Ronald Reagan 1911 - 2004
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, in 1911. Mr. Reagan went to high school in Dixon, Illinois, where he served as student body president, acted in school plays, and participated in football, basketball, and track. While studying economics and sociology at Eureka College in Illinois, he continued to take part in dramatic presentations and play football. After graduation he became a radio sports announcer.
In 1937 Mr. Reagan enlisted in the Army Reserve and was called to active duty by The Army Air Force. They assigned Lieutenant Reagan to the 1st Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, California, where he made over 400 training films and was promoted to the rank of Captain.
In 1937 he was "discovered" in Los Angeles by an agent for Warner Brothers who offered him a seven year contract. Though he had roles in fifty-three films, he is best known for his role as George Gipp in the 1940 film, Knute Rockne-All American . A phrase from that movie, "Win one for the Gipper," later became a rallying cry for Reagan's political campaigns. His acting career lasted almost thirty years.
Mr. Reagan later toured the country as a television host, becoming a spokesman for conservatism. In 1966 he was elected Governor of California, winning by a margin of a million votes. He was re-elected to that position in 1970.
Though unsuccessful in his first attempts to win the nation's highest office, on November 4, 1980, Mr. Reagan became the fortieth President of the United States. Just a little over three months into his presidency, he was shot by a would-be assassin but recovered quickly. His popularity ratings soared as he oversaw legislation that improved the economy, strengthened the defense, and just generally made American citizens feel better about themselves and their country. Because of the renewal of national self-confidence, in 1984 Mr. Reagan won a second term with an unprecedented number of electoral votes.
In 1989 President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, returned to their beloved ranch in California where they enjoyed spending time with friends and relaxing after all the years in office. Mr. Reagan toured and spoke to many different groups throughout the world. In 1994 he wrote a letter saying that he had Alzheimer’s Disease. During the next few year he continued traveling and speaking, but the disease finally took its toll. The last years of his life he traveled less and less, finally not leaving the house at all. He died on June 5, 2004, surrounded by his family and was buried inside a tomb at his hilltop presidential library.