Ronald Reagan was born into a poor family in Illinois became a celebrated Hollywood actor and made it all the way to becoming president of the United States. He was not, however inexperienced. He had been president of ‘The Screen Actors Guild’ not once but twice and also Governor of California by the time he got to the White House.
He was also generally liked and regarded as an all round good guy. This despite the fact that he dobbed in many Hollywood greats denouncing them as communists during the Mcarthy era. He would be rolling in his grave at the current choice for president as Melania Trump’s father has himself been branded a communist. All politics aside Reagan was the genuine article on screen and proved very popular in mostly B pictures. He had an honesty and an integrity that audiences fell in like with. Before we get to all that let’s take a look at the merit of the man before he was even a man. His father apparently nicknamed Ronnie ‘Dutch’ which probably stood for Dutch Courage which was fitting indeed. While still at school Reagan was a beach life guard and had been involved in over one hundred rescues. Credited with saving the lives of at least seventy of those without help. As a teenager he took a stand against racism and would often jump the fences that segregated his poor white trash neighbourhood from the black families and hang out with his best friend who just happened to be black. Many years later when the local inn in Dixon threw out a group of black people Reagan took a stand and invited them to his house for drinks instead. On leaving school and finishing college he got himself a job as speaker for General Electrics Factories which eventually lead to his wanting to become an actor and in 1937 he made his first Hollywood movie. At this time he was a actually a democrat. In all of his movies Reagan was a nice guy with a mixture of integrity and grit. He was also very handsome. In his screen debut in 1937 he played a reporter who takes on the city council and exposes them on the radio. The film entitled ‘Love Is On The Air’ set a precedent for future roles. His leading ladies on film were like a who’s who of Hollywood. Patricia Neal, Jane Bromley, Anne Sheridan, Jane Wyman,Nancy Davis, Virginia Mayo, Doris Day, Vivecca Linfores. Many of his films contained strong moral content such as ‘The Hasty Heart’ with Patricia Neal and ‘Voice Of The Turtle’ with Eleanor Powell. He was often the hero in the war films which followed including ‘Desperate Journey’,with Errol Flynn and ‘Hell Cats Of The Navy’ with Nancy Davis who would become his second wife. Reagan’s first wife was Jane Wyman who divorced him for being terribly unfaithful to her. He was ,by all accounts, a bit of a player. Still when he met Nancy it was for keeps. Just as well because he had big fish to fry and needed to be stable. Reagan would go on to become Governor of California and made it all the way to President with Nancy at his side.
Jane had been against many of his political leanings when they were together but she did vote for him in both elections. Nancy was the perfect political wife and supported everything he said and did all the way. She quit movies as soon as they married. In most of her films she had played housewives, teachers or psychologists. A very wholesome type and, if one looks very closely, quite similar in type to Wyman. Choice of wife also says alot about Reagan.
Reagan was a man with middle class, moral values who really believed in the goodness of people and country. Anyway I digress. Even though Reagan made B movies for the most part he was by no means a B grade actor. Not only that he did star in one of the greatest films of all time, ‘Kings Row’ with Anne Sheridan. In this film which traces the lives of three people growing up in a small town Reagan plays the loveable kid from the wrong side of the tracks who, as an adult, loses both his legs in a work accident. His most famous line on looking down to where his legs used to be was ‘Where’s the rest of me’. Anne Sheridan plays the girl who has loved him from childhood and Robert Cummings plays his best friend.
The film was nominated for an academy award and would have greatly boosted Reagan’s career had it not been for military service. As it was he served as Lieutenant Of the first Motion picture unit throughout the war and was able to gain much information on movements of German soldiers. It’s impossible to include all his films in this blog as he made so many but he does seem to have made quite a lot of war films which is really not surprising as he did seem to have a bit of a taste for it. There was the Iran contra affair, the arms race with Russia and increased taxes and military spending. Oh and I neglected to mention that even though originally democrat he ruled as a conservative Republican? He did, however, hold talks with Gobachev which later resulted in the destruction of The Berlin Wall and a reduction in Russia’s nuclear arsenals. Despite some very unpopular political decisions which caused mass protests and economic doom for many Reagan was well regarded as president and completed two terms. All way too detailed to go into here. My Point? There can be no comparison to Donald Trump who has the morals of a sewer rat and is interested only in lining his own pockets. Just take a look at Ronald Reagan’s abode outside the ‘White House’ and compare it with the Golden Tower of Greed.
Guess what? There is no comparison.