40. Ronald Reagan

“The Great Communicator”

Presidential Basics

  • Full name: Ronald Wilson Reagan
  • Years in office: 1981–1989
  • Political party: Republican
  • Vice president: George H.W. Bush
  • Age at inauguration: 69
  • Nicknames: “The Great Communicator,” “Dutch,” “Ronnie Raygun,” “The Teflon President,” “The Gipper”

Random Trivia

  • The hard of hearing actor: Ronald Reagan lost some hearing in one ear while on set.  A gun was fired too close to his ear.
  • The first divorcee: Reagan was the first president to have been divorced.

Birth & Death


  • Father: John (Jack) Edward Reagan (1883–1941); Shoe salesman
  • Mother: Nellie Clyde Wilson (1883–1962)
  • First Wife: Jane Wyman (1914 – 2007)
  • First Marriage: January 26, 1940 in California
  • Second Wife: Nancy Davis (July 6, 1921 –)
  • Second Marriage: March 4, 1952 in California
  • Kids: Four
    • From First Wife:
    • Maureen Elizabeth (1941–2001)
    • Michael Edward (1945–)
    • From Second Wife:
    • Patricia Ann (1952–)
    • Ronald Prescott (1958–)
  • Home: Los Angeles, California

Other Facts

  • Height: 6’1″
  • Eye color: Blue
  • Ancestry: Irish, Scotch-English
  • Religion: Disciples of Christ
  • Born in a log cabin: No
  • Owned enslaved people: No
  • Freemason: No


  • College degree: Yes
  • College: Eureka College (graduated with B.A. 1932)


  • Military Service: Yes
  • Lawyer: No
  • Radio sportscaster (1932–1936)
  • Movie actor (1937–1957)
  • Officer in the U.S. Army Air Force (1942–1945)
  • Television host (1957–1965)
  • Governor of California (1966–1974)
  • Radio commentator, columnist (1974–)
  • President (1981–1989)
  • Writer


  • Where’s the Rest of Me?
  • The Creative Society
  • Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation
  • Speaking My Mind
  • An American Life


In 1980, the former governor of California, and famous actor, Ronald Reagan, faced the incumbent Jimmy Carter.  The two differed in Cold War policy, with Reagan favoring a more aggressive stance against Russia.  They differed in temperament, with Reagan taking on a more positive persona.  And they differed in economics, with Reagan claiming America was in a recession and in need of government intervention. Reagan gained a boost in televised debates, a clear advantage for the seasoned actor.  He won with 51% of the popular vote and 91% of the electoral vote.

President Reagan entered the election of 1984 with a high approval rating.  The economy was booming and the US appeared strong in foreign affairs.  The Democratic nominee, Walter Mondale, pointed out that the booming economy was fueled by large budget deficits, creating a non-sustainable growth.  Mondale also made Reagan’s age a campaign issue.  Reagan turned that to his advantage by famously stating, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign . . . I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”  Reagan won re-election by the same large margins as his first election.

Notable first: Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman nominee on a major party ticket when she was chosen as Walter Mondale’s running mate.

Campaign Poster

Reagan for President: Let’s Make America Great Again, poster, 1980 (I Agree to See)


© 2021 Periodic Presidents, PJ and Jamie Creek