President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan at the Inaugural Band Concert at Capital Centre in Washington, DC
Reagan White House Photographs
Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was an American politician and actor who served as the 40th President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he was the 33rd Governor of California from 1967 to 1975, following a career as a Hollywood actor and union leader. He was born in a poor family in small towns of northern Illinois. He graduated from Eureka College in 1932 and worked as a sports announcer on several regional radio stations. After moving to Hollywood in 1937, he became an actor and starred in a few major productions. Reagan was twice elected as President of the Screen Actors Guild, the labor union for actors, where he worked to root out Communist influence. In the 1950s, he moved into television and was a motivational speaker at General Electric factories. Having been a lifelong Democrat, his views changed. He became a conservative and in 1962 switched to the Republican Party. He was elected Governor of California in 1966. As governor, Reagan raised taxes, turned a state budget deficit to a surplus, challenged the protesters at the University of California, ordered National Guard troops in during a period of protest movements in 1969, and was re-elected in 1970. In 1980 he easily won the nomination, going on to be elected the oldest President, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980. Entering the presidency in 1981, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics", advocated tax rate reduction to spur economic growth, control of the money supply to curb inflation, economic deregulation, and reduction in government spending. He survived an assassination attempt. Foreign affairs dominated his second term, including ending of the Cold War, the bombing of Libya, and the Iran–Contra affair. Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", he transitioned Cold War policy from détente to rollback, by escalating an arms race with the USSR while engaging in talks with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, which culminated in the INF Treaty to cut nuclear arsenals. On December 26, 1991, nearly three years after he left office, the Soviet Union collapsed.