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Ronald Reagan: Much More Than an Actor

Posted by RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 @ 10:30 AM

reagan

RONALD REAGAN (1911-2004)
OUR 40TH PRESIDENT (1981-1989)

Interesting man, Ronald Reagan. Considered one of America’s most personable presidents, Reagan is perhaps best-remembered for his fiscal and social policies. And, of course, for his acting career. But there are details about our 40th president most living Americans never knew – or at least don’t recall today.

It was as an actor that Reagan “starred” in his first presidential role. He served on the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild for several years, beginning in 1941, and was elected SAG president in 1947. He remained in that position until 1952 and was elected for a reprise engagement in 1959. During those years, he helped guide the Guild as the organization grappled with multiple labor and management disputes.

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When Ronald Reagan first took his seat on the SAG Board, he was actually in the military, having been commissioned into the Army Enlisted Reserve as a second lieutenant in 1937. But he was still working as an actor. However, that ended when he was called up for active duty in April of 1942. Poor eyesight kept him from the front lines in Europe, but the Army put his Hollywood skills to use instead. As part of the First Motion Picture Unit based in Culver City, California, he worked on more than 400 Army Air Force training films. He went back to acting when he mustered out in 1945.

These days, Ronald Reagan is held up as the quintessential icon of the Republican Party. But he wasn’t always a Republican. In fact, in his early days as a Democrat he actively supported Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies. But his true beliefs caught up with him after the War. As he put it, he didn’t leave the Democratic Party so much as it left him. He planned to formalize his party switch in 1960 but Republican leaders convinced him to wait, so he could campaign as a “Democrat for Nixon.”

Reagan.Nixon.Carter.Ford.

FIRST PHOTOGRAPH OF FOUR U.S. PRESIDENTS (REAGAN, FORD, CARTER, NIXON) TOGETHER IN THE WHITE HOUSE - OCT 8, 1981 - PART OF THE RALEIGH DeGEER AMYX COLLECTION

As a prominent representative of the motion picture industry – both as SAG President and as a popular actor – Reagan served as an informant for the FBI, helping them ferret out avowed or alleged Communists within the film community. The names of those he fingered have reportedly been redacted from Reagan’s official FBI file.

Because Reagan was so useful, J. Edgar Hoover himself tried to give his early political career a boost. Realizing that Reagan’s adopted son Michael had unwittingly become friends with the son of a known mobster, Hoover tipped off Reagan so he could privately warn his son. This happened not long before he announced his intention to run for Governor of California, enabling Reagan to campaign without the potential taint of mob affiliation.

reagan

RONALD AND NANCY REAGAN

In today’s news, the process of Supreme Court nominations is a hot topic. While Reagan was President, he nominated no less than five prospective Supreme Court Justice. Robert Bork and Ruth Ginsburg were not confirmed, but three Reagan nominees did become members of the nation’s highest court – Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor, our first woman Justice.

On a very different note, Ronald Reagan had a lesser-known side as a “softie.” When citizens would write to him as President and reveal their financial problems, he often would respond by sending personal checks for several thousand dollars to help them out. He even used his Commander-in-Chief status to order Air Force jets into service to transport children who needed kidney surgery.

While he was in office, Reagan was once asked how an actor could be president. His response? “How can a president not be an actor?”

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World renowned collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx has acquired a remarkable number of scarce or rare pieces of official White House China. Mr. Amyx’s passion for American historical artifacts has been his sole focus for more than 35 years. Mr. Amyx's collection is the largest privately-owned collection of extremely high-quality, as well as the rarest, Official White House China and Presidential China in the world. If you would like to engage in a discussion with Mr. Amyx about White House China, please contact him through the button below.

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