Did You Know?

Big Winner
Reagan won election as governor of California in 1966 by nearly 1 million votes, defeating incumbent Pat Brown by the largest plurality by which a sitting governor had ever been defeated. In his 1980 bid for the presidency against Jimmy Carter, Reagan won by the largest number of electoral votes of any candidate in American history: 489 to 49.

His Golden Moment
Reagan never won an Academy Award, but he did win a Golden Globe Award for Hollywood Citizenship in 1957.

In the Army Now
Reagan joined the Army in 1942, but his poor eyesight prohibited him from battle duty. As a lieutenant and, later, a captain, he oversaw the making of movies that trained soldiers for battle.

Jelly Beans
Ronald Reagan brought a new stylishness to the humble jelly bean. He had started eating the chewy candies when he quit smoking in the 1960s, and began having them available during meetings when he was governor of California, a tradition he continued in the White House during Cabinet meetings. Forty million jelly beans were eaten at the parties held to celebrate Reagan's first inauguration.

Monkey Business
One of the last movies Reagan made was Bedtime for Bonzo. His co-star was a chimpanzee named Bonzo.

Reagan has at least two well-known nicknames. His family called him "Dutch," a name he got from his father, who announced the first time he saw his new son that he looked like a "fat little Dutchman." More publicly, Reagan was often referred to as "the Gipper," a nickname he got from his role as football player George Gipp in the film Knute Rockne -- All American.

Only Reagan
Reagan is the only president who:

  • headed a labor union (Screen Actors Guild)
  • was divorced
  • was an actor
  • served out two complete terms (since Eisenhower)

They Ought to Be in Pictures
Although both Reagan and his wife, Nancy, were actors, they only worked on one movie together -- Hellcats of the Navy -- in 1957, the last film in which Nancy appeared before she retired to dedicate herself full-time to her family.

Who's the Boss?
Reagan invoked the rock star Bruce Springsteen ("The Boss") and his song "Born in the U.S.A." while campaigning in 1984. But Springsteen didn't like being quoted by Reagan, saying that instead of it being "morning in America," as Reagan claimed in his TV ad, he'd seen places where "It's midnight, and like, there's a bad moon risin'."

To find more film resources and classroom activities, visit the Teacher's Guide for Reagan.

My American Experience

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Share Your Story

Who was your favorite 20th-century American president? Was it FDR? Kennedy? Reagan? Or one of the other 14 men who helped usher the United Sates through the 1900s? Who do you think was the most influential?

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