Michael Deaver

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Michael Deaver
Michael Deaver 1981 BW.jpg
White House Deputy Chief of Staff
In office
January 20, 1981 – May 1985
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byLandon Butler
Succeeded byKen Duberstein
Personal details
Michael Keith Deaver

(1938-04-11)April 11, 1938
Bakersfield, California, U.S.
DiedAugust 18, 2007(2007-08-18) (aged 69)
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationSan Jose State University (BA)
"The Troika" (from left to right) Chief of Staff James Baker, Counselor to the President Ed Meese, Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver at the White House, December 2, 1981

Michael Keith Deaver (April 11, 1938 – August 18, 2007) was a member of President Ronald Reagan's White House staff serving as White House Deputy Chief of Staff under James Baker III and Donald Regan from January 1981 until May 1985.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Deaver was born in Bakersfield, California, the son of Marian (née Mack) and Paul Sperling Deaver, a Shell Oil Co. distributor.[3] He graduated from Desert High School at Edwards AFB, California in 1956. He received his bachelor's degree in political science from San Jose State College (now San Jose State University).[4][5] Deaver was initiated and a member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity at San José State.

He worked for IBM, served in the United States Air Force, and later was executive director of the Santa Clara County Republican Party. While Ronald Reagan was running for governor of California, Deaver worked as a political field representative for the California Republican Party, running several state assembly campaigns. After being elected governor, Reagan's chief of staff recruited Deaver to the administration, where he began a 30-year career working for Reagan and building a very close friendship with him and with Nancy Reagan. According to Kitty Kelley, his work for the latter earned him the disparaging nicknames of "Nancy's Nancy" and "Lord of the Chamber Pot."[6]

Deaver formed his own consulting company after Reagan's term as governor, where Reagan and his upcoming presidential campaigns were among his clients. Accompanying Reagan on his campaign plane in 1976, Deaver performed the Heimlich maneuver on the candidate in order to dislodge a peanut stuck in his throat and reportedly saved the future President's life.[7] Though initially he disliked the idea of moving to Washington, D.C., he ultimately agreed and was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff under President Reagan in 1981.[4] He principally had responsibility for the president's schedule of events and speeches, and public relations.

White House career[edit]

While serving on Reagan's staff, Deaver worked closely with Chief of Staff James Baker and Counselor to the President Ed Meese. They were known as "The Troika" by some observers of the White House due to their influence over policy while they served on the White House staff.

As Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House, Deaver worked primarily on media management forming how the public perceived Reagan, sometimes by engineering press events so that the White House set the networks' agenda for covering the president.

On March 30, 1981, Deaver stood feet away from John Hinckley as he fired at Reagan, wounding him. Deaver later supported Nancy Reagan in the hospital as she arrived.

Deaver resigned from the White House staff in May 1985.

Perjury conviction[edit]

On March 18, 1987, Deaver was convicted of perjury for congressional testimony he had submitted.[8][9] He was convicted on three of five counts of perjury stemming from statements to a congressional subcommittee and federal grand jury investigating his lobbying activities with administration officials. Deaver blamed alcoholism for lapses in memory and judgment. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but the sentence was reduced to three years of probation and a fine of $100,000. Deaver was also ordered to perform 1,500 hours of public service. In the final days of Reagan's presidency the question of a pardon arose, but Reagan noted in his diaries that Deaver indicated he would not accept a pardon.[10]

Later life and death[edit]

Shortly after Deaver resigned from the White House, he formed Michael K. Deaver, Inc. and became a lobbyist. For a time he was in business with another Reagan aide, Peter D. Hannaford in a public relations firm named Deaver and Hannaford.[11]

In his later years, he wrote three books: Behind the Scenes (1988; co-written with Mickey Herskowitz), A Different Drummer: My Thirty Years with Ronald Reagan (2001; foreword by Nancy Reagan), and Nancy: A Portrait of My Years with Nancy Reagan (2004). In 2005, he edited and published a collection of essays titled Why I Am a Reagan Conservative.[5]

Deaver also worked at the Washington, D.C. office of Edelman, a public relations agency, a role he held from 1992 to 2006, ultimately as chairman of the D.C. office.[4][5] In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2001, Deaver said, "I've always said the only thing I did is light [Reagan] well... My job was filling up the space around the head. I didn't make Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan made me."[12] According to former First Lady and longtime friend Nancy Reagan, Deaver's greatest skill "was in arranging what were known as good visuals — televised events or scenes that would leave a powerful symbolic image in people's minds."[12] In 2006, Deaver was awarded an honorary degree from Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala City, Guatemala.[13]

Deaver died of pancreatic cancer on August 18, 2007, at age 69 at his home in Maryland.[14] He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and their two children, Amanda Deaver of Washington, D.C., and Blair Deaver of Bend, Oregon.[4] In a statement, Nancy Reagan, said: "[Deaver] was the closest of friends to both Ronnie and me in many ways, and he was like a son to Ronnie... We met great challenges together... I will miss Mike terribly."[15]


  1. ^ "Michael Deaver". nndb.com.
  2. ^ "PART OF OUR LIFE-SUPPORT SYSTEM'". The New York Times. 13 May 1985. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  3. ^ HighBeam
  4. ^ a b c d "Michael Deaver, aide to Ronald Reagan, dies". CNN. August 18, 2007. Archived from the original on August 19, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  5. ^ a b c Deaver Timeline Archived 2009-07-08 at the Wayback Machine, Edelman website. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
  6. ^ Kelley, Kitty (2011). Nancy Reagan : the Unauthorized Biography. 3M Company. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 337. ISBN 978-1-4516-7476-7. OCLC 869431021.
  7. ^ Sullivan, Patricia (August 19, 2007). "Reagan Image-Maker Changed American Politics". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  8. ^ "Guide to Federal Records, Michael Deaver". National Archives. Retrieved 2007-09-07.
  9. ^ [1] | Deaver Is Sentenced To Suspended Term And $100,000 Fine | PHILIP SHENON | SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES | [2]
  10. ^ "Archives - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ "A Register of the Peter Hannaford Papers, 1949–2009". oac.cdlib.org. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Longtime Reagan Adviser Michael Deaver Dies From Cancer". Fox News. August 19, 2007.
  13. ^ "Doctorado Honorífico a Michael K. Deaver durante el Acto de Graduación". University website. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
  14. ^ Sullivan, Patricia; Schudel, Matt (August 18, 2007). "Reagan Adviser Michael Deaver Dies at 69". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  15. ^ Obituaries | Death Notices | Newspaper Obituaries | Online Obituaries | Newspaper Death Notices | Online Death Notices

External links[edit]