Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Remembering Ronald Reagan

Many Hollywood actors served in the military during World War II. Some, like Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable, took part in combat. Others were active stateside in public relations work. Among them was Ronald Reagan. When he was called up, he’d been filming Desperate Journey. His scenes were hurriedly filmed before he left.

Alan Hale, Ronald Reagan, Errol Flynn, and Ronald Sinclair played shot-down airmen trying to avoid capture in Desperate Journey.

Reagan had completed a series of home-study Army Extension Courses in 1935 and enlisted in the Army Enlisted Reserve in 1937. He became a private assigned to Troop B, 322nd Cavalry at Des Moines, Iowa. Two months later, he was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps of the cavalry.  He had just moved to Los Angeles to begin his film career when he accepted the commission and was assigned to the 323rd Cavalry.
 Lieutenant Reagan was ordered to active duty on 19 April 1942. Poor eyesight got him classified for limited service only, and kept him from serving overseas. In June, he transferred to the Army Air Force, and subsequently to the 1st Motion Picture Unit in Culver City, California. A year later, he was promoted to Captain.

By the end of the war, his units had produced some 400 training films for the Army Air Forces. He separated from active duty in December of 1945.
 How much do you remember Ronald Reagan? The latest book I’ve read is Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan by Michael Reagan. I remember many events of the Reagan presidency, but here’s an insider’s account of behind-the-scenes happenings. It was illuminating.
I hadn’t known Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman lost a premature daughter, Christine, which was a contributing factor to their divorce.
At the same time, in the years after World War II, communists tried to control Hollywood in a strike. Reagan was one of three reps for the Screen Actors Guild to negotiate. That led to his primary motivation to be president—so he could fight and defeat Soviet communism.
I remember the flap about Reagan taking naps, and was amused to learn he cultivated that image to lull opponents into underestimating him.
Michael Reagan believes his father didn’t win the Republican nomination in 1976 because none of his allies—Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and others—were in place.

 This is an insightful book that I recommend.


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