Reagan in 1962. Reagan, a liberal Democrat, soon began to embrace the conservative views of General Electric’s officials, in particular those of Lemuel Boulware. The GE executive championed the core tenets of modern American conservatism: free markets, anticommunism, lower taxes, and limited government. After General Electric Theatre, Reagan became a politician. Reagan’s entertainment career both aided and hurt his political career. Critics suggested that actors such as Reagan had no place in politics because of a lack of knowledge. However, Reagan’s image of a strong, true American, which stemmed from his roles in films, drew support for his campaigns. The idea of Reagan being an actor who so easily stepped into politics also helped him gain support from voters who were tired of traditional politics. In 1980 he was elected President of the United States.

Reagan died of pneumonia, complicated by Alzheimer’s disease, at his home in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles, California, on the afternoon of June 5, 2004.

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 conducted by Pastor Michael Wenning. 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 U.S. president to lie in state; in thirty-four hours, 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 former President George H. W. Bush and President George W. Bush. Also in attendance were Mikhail Gorbachev, and many world leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prince Charles, representing his mother Queen Elizabeth II, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and interim presidents Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, and Ghazi al-Yawer of Iraq.

After the funeral, the Reagan entourage was flown back to the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, where another service was held, and President Reagan was interred. At the time of his death, Reagan was the longest-lived president in U.S. history, having lived 93 years and 120 days (2 years, 8 months, and 23 days longer than John Adams, whose record he surpassed). He was the first U.S. president to die in the 21st century, and his was the first state funeral in the United States since that of President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973.

Fan Favorite Films You Can Stream Online Now

(click movie poster for more information)

In Our Bookstore