Ron Reagan in 2008
|Born||Ronald Prescott Reagan
May 20, 1958
Los Angeles, California, US
|Residence||Seattle, Washington, US|
|Occupation||Radio commentator, writer|
(m. 1980–2014; her death)
|Parents||Ronald (1911-2004) and Nancy (b. 1921) Reagan|
|Relatives||sister: Patti Davis (b. 1952)
half-sisters: Christine Reagan (1947),
Maureen Reagan (1941-2001)
adopted half-brother: Michael Reagan (b. 1945)
Ronald Prescott "Ron" Reagan (born May 20, 1958), is a former talk radio host and political analyst for KIRO radio and later, Air America Radio, where he hosted his own daily three-hour show. He is currently a commentator and contributor to programming on the MSNBC cable news and commentary network. He is notable for having liberal views, despite being the son of a conservative, President Ronald Reagan.
Reagan was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, later moving to Sacramento, while his father was governor of California from 1967-75. He has an older sister named Patti Davis, who is five and a half years his senior, and a brother named Michael Reagan, who was adopted as an infant by Ronald Reagan and his first wife, Jane Wyman. He also had two half-sisters, born to Reagan and Wyman who are deceased: Maureen Reagan (1941-2001), and Christine Reagan, who was born prematurely June 26, 1947 and died later the same day. Ron Reagan is the son of Ronald Reagan and his second wife, Nancy Davis Reagan.
Ron Reagan undertook a different philosophical and political path from his famous father at an early age. At 12, he became an atheist and told his parents that he wouldn't be going to church any more.
Reagan attended and was expelled from The Webb School of California. He commented:
:"They [the school administration] thought I was a bad influence on the other kids. As I recall, the immediate reason was I went to a dance at a neighboring girl’s school in a classmate’s car. This was an infraction. They had been looking for an excuse. I didn’t get caught at anything."
Reagan dropped out of Yale University in 1976 after one semester to become a ballet dancer. He joined the Joffrey Ballet in pursuit of his lifelong dream. Time wrote in 1980: "It is widely known that Ron's parents have not managed to see a single ballet performance of their son, who is clearly very good, having been selected to the Joffrey second company, and is their son nonetheless. Ron talks of his parents with much affection. But these absences are strange and go back a ways." President Reagan and Nancy went to see Ron perform at the Lisner Auditorium on Monday, May 18, 1981. President Reagan commented in his White House diary on this day that Ron's performance was reminiscent of Fred Astaire.
In 1986, while his father was president, Reagan hosted Saturday Night Live and performed his own version of the "underwear dance" made famous by Tom Cruise in Risky Business. His appearance made him the first and, so far, only child of a U.S. president to host the program.
Reagan became more politically active after his father left the White House in 1989. In contrast to the late president, the younger Reagan's views were decidedly liberal. In a 2009 Vanity Fair interview, Reagan said that he did not speak out politically during his father's term because the press "never cared about my opinions as such, only as they related to him [the president]", adding that he did not want to create the impression that he and his father were on bad terms because of political differences. In 1991, Reagan hosted The Ron Reagan Show, a syndicated late-night talk show addressing political issues of the day. However, it was canceled after a brief run, unable to compete with the higher ratings of The Arsenio Hall Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and Nightline.
Reagan has worked in recent years as a magazine journalist, and has hosted talk shows on cable TV networks such as the Animal Planet network. In Britain, he is best known for having co-presented Record Breakers (based on The Guinness Book of Records) for the BBC. Reagan presented a report from the United States each week.
He has served on the board of the Creative Coalition, an organization founded in 1989 by a group that included Susan Sarandon and Christopher Reeve, to politically mobilize entertainers and artists, generally for First Amendment rights, and causes such as arts advocacy and public education. From February to December 2005, Reagan co-hosted the talk show Connected: Coast to Coast with Monica Crowley on MSNBC.
In 2011, he published My Father at 100: A Memoir. In interviews promoting the book, Ron Reagan stated that during his father's presidency he (Ron) had noticed the president having certain mental lapses that, in hindsight, caused the younger Reagan to later surmise the elder Reagan may have been in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease with which the president was ultimately diagnosed. This assertion was heavily criticized by many political and media supporters of the president, as well as by Michael Reagan, and Ron Reagan subsequently stated that he does not feel that these alleged lapses were "dementia".
Reagan is a regular contributor to Hardball with Chris Matthews, and has presented the program on several occasions.
In an April 2003 interview, Reagan said, "The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he's in now. Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the 1980s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's—these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."
He was also strongly opposed to the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq. "9/11 gave the Bush people carte blanche to carry out their extreme agenda — and they didn't hesitate for a moment to use it," Reagan said. "By 9/12 Rumsfeld was saying, 'Let's hit Iraq.' They've used the war on terror to justify everything from tax cuts to Alaska oil drilling."
In July 2004, Reagan spoke at the Democratic National Convention about his support for lifting Bush's restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, from which he expected a cure or new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, of which his father had recently died: "There are those who would stand in the way of this remarkable future, who would deny the federal funding so crucial to basic research. A few of these folks, needless to say, are just grinding a political axe and they should be ashamed of themselves", Ron Reagan said of the restrictions. "We can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance, between true compassion and mere ideology." Reagan's mother, Nancy, is on record as supportive of this position.
In September 2004, he told the Sunday Herald newspaper that the Bush administration had "cheated to get into the White House. It's not something Americans ever want to think about their government. My sense of these people is that they don't have any respect for the public at large. They have a revolutionary mindset. I think they feel that anything they can do to prevail — lie, cheat, whatever — is justified by their revolutionary aims" and that he feared Bush was "hijacking" his father's reputation.
Reagan later wrote an essay titled "The Case Against George W. Bush by Ron Reagan" for Esquire. He was quoted as saying that he voted for Democratic Party candidate John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. On October 31, 2008, Reagan endorsed then–Illinois senator Barack Obama for president in the 2008 presidential election.
Reagan stated, in a 2004 New York Times interview, that he did not claim any religion, but that his sympathies were with Buddhism. In a June 23, 2004, interview on Larry King Live, while discussing reasons why he would not run for political office, Ron Reagan stated "I'm an atheist. ... I can't be elected to anything because polls all say that people won't elect an atheist."
In February 2010, he was named to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's Honorary Board of distinguished achievers. In May 2014 Reagan appeared in an advertisement for broadcast on Comedy Central for the Freedom From Religion Foundation in which he declared himself "an unabashed atheist" who is not afraid of Hell.
- "20 Questions: Ron Reagan", by Betsy Rothstein, The Hill, September 24, 2008.
- White House Diary: May 18, 1981, reaganlibrary.com; accessed September 2, 2014.
- Ron Reagan at the Internet Movie Database
- Profile, screenonline.org.uk; accessed September 2, 2014.
- "Reagan Joins Air America as Permanent Weeknight Host". Radio Online. September 4, 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-01-22. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- Ron Reagan (2011). My Father at 100. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-670-02259-5. OCLC 646111792.
- Colbert Report, January 18, 2011
- Nancy Reagan plea on stem cells. BBC News. May 10, 2004.
- Johnston, Jenifer. Reagan Junior Warns Bush: 'Stop Hijacking My Father's Reputation'. Sunday Herald. September 26, 2004.
- Reagan, Ron. Making It Official: I Endorse Barack Obama. Huffington Post. October 31, 2008.
- "Ron Reagan, not afraid to burn in hell, promotes atheism in TV spot". 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
- Solomon, Deborah (June 27, 2004). "The Son Also Rises". New York Times. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
- "Interview With Ron Reagan Jr.". Larry King Live (transcript). CNN.com. June 23, 2004. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- "Honorary FFRF Board Announced". Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "First 'atheist ad' on ‘Daily Show’, ‘Colbert Report’ features Ron Reagan". Freedom From Religion Foundation. May 20, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
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