At the end of his two terms
in office, Ronald Reagan viewed with satisfaction the achievements of his
innovative program known as the Reagan Revolution, which aimed to
reinvigorate the American people and reduce their reliance upon
Government. He felt he had fulfilled his campaign pledge of 1980 to
restore "the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and
On February 6, 1911, Ronald
Wilson Reagan was born to Nelle and John Reagan in Tampico, Illinois.
He attended high school in
nearby Dixon and then worked his way through Eureka College.
There, he studied economics
and sociology, played on the football team, and acted in school plays.
Upon graduation, he became a radio sports announcer. A screen test in 1937
won him a contract in Hollywood. During the next two decades he appeared
in 53 films.
From his first marriage to
actress Jane Wyman, he had two children, Maureen and Michael. Maureen
passed away in 2001. In 1952 he married Nancy Davis, who was also an
actress, and they had two children, Patricia Ann and Ronald Prescott.
As president of the Screen
Actors Guild, Reagan became embroiled in disputes over the issue of
Communism in the film industry; his political views shifted from liberal
to conservative. He toured the country as a television host, becoming a
spokesman for conservatism. In 1966 he was elected Governor of California
by a margin of a million votes; he was re-elected in 1970.
Ronald Reagan won the
Republican Presidential nomination in 1980 and chose as his running mate
former Texas Congressman and United Nations Ambassador George Bush. Voters
troubled by inflation and by the year-long confinement of Americans in
Iran swept the Republican ticket into office. Reagan won 489 electoral
votes to 49 for President Jimmy Carter.
On January 20, 1981, Reagan
took office. Only 69 days later he was shot by a would-be assassin, but
quickly recovered and returned to duty. His grace and wit during the
dangerous incident caused his popularity to soar.
Dealing skillfully with
Congress, Reagan obtained legislation to stimulate economic growth, curb
inflation, increase employment, and strengthen national defense. He
embarked upon a course of cutting taxes and Government expenditures,
refusing to deviate from it when the strengthening of defense forces led
to a large deficit.
A renewal of national
self-confidence by 1984 helped Reagan and Bush win a second term with an
unprecedented number of electoral votes. Their victory turned away
Democratic challengers Walter F. Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro.
In 1986 Reagan obtained an
overhaul of the income tax code, which eliminated many deductions and
exempted millions of people with low incomes. At the end of his
administration, the Nation was enjoying its longest recorded period of
peacetime prosperity without recession or depression.
In foreign policy, Reagan
sought to achieve "peace through strength." During his two terms he
increased defense spending 35 percent, but sought to improve relations
with the Soviet Union. In dramatic meetings with Soviet leader Mikhail
Gorbachev, he negotiated a treaty that would eliminate intermediate-range
nuclear missiles. Reagan declared war against international terrorism,
sending American bombers against Libya after evidence came out that Libya
was involved in an attack on American soldiers in a West Berlin nightclub.
By ordering naval escorts
in the Persian Gulf, he maintained the free flow of oil during the
Iran-Iraq war. In keeping with the Reagan Doctrine, he gave support to
anti-Communist insurgencies in Central America, Asia, and Africa.
Overall, the Reagan years
saw a restoration of prosperity, and the goal of peace through strength
seemed to be within grasp.
On June 5, 2004
Ronald Wilson Reagan passed away at home, at age 93
Feb. 6, 1911
Ronald Wilson Reagan is born in Tampico, Ill., to Nelle Wilson Reagan and
John Edward Reagan. The Reagans already had one previous son, Neil.
After a series of moves in rural northern Illinois, the Reagans settle in
Dixon, Ill., which Reagan considered his hometown.
Reagan begins work as a lifeguard at Lowell Park, near Dixon. He was
credited with saving 77 lives during the seven summers he worked there.
Reagan graduates from Dixon High School, where he was student body
president and participated in football, basketball, track, and school
Reagan attends Eureka (Illinois) College, where he majored in economics
and sociology. During his sophomore year, Reagan becomes interested in
drama. Reagan also serves as student body president.
Reagan receives a temporary sports broadcasting job with WOC, a small
radio station in Davenport, Iowa. After WOC consolidates with WHO in Des
Moines, "Dutch" recreates Chicago Cubs baseball games from the studio.
WHO, an NBC affiliate, gives Reagan national media exposure.
Reagan enlists in the Army Reserve as a private but is soon promoted to
2nd lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps of the Cavalry. An agent for
Warner Brothers "discovers" Reagan in Los Angeles and offers him a
Reagan plays Notre Dame football legend George Gipp in his most acclaimed
film, Knute Rockne, All American, The role earns Reagan the nickname "the
Listen to Reagan deliver his famous line from that movie.
Jan. 24, 1940
Reagan marries actress Jane Wyman, whom he met while making the movie
Jan. 4, 1941
Daughter Maureen is born.
Reagan is called to active duty by the Army Air Force. He is assigned to
the 1st Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, Calif., where he makes over
400 training films.
After the war, Reagan resumes his acting career, which continues for 20
years. Reagan makes 53 motion pictures and one television movie during his
The Reagans adopt Michael.
Elected president of the Screen Actors Guild for the first of five
consecutive terms, Reagan testifies as a friendly witness before the House
Committee on Un-American Activities. The hearings result in the
blacklising of many writers and directors thought to have ties to the
Reagan supports Harry Truman for president.
Reagan and Wyman divorce.
Reagan campaigns for California Democrat Helen Gahagan Douglas in her bid
for the U.S. Senate against Richard Nixon.
Reagan campaigns as a Democrat for Eisenhower.
March 4, 1952
Reagan and movie actress Nancy Davis wed.
Oct. 21, 1952
Daughter Patricia (Patti) is born.
Reagan is hired to host the General Electric Theater on television, a job
he holds for eight years. Reagan tours the country giving speeches as a GE
Reagan campaigns as a Democrat for President Dwight Eisenhower's
May 20, 1958
Son Ronald Prescott (Ron) is born.
Reagan campaigns as a Democrat for Richard Nixon for president.
Reagan officially changes his party registration to Republican.
Oct. 27, 1964
Reagan gives a television address supporting Republican presidential
candidate Barry Goldwater. The speech, called "A Time for Choosing,"
launches Reagan's political career.
Watch or listen to that speech.
Reagan's autobiography, Where's the Rest of Me? -- the title is a line
from his 1942 movie King's Row -- is published.
Reagan defeats incumbent California Gov. Edmund G. "Pat" Brown in a
Reagan makes a tentative run for the presidency, waiting until the
Republican National Convention in Miami to announce his candidacy. He
later joins in supporting nominee Richard Nixon.
Reagan sends in the National Guard to break up protests at the University
of California at Berkeley after university officials block activists'
efforts to create a "Peoples Park".
Reagan is re-elected California governor.
For several months after his gubernatorial term ends, Reagan writes a
syndicated newspaper column and provides commentaries on radio stations
across the country.
Nov. 20, 1975
Reagan announces his candidacy for the Republican nomination for
He loses the Republican Party's nomination to Gerald Ford, but a strong
showing sets the stage for Reagan's election in 1980. In the meantime,
Reagan works on his ranch, gives speeches, does radio commentaries and
writes a weekly newspaper column.
Nov. 13, 1979
Reagan announces his candidacy for president. After winning the party's
nomination, he chooses George Bush as his running mate. The platform calls
for "a new consensus with all those across the land who share a community
of values embodied in these words: family, work, neighborhood, peace, and
Nov. 4, 1980
Reagan is elected president in a landslide victory over incumbent Jimmy
Jan. 20, 1981
Reagan is sworn in as the 40th president of the United States. On the same
day, Iran releases the 52 remaining hostages who had been held at the U.S.
embassy in Tehran for 444 days.
March 30, 1981
Reagan is shot in the chest upon leaving a Washington hotel but makes a
full recovery after surgery. Three other people, including Reagan press
secretary James Brady, are wounded in the assassination attempt. John
Hinckley Jr. is charged but found not guilty by reason of insanity.
April 28, 1981
Reagan appears before Congress for the first time since the assassination
attempt. He receives a hero's welcome and overwhelming support for his
economic package, which includes cuts in social programs and taxes, and
increases in defense spending.
July 29, 1981
Congress passes Reagan's tax bill. Instead of a 30% tax cut over three
years, Reagan accepts 25%.
Aug. 3, 1981
Air traffic controllers go on strike. Reagan gives them 48 hours to get
back to work, and fires those who refuse.
Reagan appoints Sandra Day O'Connor as the first female justice on the
U.S. Supreme Court.
Oct. 18, 1981
Reagan concedes that the United States is in "a slight recession" but
predicts recovery by the spring.
Nov. 10, 1981
Budget Director David Stockman charges that the 5% economic growth rate
that the administration had assumed was a "rosy scenario," and pans
"supply side" economics as a way to benefit the rich.
June 8, 1982
In a speech to the British House of Commons, Reagan predicts "the march of
freedom and democracy...will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of
The nation sinks into its worst recession since the Great Depression.
Reagan fears budget deficits as high as $200 billion. On Nov. 1, more than
9 million Americans are officially unemployed.
Jan. 31, 1983
Reagan submits his fiscal 1984 budget to Congress. The recession, tax cuts
and increased defense outlays are blamed for a projected $189 billion
budget gap. Reagan vows to "stay the course," rejecting advice to raise
taxes or cut defense.
March 8, 1983
In a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, Reagan warns
against ignoring "the aggressive impulses of an evil empire," the U.S.S.R.
March 23, 1983
Reagan unveils his proposal for a Strategic Defense Initiative, later
dubbed "Star Wars," in a national speech: "I call upon the scientific
community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their
great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the
means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete."
Sept. 1, 1983
A Soviet fighter downs Korean Air Lines flight (KAL 007), killing all 269
people aboard, including 61 Americans. Reagan denounces it as a "crime
Oct. 23, 1983
A suicide truck bomber crashes into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut,
killing 241 members of the peacekeeping force.
Oct. 25, 1983
U.S. troops invade Grenada to oust Marxists who had overthrown the
government, and to protect U.S. medical students on the Caribbean island.
Jan. 16, 1984
Reagan calls for a return to arms talks with the U.S.S.R.
May 9, 1984
In a televised speech, Reagan urges helping the Contra "freedom fighters"
June 6, 1984
Reagan gives an emotional speech in Normandy, France, commemorating the
40th anniversary of D-Day.
July 19, 1984
Walter Mondale accepts the Democratic presidential nomination and promises
to raise taxes.
Aug. 11, 1984
While checking a microphone prior to a radio broadcast, Reagan jokes:
"...I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin
bombing in five minutes."
Oct. 7, 1984
In a debate with Mondale, Reagan's poor performance raises the "age
Oct. 10, 1984
Congress outlaws funding for military aid to the Nicaragua Contras.
Oct. 21, 1984
In his second debate with Mondale, Reagan quips: "I will not make age an
issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes,
my opponent's youth and inexperience."
Nov. 4, 1984
Reagan defeats Mondale in landslide. Reagan carries 49 states -- 525
electoral votes to Mondale's 10, and 59% of the popular vote.
Jan. 20, 1985
Reagan, 73, begins a second term, making him the oldest president ever to
be sworn in.
TWA Flight 847 from Athens is hijacked by terrorists. The pilot is forced
to fly to Beirut, where hijackers beat and kill a Navy diver. The plane is
flown to Algiers, then back to Beirut again. Most passengers are released;
39 are held captive in Lebanon. Reagan vows that the U.S. will never give
in to terrorists' demands. The remaining hostages are freed after 17 days.
July 13, 1985
Reagan undergoes surgery for colon cancer and is released from the
hospital a week later.
Nov. 19, 1985
Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev hold a "fireside" summit in
Geneva. The leaders disagree on the Strategic Defense Initiative but
pledge to meet again and seek a 50% cut in nuclear arms.
Jan. 17, 1986
Reagan undergoes surgery for polyps on his colon.
Jan. 28, 1986
The U.S. space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after liftoff, killing
all on board -- six astronauts and teacher Christa McAuliffe, the first
civilian to go into space.
April 14, 1986
Reagan orders air strikes against Libya in retaliation for the bombing of
a West Berlin disco in which two U.S. servicemen were killed and more than
200 people were injured.
Oct. 11, 1986
A Reagan-Gorbachev arms summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, ends without
agreement after a rift over SDI.
Nov. 13, 1986
Reagan admits sending some defensive weapons and spare parts to Iran but
denies it was part of an arms-for-hostages deal.
Nov. 25, 1986
National Security Adviser John Poindexter resigns and national security
aide Col. Oliver North is fired in the widening Iran-Contra affair. In a
press conference, Attorney General Edwin Meese announces that $10-$30
million of profits from the sale of U.S. arms to Iran had been diverted to
the Nicaraguan Contras.
Feb. 26, 1987
The Tower Commission report on Iran-Contra concludes that Reagan's passive
management style allowed his staff to mislead him about the trade of arms
to Iran for hostages held in Lebanon and to pursue a secret war against
the Nicaraguan government.
Feb. 27, 1987
Reagan yields to pressure from his advisers (including wife Nancy) to fire
Chief of Staff Donald Regan.
March 4, 1987
Reagan acknowledges a "mistake" in the Iran-Contra affair.
June 12, 1987
In a speech at Berlin's Brandenberg Gate, Reagan demands Gorbachev "tear
down this wall."
In a Washington summit, Reagan and Gorbachev sign Intermediate-range
Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty to eliminate 4% of the superpowers' nuclear
arsenals. It is the first U.S.-Soviet treaty to provide for destruction of
nuclear weapons and to provide for on-site monitoring of the destruction.
March 16, 1988
Oliver North, John Poindexter, and two others are indicted by a federal
grand jury on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government by
secretly providing funds and supplies to the Contras.
April 14, 1988
The Soviet Union agrees to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
May 5, 1988
In his memoir For the Record, Donald Regan reveals that Nancy Reagan
relied on an astrologer to set the dates for her husband's public
May 27, 1988
The Senate ratifies the INF treaty, the first arms-control agreement since
1972's Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) to receive Senate
Nov. 8, 1988
Vice President George Bush defeats Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis to
become the 41st president of the United States.
Jan. 11, 1989
Reagan gives his farewell address to the nation, in which he says the
so-called Reagan revolution "made a difference."
RONALD REAGAN FILMS
Warner Brothers First
Love Is on the Air*
Submarine D-1 (RR part cut;
not in credits)
Warner Brothers First
Hollywood Hotel (RR not
Swing Your Lady
Accidents Will Happen*
Cowboy from Brooklyn
Boy Meets Girl
Girls on Probation*
Brother Rat (with Jane
Secret Service of the Air*
Warner Brothers First
Code of the Secret Service*
Naughty But Nice
Angels Wash Their Faces*
Smashing the Money Ring*
Brother Rat and a Baby
(with Jane Wyman)
An Angel from Texas (with
Murder in the Air*
Knute Rockne-All American
Tugboat Annie Sails Again*
(with Jane Wyman and featuring Neil Reagan)
Data compiled from The
British Antarctic Study, NASA, Environment Canada, UNEP, EPA and
other sources as stated and credited Researched by Charles
Welch-Updated daily This Website is a project of the The Ozooe Hole