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Ronald Reagan
From Broadcaster to President

Sarah Tintori
Marseilles Elementary School, Marseilles

There have been many broadcasters and actors from Illinois. Perhaps the most famous is Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois. He was the second son of John and Nelle Reagan. Ronald's mother loved the theater. Ronald liked acting at a very early age in part because of his mother's interest. He participated in school plays. In high school he starred in many plays, and in college he joined a drama club. He went to high school in Dixon, Illinois, and he went to college at Eureka, Illinois.

Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan began his career as an announcer for a Des Moines, Iowa, radio station.

After Reagan graduated from college in 1932, he moved to Des Moines, Iowa, where he became a radio announcer and sports broadcaster at Station WHO. In 1937 he went to California to report on the Chicago Cubs spring training season. While he was there, he took a screen test for Warner Brothers. The studio offered him a contract, and Reagan's acting career officially began.

Ronald Reagan made his film debut in Love is on the Air (1937). In that movie he played a radio announcer. His acting career continued from 1937 to 1964. He appeared in more than fifty feature films, most of them with Warner Brothers studio.

In 1938 he became an officer of the Screen Actors Guild. He was a good negotiator and was able to get the union the things that it wanted. In 1947 he was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild.

After his contract with Warner Brothers ended, he became the host (1954-1962) of a weekly dramatic series called the General Electric Theatre. He also starred in some of the shows in the series.

In 1962 he hosted another television program. It was a western series called "Death Valley Days." He also starred in some of the shows. He worked there until 1965.

When his television career finished, he ran for Governor of California in 1967. That was when he won his first public office. He was the Governor of California until 1975. He went on to be twice elected president of the United States.

Reagan is a man of diverse skills. His capacity to inform and entertain, served him both as a broadcaster and actor and as president.[From Bill Adler, Ronnie and Nancy; Ronnie Dugger, On Reagan; and Hedrick Smith, Reagan the Man.]

This battery-operated, radio was advertised as "specifically designed for unwired homes."
 Philco Radio Ad

ILLINOIS HISTORY / MARCH 1993 53


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