The Life of Ronald Wilson Reagan

Article excerpt

Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

1911

Feb. 6 - Born in Tampico, Ill., to itinerant shoe salesman John Edward "Jack" Reagan and his wife, Nelle Wilson Reagan.

1920

The Reagan family settles in Dixon, Ill., where his parents continue to instill a ruggedly individualistic, optimistic ethic in young Ronald that reflects Midwestern values of home, family and patriotism.

1928

Graduates from Dixon High School, where he was active in sports and drama and was elected president of the student body.

1932

Graduates from Eureka College, a small liberal arts college affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, where he played football, was elected student body president and supplemented a partial scholarship by working as a lifeguard, swimming coach and dishwasher. Upon graduation, he lands a temporary job announcing University of Iowa football games over WOC, a small radio station in Davenport, Iowa.

1933

Inspired by President Roosevelt's fireside chats, he adopts FDR as a political hero and copies his speaking style and rhetoric. Hired as a sports announcer at WOC; after it is consolidated with WHO in Des Moines, he announces Chicago Cubs baseball games throughout the Midwest.

1937

Discovered by an agent for the Warner Bros. movie studio while covering Cubs spring training near Los Angeles. After a screen test, he signs to play the leading role of a crusading radio announcer in "Love Is On the Air," the first of 55 films in a 28-year acting career.

1940

Stars as George Gipp, the University of Notre Dame football player who died young, in "Knute Rockne - All American." Marries actress Jane Wyman.

1941

Daughter Maureen Elizabeth is born. His father dies.

1942

Stars in the critically acclaimed "King's Row." Enters Army Air Corps as a second lieutenant. Disqualified from combat duty for nearsightedness, he is assigned to make Air Force training films in Hollywood.

1945

Discharged with the rank of captain. Adopts a son, Michael Edward.

1947

Elected to the first of five consecutive terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild. Appears as a friendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee, supporting Hollywood producers' blacklist of actors and writers suspected of communist ties.

1948

Campaigns for President Truman's re-election. Is divorced from Jane Wyman.

1949-1950

Serves as chairman of the Motion Picture Industry Council, a group devoted to improving the industry's image.

1952

Marries actress Nancy Davis. Campaigns as a Democratic supporter of Republican presidential nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower. Daughter Patricia Ann is born.

1954-1962

Hosts and occasionally stars in a television drama series, "General Electric Theater." Tours the country as a spokesman for GE, including speeches to factory workers stressing the dangers of too much government regulation.

1956

Campaigns for President Eisenhower's re-election.

1957

Co-stars with his wife in "Hellcats of the Navy," his last theatrical release.

1958

Son Ronald Prescott is born.

1960

Campaigns for Vice President Richard M. Nixon, the Republican nominee for president, against Sen. John F. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.

1962

Leaves the Democratic Party and registers as a Republican. His mother dies at 76.

1962-1965

Hosts and performs in the television Western series "Death Valley Days." Does commercials for the sponsor, United States Borax & Chemical Corp., which makes cleaning products. Stars in his last film, the made-for-television "The Killers" (1964).

1964

Oct. 27 - Gains widespread attention with a nationally televised speech, "A Time for Choosing," on behalf of the Republican presidential nominee, Sen. …