Many Faces Wrapped Into One Big Life
Ronald Reagan was born in the midwest, and moved around a lot. He stood out from his friend’s at an early age by being against the discrimination of African Americans. He later moved to California. In his life, he was a movie star, television star, served in World War 2, became a Captain, the President of a Union, was a staunch supporter of Harry Truman, became a Republican after Kennedy’s death. He served as Governor of California, and eventually became the country’s 40th President. He did all of this while being an incredibly in-love husband, and proud father of five children. He died in 2004 of Alzheimer’s.
Many Faces Wrapped Into One Big Life
Many people from both sides of the aisle consider Ronald Reagan to be one of the best Presidents of the United States, ranked number 11 by credentialed political science scholars (poll, APSA, 2014). Most people view his presidency as the pinnacle of his life, and considering he served this role until he was 77 (weeks away from his 78th birthday of February 6, 1911), this may be the case. But he did so much more in his life; he wasn’t the first World War 2 Veteran to serve as President, but he was certainly the first movie star. He was the first president to change his party before entering office (constitution center.org, 2015). He was born in Illinois, and became the governor of California. He was a full-rounded figure that confounds people to this day. He is, if nothing else, a complex human being that deserves any biography that a college kid could write.
Early in Reagan’s youth, he was an odd man out. In 1922, when no one batted an eye at discrimination against the African American community, 11 year old Reagan was quick to invite a black couple home, where his mom allowed them to stay the night, after they were refused service at a local inn (Kengor, 2006. p. 12). Hey would then go on to act, not in Vaudevilles, but on the big silver screen. From 1937-39 he starred in 19 movies, including roles beside Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart. King’s Row is considered by many to be his breakout role (Friedrich, 1997. pp. 86-89); his acting career was cut short when he was called to serve. He did this without protest, and throughout the war gained the rank of Captain.
When he came back, he continued acting, as many actors and performers did when they were finished with service. After a few flimsily directed movies, he eventually became the President of the Screen Actor’s Guild, a union. He served 7 years in this position, each one marked by the vote of the union members of the time.
In political terms, Reagan started out as an extremely liberal democrat, even by today’s standards (Woodard, 2012). He even stood alongside Harry S Truman, on stage, for his re-election bid, in 1948. Soon after, he met and fell in love with the woman who would become the love of his life, Nancy Davis. From that point on, he made largely unsubstantiated claims that communism was overwhelming the democratic party, and supported Eisenhower. It wouldn’t be until after his presidency that he admitted to supporting Kennedy. Upon Kennedy’s assassination, he quickly joined the Republican party, though he didn’t change many of his old views.
His presidency had economic ups and downs, but overall, he did statistically well compared to other Republican Presidents. His biggest struggle was in foreign affairs and his “war on drugs,” but he ultimately led us to the end of the last cold war.
Ronald Reagan, the 40th POTUS, died, as dignified as a late-stage Alzheimer’s patient can, surrounded by his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and the love of his life, Nancy, (who is very much still alive at 94). Since his death in 2004, his widow has championed for stem-cell research, and has maintained a very close relationship with the Obama’s, even after supporting Mitt Romney in his bid for office. The legacy of Reagan and his family is ever-present, and much remains to be seen.
Kengor, Paul. (2006). The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. New York:
Regan Books. p. 12.
NCC Staff. (2015). 10 famous people who switched political parties. Constitutioncenter.org.
Retrieved from http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2015/03/10-famous-people-
who-switch-political-parties/. web. 21 July 2015.
Rottinghaus, B and Vaughn, J. (2014) Presidential Scholars’ Ranking of Top Presidents.
American Political Science Association. Poll. Web. retrieved from
s/. 21 July 2015
Woodward, J. David. (2012). Ronald Reagan: A Biography. Santa Barbara. ABC-CLIO. p.28