Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 39th President of the United States (1977-1981), the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975) and prior to that, a radio, film and television actor.
Reagan was born in Tampico in Whiteside County, Illinois, reared in Dixon in Lee County, Illinois, and educated at Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and sociology. Upon his graduation, Reagan first moved to Iowa to work as a radio broadcaster and then in 1937 to Los Angeles, California. He began a career as an actor, first in films and later television, appearing in over 50 movie productions and earning enough success to become a famous, publicly recognized figure. Some of his most notable roles are in Knute Rockne, All American and Kings Row.
Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and later spokesman for General Electric (GE); his start in politics occurred during his work for GE. Originally a member of the Democratic Party, he switched to the Republican Party in 1962. After delivering a rousing speech in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential candidacy in 1964, he was persuaded to seek the California governorship, winning two years later and again in 1970. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968, but won both the nomination and election, defeating Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter in 1976.
As president, Reagan presided over a period of hyperinflation. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics," faced heavy opposition from a Democrat controlled Congress, which stonewalled most of his conservative legislative agenda. In his term he took a hard line against labor unions, presided over an energy and hostage crisis, supported anti-Communist regimes while condemning Soviet aggression, and ordered covert-military actions in Iran and Nicaragua.
By 1980, his popularity had eroded, and after a hard fought campaign lost reelection to California Governor Jerry Brown.
In 1994, the former president disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier in the year; he died ten years later at the age of 93.