Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004) was born in Tampico, Illinois on February 6, 1911. The family moved to Chicago, then to Galesburg, Illinois, and in 1937 moved to California.
Reagan signed a seven-year contract with Warner Bros. He spent the first few years of his Hollywood career in the "B film" unit, where, Reagan joked, the producers "didn't want them good, they wanted them Thursday." 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, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1949. Warner Bros. "Kings Row" starring Ronald Reagan was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1943.
After the outbreak of WWII (1939-1945), Reagan, an officer in the Army Reserve, was ordered to active duty in April 1942. He 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 Production Unit of "This Is The Army" at Burbank, California, then he returned to the First Motion Picture Unit. He acted and narrated military training films such as Recognition of the Japanese Zero Fighter and Beyond the Line of Duty which later won the Academy Award for Best Short film. He returned to acting after the war.
In 1952, he married fellow actress Nancy Davis.
When his film roles began to dwindle in the mid-1950s, Reagan turned to television, where he hosted and acted in a number of programs, most notably hosting the General Electric Theater for eight years on CBS.
He acted or narrated in 71 films and worked in 17 television shows, including hosting 235 teleplays and acted in 35 episodes of General Electric Theater, and acted in 8 episodes of Death Valley Days in 1964-1965.
Reagan retired from acting in 1965, and he became active in Republican politics, being elected as the Governor of California serving from 1967 to 1975, and later as the 40th President of the United States from 1981 to 1989.
President, Ronald Reagan referenced Sesame Street in a November 14, 1985, televised speech prior to the Geneva Summit where he would meet with Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Expressing a desire for Americans and Soviets to begin better relations amidst Cold War conditions, Reagan said, "Imagine if people in our nation could see the Bolshoi Ballet again, while Soviet citizens could see American plays and hear [music] groups like the Beach Boys. And how about Soviet children watching Sesame Street?"
The remark prompted a response from Children's Television Workshop (CTW) Fran Kaufman, "There have been no discussions or negotiations about the series going there. But we're hoping to do a special from the Soviet Union." A co-production with Russia would not happen until eleven years later with the launch of Ulitsa Sezam. Ulitsa Sezam was the Russian co-production of Sesame Street. The series first aired on October 22, 1996, with the second rerun in 1999, the third rerun in 2003, and the fourth and last rerun in 2006.
In the Muppet episode 2478 which aired on May 4, 1988, of season 19 (1987-1988), Ronald Reagan makes a cameo appearance as a Muppet.
|The Muppet "Forgetful" imagines meeting a jelly bean-loving President.|
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.