Ron Reagan

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This article is about the political commentator. For the former president of the United States, see Ronald Reagan. For the Florida state representative, see Ron Reagan (Florida representative).
Ron Reagan
Ron Reagan in 2008
Ron Reagan in 2008
Born Ronald Prescott Reagan
(1958-05-20) May 20, 1958 (age 57)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Residence Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Education Yale University
(one semester)
Occupation Radio commentator, writer
Spouse(s) Doria Palmieri
(m. 1980–2014; her death)
Parent(s) Ronald Reagan (1911–2004)
Nancy Davis (b. 1921)
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 an American 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 a commentator and contributor to programming on the MSNBC cable news and commentary network. He is noted for his liberal views, despite being the son of former Republican United States President Ronald Reagan.

Early life[edit]

Reagan was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, the son of Ronald Reagan and his second wife, Nancy Davis Reagan. He moved to Sacramento while his father was governor of California from 1967 to 1975. His sister Patti Davis is five and a half years older. His brother Michael Reagan, adopted as an infant by Ronald Reagan and his first wife Jane Wyman, is 13 years older than he is. He also had two half-sisters born to Reagan and Wyman: Maureen Reagan (1941–2001) and Christine Reagan, who was born prematurely June 26, 1947 and died later the same day.

Ron Reagan undertook a different philosophical and political path from his father at an early age. At 12, he became an atheist and told his parents that he would not be going to church anymore.[1]

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."[1]

Reagan dropped out of Yale University in 1976 after one semester to become a ballet dancer.[1] 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.[2]


Reagan became more politically active after his father left the White House in 1989. In contrast to the 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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[3]

Air America Media, until its demise in 2010, aired The Ron Reagan Show from 6–9 p.m. (EST). The program made its debut on September 8, 2008.[5]

In 2011, he published My Father at 100: A Memoir.[6] In interviews promoting the book, Ron Reagan described noticing 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 criticized by 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".[7]

Political activities[edit]

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."[8] Reagan's mother Nancy also supports this position.[9]

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.[10]

Reagan later wrote the essay "The Case Against George W. Bush by Ron Reagan"[11] for Esquire. He was quoted as saying that he voted for Democratic Party candidate John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. Reagan endorsed then-Illinois senator Barack Obama for president in the 2008 presidential election[12] and Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders in 2015.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Ron Reagan lives in Seattle.[1] He married Doria Palmieri, a clinical psychologist, in 1980. She died in 2014.[14]

Reagan stated, in a 2004 New York Times interview, that he did not claim any religion, but that his sympathies were with Buddhism.[15] 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."[16]

In February 2010, he was named to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's Honorary Board of distinguished achievers.[17]

In January 2011, he was called an "embarrassment" by his brother, Michael Reagan, for speculating in a memoir that their father suffered from Alzheimer’s disease while president.[18]

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," and one who is not afraid of "burning in Hell."[19]


  1. ^ a b c d "20 Questions: Ron Reagan", by Betsy Rothstein, The Hill, September 24, 2008.
  2. ^ White House Diary: May 18, 1981,; accessed September 2, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Ron Reagan at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Profile,; accessed September 2, 2014.
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ Ron Reagan (2011). My Father at 100. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-670-02259-5. OCLC 646111792. 
  7. ^ Colbert Report, January 18, 2011
  8. ^ "Ron Reagan's Speech to the Democratic National Convention". New York Times. Jul 27, 2004. Retrieved Sep 13, 2015. 
  9. ^ Nancy Reagan plea on stem cells. BBC News. May 10, 2004.
  10. ^ Johnston, Jenifer. Reagan Junior Warns Bush: 'Stop Hijacking My Father's Reputation'⁠. Sunday Herald. September 26, 2004.
  11. ^ Reagan, Ron (2004). "The Case Against George W. Bush". Esquire. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  12. ^ Reagan, Ron. Making It Official: I Endorse Barack Obama. Huffington Post. October 31, 2008.
  13. ^ Ralph, Elizabeth. "‘Look in the Mirror, Fat Boy’ Ronald Reagan’s sons discuss Donald Trump and 2016.". Politico. Retrieved September 16, 2015.  line feed character in |title= at position 30 (help)
  14. ^ "Ron Reagan, not afraid to burn in hell, promotes atheism in TV spot". 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  15. ^ Solomon, Deborah (June 27, 2004). "The Son Also Rises". New York Times. Retrieved August 30, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Interview With Ron Reagan Jr.". Larry King Live (transcript). June 23, 2004. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  17. ^ "Honorary FFRF Board Announced". Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  18. ^ Hohmann, James (Jan 15, 2011). "Mike Reagan calls brother, Ron Reagan, an 'embarrassment'". Politico. Retrieved Oct 15, 2014. 
  19. ^ "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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