Feb. 6, 1911 Tampico Whiteside County Illinois, USA
Jun. 5, 2004 Bel Air Los Angeles County California, USA
40th United States President, Actor. Considered by many historians and political scientists as the one individual who most helped end the Cold War between the Western world and the Soviet Union and its allies (although this event occurred ten months after he left office). Born in the small town of Tampico, Illinois, he graduated from Eureka College, Illinois, in 1932 with a degree in economics and sociology. He landed a job as sportscaster for Radio station WOC in Davenport, Iowa, and later for WHO radio. Using his childhood nickname "Dutch," he broadcast Chicago Cubs baseball games. In 1937, he enlisted in the Army Reserve as a Private, and was soon promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. That same year, he took a screen test for Warner's Brothers Studio and became an actor, later making more than 50 films. He gained his second nickname "the Gipper" when he played legendary Notre Dame halfback George Gipp in the 1940 movie, "Knute Rockne, All American." In 1940, he married actress Jane Wyman. They had a daughter, Maureen, in 1941 and adopted a son, Michael, in 1945, but their marriage ended in divorce in 1948. During World War II, Reagan served on active duty, making some 400 training films for the Army. He was discharged as a Captain on December 9, 1945, to return to Hollywood. Becoming more involved in politics, he supported President Harry S. Truman's bid for reelection in 1948, but changed to Republican to support Dwight D. Eisenhower's bid for the presidency in 1952. On March 4, 1952, he married actress Nancy Davis, and they had two children, Ron and Patti. In 1964, he spoke for Barry Goldwater at the Republican National Convention, and came into the national spotlight. In 1966, he defeated Democrat Edmund Brown for Governor of California, which he held for 8 years. Making unsuccessful bids for Republican candidate for President in 1968 and 1976, he was successful in winning the nomination, and the election, in 1980. He easily won reelection in 1984, and his Vice President, George H.W. Bush, won the election of 1988. In 1989, the Berlin Wall, symbol of the Cold War between the United States and the USSR, fell, an act that is attributed to Reagan's earlier confrontation with communism. Within two years, the communist governments of Eastern Europe and the USSR had fallen to democratic forces. Several years after his retirement as President, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, a progressively active disease that robs a person of their memory and is eventually fatal.