Ronald Reagan Biography

Ronald Reagan, a name that changed the political and economic condition of America, served as the 33rd governor of California before becoming the 40th president of the United States. However, what is intriguing is the stark difference between his early life in entertainment and his later political career. From being a radio sports announcer and actor to hosting television series and leading the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan had a successful career before entering politics. Despite his achievements, Reagan passed away in 2004, leaving behind a legacy that will be remembered for years to come.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Ronald Wilson Reagan
  • Died At Age: 93
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Jane Wyman (1940–1949), Nancy Davis (1952–2004)
    • Father: Jack Reagan
    • Mother: Nelle Wilson Reagan
    • Siblings: Neil Reagan
    • Children: Christine Reagan, Maureen Reagan, Michael Reagan (adopted), Patti Davis, Ron Reagan
  • Born Country: United States
  • Quotes By Ronald Reagan
  • Political ideology: Democratic (1962), Republican (1962–2004)
  • Died on: June 5, 2004
  • Place of death: Los Angeles, California, United States
  • Ancestry: British American, Irish American
  • Notable Alumni: Eureka College
  • Cause of Death: Pneumonia
  • Diseases & Disabilities: Alzheimer’s
  • U.S. State: Illinois
  • More Facts
  • Education: Eureka College

Childhood & Early Life

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois, USA, to John Edward ‘Jack’ Reagan and Nelle Wilson Reagan. He had an elder brother named Neil. Thanks to his Dutchman-like appearance, Reagan was fondly called ‘Dutch,’ a nickname that stayed with him throughout his youth.

He completed his preliminary education from ‘Dixon High School,’ post which he got a scholarship to study economics and sociology at ‘Eureka College.’ While he was academically proficient, his performance as an athlete and actor won him the chair of the president of the student body.

Hollywood Career

Upon completing his graduation in 1932, he worked as a radio sports announcer in Iowa, after which he was hired by ‘WHO’ radio. In 1937, a screen test with the ‘Warner Brothers’ led to his signing a contract with the company.

In his three-decade-long Hollywood career, he acted in several movies. Though he initially found himself acting in ‘B-films,’ his performance was appreciated by audiences and critics alike. His most popular movies were ‘Knute Rockne, All American’ and ‘Kings Row.’

Meanwhile, he enlisted himself in the ‘Army Enlisted Reserve’ in 1937 and was called for duty in 1942. Due to his near-sightedness, he was only eligible for limited service in the ‘Army Air Forces’ (AAF). He was soon promoted to the position of first lieutenant and later captain. In 1945, he was called off active duty.

From 1947 until 1952, he served as the president of ‘Screen Actors Guild.’ He once again served as the president in 1959. He took to television and served as the host of the show ‘General Electric Theatre.’ He then went on to host a show titled ‘Death Valley Days.’

Political Career

It was during his years as a television host that his ideology shifted from that of a liberal to a conservative. He entered the political limelight in 1964 with his speech favoring Republican candidate Barry Goldwater.

In 1966, he ran for the post of governor of California and eventually ended up winning the same by almost one million votes. He was re-elected for a second term in 1970, which he served until January 1975.

Establishing himself as a ‘Republican Party’ conservative candidate, he contested the 1980 presidential election. The result of the election was spell-binding as he convincingly defeated Democratic President Jimmy Carter, gaining 50.7 percent of the popular votes.

He was sworn in as the president of the USA on January 20, 1981. In his inaugural speech, he called for a renewal of the nation and the government, which he designated to be ‘the problem’ instead of being the ‘problem-solver.’


In an assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr., Reagan was shot and wounded on the 69th day of office when he was moving out of the ‘Washington Hilton Hotel.’ He recovered after undergoing an emergency surgery, becoming the first US president to survive an assassination attempt after being shot.

During his term, he brought about numerous social, economic, domestic, and international policies. He enhanced the military budget and reduced the expense of certain social programs such as ‘Medicaid,’ ‘food stamps,’ and federal education programs, and deregulated businesses. He brought an end to the price controls on domestic oils which led to an unhindered supply of energy in the 1980s.

In an attempt to revive the American economy, he proposed the lowering of marginal tax rates which eventually led to increased investment, increased economic growth, and higher employment and wages. His economic policies led to the revival of the nation’s economy in 1983 which marked the beginning of the seven glorious years of economic prosperity.

As for foreign policy, ‘Cold War’ was the most pressing issue during his first term as president. To protect the country from the Soviet Empire, he ordered a build-up of weapons and troops. Additionally, he introduced the ‘Reagan Doctrine,’ which provided aid to anti-communist movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Furthermore, he wanted to develop space-based weapons to protect America from Soviet nuclear missiles.

Later Years and Legacy

After serving as the president for two continuous terms, he evacuated the ‘White House’ in January 1989 and returned to his home in Los Angeles, California. In 1991, the ‘Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum’ opened in Simi Valley, California.

Several schools, institutions, buildings, roads, and airports bear his name and stand as a testament to the great work done by this prolific 40th US president. Additionally, numerous statues of him have been unveiled across the globe.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994. He died on June 5, 2004, after suffering from pneumonia, which was complicated by Alzheimer’s disease.

His mortal remains were interred at the ‘Ronald Reagan Presidential Library’ in California. A state funeral was held at the ‘Washington National Cathedral’ and then President George Bush declared June 11 as a national day of mourning.

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