Ronald Reagan, 40th President: A Conservative Celebrity

Updated on December 13, 2019
angela_michelle profile image

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else be destined to repeat it.

Official White House Photo


Life As an Actor and President of the Screen Actors Guild

Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th United States President, was the oldest man ever elected for the position. He was born on February 6, 1911, in a low-income family in Tampico, Illinois. His father, John Reagan, was a shoe clerk, while his mother loved theater. He grew to enjoy it as well and pursued acting like an adult. Growing up, his nickname was Dutch.

In high school, he appeared in many plays, while also active in swimming and football. After graduating high school, he attended Eureka College, where he studied economics and sociology. He also continued his extracurricular interests, then after graduation became a radio sports announcer. In 1937, he was able to travel in California with the Chicago Cubs during spring training camp to broadcast their games. It was there that he got his first big acting break. He eventually appeared in 53 movies. He was very active in the Screen Actors Guild and became its president for six years.

While president of the Guild, his political views changed as he became entangled in debates about Communism in the film industry. Although he was initially a Democrat, he ended up touring the country as a conservative television host, which would eventually lead him to become elected as Governor of California in 1966 by a substantial margin, where he would serve two terms.

In his personal life, he married twice. The first time was to a costar Jane Wyman who had been divorced twice before. They had three children, Maureen, Michael, and Christine, who died prematurely. After their daughter died, Jane filed for her third divorce. He remarried in 1952 to Nancy Davis, who was also an actress. They had two more children, Patricia and Ronald Prescott, and lived happily together for the rest of his life.

A year after being Governor, he decided to run for the Republican Presidential nomination, which he lost to President Ford. Unfortunately, Ford lost that election, and Jimmy Carter became President.

Do you think a program like Reaganomics would be good for our country?

See results


Reagan ran again with George H. W. Bush as his running mate. This time he gained the Republican presidential nomination and ultimately won against Carter by a landslide. His main focus during and after his campaign was for defending hard work ethic, the family, and patriotism.

He became well known for his economic policies, which became known as Reaganomics. He worked skillfully with Congress where he worked hard to curb inflation, stimulate growth in the economy, increase employment, and strengthen national defense. He slashed taxes, but also cut spending on welfare and unemployment programs.

He felt strongly about keeping the military strong in order to maintain peace, especially with the Soviet Union. He did allow extra spending for missiles, bombers, and other weapons, ultimately increasing the defense spending by 35 percent throughout his time in office.

The nation felt secure under Reaganomics and re-elected Reagan with a very high majority of electoral votes for a second term.

He continued with many of his economic programs, eliminating many deductions and exempting millions of people who had low incomes. By the end of his administration, the United States had its longest recorded period of peace without recession or depression.

He continued to seek to improve relations with the Soviet Union. He did several summit meetings with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. In 1987, they signed a nuclear missile treaty, which disarmed many nuclear-armed missiles. This was thought to be his greatest success.

Unfortunately, he did declare war against international terrorism after it was revealed that Libya attacked American soldiers in a West Berlin nightclub, in which he sent American bombers to Libya.

He maintained his anti-Communist stance and gave support to Central America, Asia, and Africa in order to stop the spread of Communism. He also maintained the transport of oil during the Iran-Iraq war, by ordering naval escorts to the Persian Gulf.

His programs were thought to be so successful that at the end of his second term, his time in office became known as the Reagan Revolution. He felt he was successful in accomplishing what he sought to do, which was to restore "the great, confident roar of American progress and growth and optimism."

He died in his home at the age of 93, on June 5, 2004, after several years suffering from Alzheimer’s. His wife Nancy died March 6, 2016, of congestive heart failure at 94. They both are buried at his presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

Ronald Reagan in the U.S. Army Air Force, 1940s.


Fun Facts

  • He was a movie star before becoming president, appearing in 53 films.
  • He played football in college.
  • Designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday.
  • In the 1947 movie That Hagen Girl Reagan performed with Shirley Temple. She later stated he was her best on-screen kisser.
  • He was the oldest president ever to be elected at age 70. The next was Eisenhower, who was 70 when he left office.
  • He was an FBI informer in 1947, who informed the Feds of actors who were part of the Communist party and sympathizers.

Excerpt from the History Channel

List of United States of America

1. George Washington
16. Abraham Lincoln
31. Herbert Hoover
2. John Adams
17. Andrew Johnson
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. Thomas Jefferson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
33. Harry S. Truman
4. James Madison
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. James Monroe
20. James Garfield
35. John F. Kennedy
6. John Quincy Adams
21. Chester A. Arthur
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
7. Andrew Jackson
22. Grover Cleveland
37. Richard M. Nixon
8. Martin Van Buren
23. Benjamin Harrison
38. Gerald R. Ford
9. William Henry Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
39. James Carter
10. John Tyler
25. William McKinley
40. Ronald Reagan
11. James K. Polk
26. Theodore Roosevelt
41. George H. W. Bush
12. Zachary Taylor
27. William Howard Taft
42. William J. Clinton
13. Millard Fillmore
28. Woodrow Wilson
43. George W. Bush
14. Franklin Pierce
29. Warren G. Harding
44. Barack Obama
15. James Buchanan
30. Calvin Coolidge
45. Donald Trump

Reagan as an Actor


Basic Facts

February 6, 1911 - Illinois
President Number
Military Service
United States Army Air Forces
Wars Served
Age at Beginning of Presidency
70 years old
Term of Office
January 20, 1981 - January 20, 1989
How Long Served as President
8 years
George H. W. Bush
Age and Year of Death
June 5, 2004 (aged 93)
Cause of Death
pneumonia, complicated by Alzheimer's disease

Model of USS Ronald Reagan

Former President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, as well as Newport News Shipbuilding Chairman and CEO Bill Fricks stand behind the model of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).
Former President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, as well as Newport News Shipbuilding Chairman and CEO Bill Fricks stand behind the model of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). | Source


  • "10 things you (probably) didn't know about Ronald Reagan." History Extra. Accessed November 14, 2017.
  • Cleary, Tom. "Ronald Reagan’s Death: When Did the Former President Die?" March 06, 2016. Accessed January 13, 2018.
  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2009). Ronald Reagan. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from
  • Roger Schlueter <a href="" title=""> "Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman's love story had an unhappy ending." Bnd. Accessed January 13, 2018.
  • Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.

© 2018 Angela Michelle Schultz


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)