Ronald Reagan’s Pre-Presidential Time Line, 1911-1980




Feb 6              Born in Tampico, IL to Jack and Nelle Reagan.  His older brother Neil [Moon] was born in 1908.




Dec. 6             After a series of homes in the South side of Chicago, Galesburg, Monmouth, and Tampico, the Reagans settled in Dixon, IL, the place Ronald Reagan considered his home town.




Summer         Was employed as a life guard at Lowell Park in Dixon, where, in the next seven summers, he was credited with saving 77 lives.                                                                                                   Ronald Reagan as a life guard.




June                Graduated from Dixon High School, where he participated in basketball, drama, football and track.  He also served as student body president.




June                Graduated from Eureka College with a B.A. degree in Economics and Sociology. He participated in drama, football and swimming.  He also served as student body president and helped organize a student strike.


Fall                  Supported, with his father, Franklin D. Roosevelt for President.


December      Got a job as a temporary staff announcer at station WOC in Davenport, Iowa.




April                When WOC and WHO, in Des Moines, merged, Reagan moved to Des Moines as

chief sports announcer and a permanent job.  He would broadcast Chicago Cub home games based on telegraph reports from Wrigley Field.




Feb. 27           Enlisted as a private in the Army Reserve.




Mar. 15           While attending Spring training, on Catalina Island, with the Chicago Cubs, he made a screen test for Warner Bros.


Apr. 20           Signed as a contract player for Warner Bros.


Apr. 27           Promoted to Second Lieutenant in the Reserve Corps of Cavalry.


Jun. 7              Reported to the studio for his first motion picture, Love is on the Air.




Jan. 26           Married Jane Wyman, who he had met while filming Brother Rat.


September     Played George Gipp in Knute Rockne - All American.




Jan. 4              Maureen Reagan was born.


Sep.17           Reagan was an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


September     Played Drake McHugh in Kings Row, his most artistically acclaimed role.  In this picture, he uttered the line, “Where’s the rest of me?”




Apr. 19           Called to active duty and reported to Fort Mason, CA.  Later he was transferred to the Army Air Forces and assigned to the 1st Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, CA.  Called “Fort Roach,” this unit made over 400 training films with Reagan




Jan. 14           Promoted to First Lieutenant.


Jul. 22             Promoted to Captain.




Feb. 2             Recommended for promotion to Major.


Mar. 14           Birth of Reagan and Wyman’s adopted son, Michael.


Jul. 17             Promotion to Major disapproved.


Aug. 21           Signed a million dollar contract with Warner Bros.


Dec. 9             Discharged from the Army.




March             Elected President of the Screen Actors Guild for the first time.  He would be re-elected for five more consecutive one year terms. 


Jun. 4              Made That Hagen Girl, his personal least liked role.


Oct. 25            Testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee.




Sep. 23          Introduced Harry Truman at a campaign rally in Los Angeles.




Jun. 28            Reagan and Jane Wyman divorce was final.



Wrote guest columns for Victor Riesel, the labor columnist.


April                Supported Helen Gahagen Douglas for U.S. Senator, but in the Fall switched his support to Richard Nixon.


Dec. 7             Made his first television network debut in Nash Airflyte Theatre.  He would eventually have over sixty television credits.



Appeared in Bedtime for Bonzo for Universal.




Mar. 4             Married Nancy Davis.


June                Made the commencement address, America the Beautiful at William Woods College.


Played Grover Cleveland Alexander in The Winning Team, his last picture for Warner Bros.


Oct. 22            Patricia Reagan was born.


Fall                  Campaigned as a Democrat for Eisenhower.




May 2              Named Honorary Mayor of Malibu Lake.




Sep. 26          His first appearance on GE Theatre. He accepted a job as host and occasional star of GE Theatre, and as spokesman for the General Electric Company.  This allowed him to tour the country, giving speeches.



Named Honorary Mayor of Thousand Oaks, but was disappointed in his unsuccessful bid to be Honorary Mayor of Hollywood.



Campaigned again as a Democrat for Eisenhower.



Appeared, with Nancy Davis, in Hellcats of the Navy, their first and only picture together.




May 28           Ronald Prescott (“Skipper”) Reagan was born.




November      Elected President of the Screen Actors Guild for the last time.




Feb. 9             Dedication of the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. Reagan’s star is among the original stars that were unveiled on that day.


July                  After strike negotiations were over, Reagan resigned as President of Screen Actors Guild, and he and Nancy, later, resigned from the Board.


Fall                  Campaigned for Richard Nixon as a Democrat for Nixon.




Feb. 5             Made a grand jury appearance in the MCA-SAG anti-trust hearing.


March             General Electric decided to discontinue GE Theatre because of low ratings. 

Reagans last appearance was broadcast on August 26, 1962.


Fall                  Officially changed his party registration to Republican.



Became host of Death Valley Days, replacing  The Old Ranger,” Stanley Andrews.  He appeared in or hosted twenty-one episodes, which were broadcast from 1965-1966.


Reagan portrayed the villain in The Killers, his last motion picture.  Originally made for television, it was too violent and was released in movie theaters.


Oct. 27            Reagan’s televised speech for Barry Goldwater, A Time for Choosing, launched his political career.


November      “Friends of Ronald Reagan,” a political support group, formed



Publication of Reagan’s autobiography, Where’s the Rest of Me.


Resigned as host of Death Valley Days.




November      Reagan defeated Edmund G. “Pat” Brown in a landslide.  His success

in the election and as governor, made him a leading presidential nomination contender in 1968.




Jan. 2              Inaugurated as Governor of California in a small midnight ceremony.


Jan. 5              Public celebration of Inaugural as Governor, including Inaugural Address.




August            Reagan waited until the Republican Convention in Miami Beach to announce his candidacy for President.  Unsuccessful, he joined in the unanimous support for Richard Nixon for President.




May 15           Sent in the National Guard to the University of California campus in Berkeley to restore order, after “a state of emergency” was declared in response to student unrest.




November      Won re-election for Governor over Jesse Unruh, The Speaker of the State Assembly.                      



Signed the California Welfare Reform Act, whose purpose was to reduce welfare rolls.




Fall                  A consulting and public relations firm, founded by Michael Deaver and Peter Hannaford, began to book speeches, newspaper columns, and radio commentaries for Reagan.


Fall                  Reagan declined offers from the Ford Administration to become Ambassador to the Court of St.James, Secretary of Transportation and, later, Secretary of Commerce.




Nov. 20           Announced his candidacy for President for the 1976 election.  He would lose the race for the nomination but his strong showing laid the groundwork for the 1980 election.




Aug. 19           Addressed the Republican National Convention in Kansas City.




Nov. 13           Announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President. 

He was the tenth and last Republican to enter the race.




Feb. 23           “Ambush at Nashua” debate with George Bush.  Debate also included Anderson, Baker, Crane, Dole as well as Bush.


Mar. 18           Republican debate in Chicago with Bush, Anderson, and Crane.


Apr. 24           Republican debate in Houston with George Bush.


Jul. 16             Reagan won the nomination for President at the Republican National Convention in Detroit.


Jul. 16             Gerald Ford, who decided not to contest the nomination, was offered the post of Vice President on the “dream ticket,” but declined the nomination in a face-to-face meeting with Reagan.


Jul 16              Spurned by Ford, Reagan offered the Vice President nomination to George Bush.


Sep. 21          Reagan - Anderson Presidential Debate.  Carter declined to participate.


Oct. 28            Reagan - Carter Debate.


Nov 4              In a landslide victory, Reagan was elected the 40th President of the United States.