100 Facts About Ronald Reagan

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Congress and the United States are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan. Here are some facts about the 40th President of the United States, one for each year of the centennial.

* Reagan was born Feb. 6, 1911.

* Nellie Wilson was the future president's mother.

* John Edward were the first and middle names of Reagan's father.

* When young Ronald was born, he already had an older brother named Neil.

* Reagan was born in Tampico, Ill.

* In 1920, the family settled in Dixon, Ill., which he later considered to be his hometown.

* Reagan got his nickname "Dutch" from his father, who called him a "fat little Dutchman."

* As a lifeguard at Lowell Park in Dixon, Reagan was credited with saving 77 lives during the seven summers he worked there starting in 1926.

* He graduated from Dixon High School in 1928.

* Reagan become interested in drama while attending Eureka College.

* His majors were economics and sociology while in college.

* In a foreshadowing of his later life, Reagan was elected student body president while attending Eureka.

* After graduating, Reagan's first experience with mass media came as a sports broadcaster in Davenport, Iowa.

* As an affiliate with NBC doing Chicago Cubs games, he received exposure as a national broadcaster in 1932.

* In 1937, he enlisted in the Army Reserve, achieving the rank of 2nd lieutenant.

* While in California covering the Cubs' spring training, an agent for Warner Bros. discovered Reagan and signed him to a seven-year contract, also in 1937.

* His debut film was "Love Is on the Air," in which he played a radio broadcaster uncovering corruption in a local government.

* Reagan would go on to be in films and movies for the next 27 years until he went into California politics.

* Reagan met his first wife Jane Wyman in 1938 while filming "Brother Rat."

* The film "Dark Victory" marked a turning point in Reagan's movie career in 1939. Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart starred in the film while the future president would have minor part.

* Reagan had another stellar year in 1940 when he was in "Knute Rockne: All American." The film would earn Reagan his nickname, "The Gipper."

* Wyman married her leading man in 1940.

* Their first child, Maureen, was born Jan 4, 1941.

* Another critically acclaimed performance came in 1942 with "Kings Row," which is about five young adults growing up at the turn of the century.

* Later in 1942, Reagan returned to military duty with the Army Air Force.

* Reagan was assigned to the 1st Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, Calif.

* In the Army, he made more than 400 training films until the war ended in 1945.

* In March of 1945, son Michael is adopted by the Reagans.

* Upon his return to film making, Reagan was elected the president of the Screen Actor's Guild for the first of five consecutive terms.

* Reagan also testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities Committee and aided in blacklisting many in Hollywood.

* Jane Wyman and Reagan divorced in 1948.

* A year later, he met Nancy Davis.

* Originally, Reagan was a Democrat and supported Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

* Nancy married Reagan on March 4, 1952. She was more conservative than her husband, which helped convince him to become a Republican later in life.

* Daughter Patricia was born Oct. 21, 1952.

* Reagan acted with his wife in the movie "Hellcats of the Navy" in 1957.

* The fourth child of the Reagan clan, Ronald Prescott (Ron), was born May 20, 1958.

* Reagan campaigned for Richard Nixon in 1960, giving more than 200 speeches.

* The future conservative president officially changed party affiliation to Republican in 1962.

* Reagan became nationally known as having political savvy when he gave speeches at various General Electric plants across the country.

* In California on Oct. 27, 1964, Reagan's political career began when he spoke in favor of Barry Goldwater.

* His 30-minute speech was called "A Time for Choosing." The Washington Post called it a remarkable political debut.

* The speech netted $1 million in donations to the Republican Party, making Reagan an instant celebrity among conservative voters.

* His autobiography entitled "Where's the Rest of Me?" was published in 1965. The title is from one of Reagan's movie lines.

* Reagan defeated incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Brown in the 1966 election in California.

* The landslide victory was by one million votes, unheard of in just one state.

* Reagan would be governor from 1967 until 1975.

* As his second term wound down, Reagan announced his candidacy for president Nov. 20, 1975.

* Gerald Ford won the Republican nomination over Reagan in 1976.

* While he didn't hold office, the future president stayed in the public eye by giving radio addresses and writing a regular newspaper column from 1976 until his next run for the White House.

* On Nov. 13, 1979, Reagan declared his candidacy.

* He dominated the Republican primaries in 1980, easily winning the nomination.

* Reagan chose the elder George Bush as his running mate to campaign against Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale.

* The Reagan/Bush ticket won on economic reforms, proposing a Constitutional ban on abortions and balancing the federal budget.

* Although the Republican ticket won slightly more than half the popular vote, the Electoral votes favored the GOP 489 to 49.

* Jan. 20, 1981, marked the first day the Reagan administration.

* On the same day, American hostages were released in Iran after being held for 444 days.

* Two months into his presidency, an assassination attempt by John Hinckley injured Reagan as a bullet punctured his lung and was one inch from his heart.

* The president moved quickly and decisively. Congress passed his tax bill July 29, 1981, which included a 25 percent tax cut.

* Some of Reagan's budget proposals included increasing military spending to $1.5 trillion over five years and decreasing funding to social welfare programs, such as food stamps and low-income housing.

* Federal air traffic controllers went on strike Aug. 3, 1981. Reagan fired those who didn't return to work within 48 hours.

* The president nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court in September 1981.

* Reagan dealt with his first economic crisis in the fall of 1982. More than 9 million Americans were unemployed (nearly 11 percent) and budget deficits inflate.

* First Lady Nancy Reagan's cause was "Just Say No" to drugs in preventing drug use and abuse in school age children.

* Reagan announced his Strategic Defense Initiative the following spring. It was dubbed "Star Wars" -- nuclear missiles could be shot down from Earth's orbit.

* In approaching the next presidential election, the Reagan/Bush ticket was nominated for a second term.

* Reagan was inaugurated again Jan 20, 1985, at age 73, the oldest person to hold the office.

* In an historic movie, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev held a summit with the U.S. president Nov. 19, 1985, and agree to meet again.

* Reagan spoke at the memorial to Challenger astronauts in early 1986. An iconic image of his second term, he hugs the families of the fallen.

* The Iran-Contra affair was made public in November 1986. A report later cites the president's passive style of management led to him unknowingly let his staff handle the reports of the illegal activity.

* Reagan admitted he made a "mistake" in March 1987 regarding the Iran-Contra affair.

* In his most famous address, the president challenged his Soviet counterpart to "tear down this wall" in a speech at the Brandenberg gate June 12, 1987.

* Six months later, Reagan and Gorbachev signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty in Washington.

* The Senate ratified the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty in May 1988, the first such treaty since 1972.

* Reagan gave his final address as president Jan. 11, 1988.

* He left office with the highest approval rating of any president since Franklin Roosevelt.

* After his time in office, Reagan retired to California with his wife Nancy.

* The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was dedicated Nov. 4, 1991, in Simi Valley, Calif.

* The National Airport, formerly called Dulles, was renamed in Reagan's honor in 1998.

* Reagan's last announced public appearance was his 83rd birthday celebration in 1994.

* He attended the funeral of Richard M. Nixon in April 1994, one of Reagan's last appearances in a formal setting.

* In a letter made public Nov. 5, 1994, Reagan disclosed he had Alzheimer's disease.

* A piece of the Berlin Wall resides at the Reagan National Library.

* The White House in miniature also is on display at the library.

* Despite his private struggle with Alzheimer's, Regan remained active in a daily routine as part of his regimen.

* Part of his active lifestyle was to play golf with his old friend, comedian and actor Bob Hope.

* Reagan suffered a broken hip and remained essentially home-bound for the last three and a half years of his life. He underwent hip surgery January 2001.

* Later that year, Maureen Reagan died Aug. 8, 2001, at age 60 after a long battle with cancer.

* Two years after leaving office, "An American Life" was published as an autobiography.

* Reagan died June 5, 2004, in his home in California.

* The cause of his death was complications due to Alzheimer's disease.

* Reagan was laid to rest in memorial gardens outside of his Presidential Library.

* George W. Bush eulogized his father's running mate at his state funeral in Washington by saying, "Ronald Reagan belongs to the ages now, but we preferred it when he belonged to us."

* Navy Capt. James A. Symonds of the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan presented Reagan's widow with the flag which draped the late president's coffin before his crypt was sealed. It was the same flag which flew aboard ship at the time of Reagan's death.

* The funeral in California occurred at sunset June 12, 2004.

* At his state funeral in Washington, D.C., 25 current heads of state attended.

* Former leaders attended Reagan's state funeral, including former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

* Actors who attended the service in California included Tom Selleck and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

* Son Michael Reagan hosts his own radio show and website called The Reagan Report.

* Approaching the centennial celebration, Ron Reagan Jr. says the president showed early signs of Alzheimer's in the waning years of his presidency.

* In 2009, with Nancy Reagan at his side, President Barack Obama signed the bill creating the Reagan Centennial Commission.

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