Ronald Wilson Reagan
(February 6, 1911 — June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States, serving from 1981 to 1989
. He was the sixteenth from the Republican Party, serving between Jimmy Carter
and George H.W. Bush
. Reagan is well-known for moving the country to the right politically, socially, and economically, and for his efforts to end the Cold War.
Yes, he's the actor who became President. However, many of the jokes about that don't work very well, since, when his political career commenced in 1966, he was only the "former actor who's running for Governor of California
". After he vacated that office, he became known as the "former two-term Republican Governor of California who's running for President." People today will more likely know Reagan as the conservative guy who was President in The Eighties
. You usually either love or hate him
. If you see someone in a film or TV show talking about how great Reagan was, then it's a surefire indication that the character is a Republican or someone with conservative right-wing leanings. Conversely, if you see someone in a film or TV show disparaging Reagan, expect the character to hold mainly left-of-center beliefs. (There do exist Democrats who think fondly of him
, known as "Blue Dogs" or "Reagan Democrats", and there are also self-described conservatives who dislike him, mostly for his support for policies that they do not think are truly conservative
, such as tripling the National Debt, giving amnesty to over 3 million undocumented immigrants, overseeing the largest peacetime tax increase in American history, and selling military weapons
). British media substitute Margaret Thatcher
for Reagan to precisely the same effect. Reagan's other use in popular culture is to evoke the 1980's, so expect him to be referenced in anything set in a Popular History
version of that decade.
Fun fact: Reagan used to be a member of the Democratic Party. He also was very, very addicted to jelly beans. He started eating them when he quit smoking
, and he seriously had jelly bean cup-holders placed on government planes. When he won in 1980, he wanted a jelly bean flag of red, white, and blue to be created to the occasion. There were no blue-colored jelly beans at the time, so the Jelly Belly company created the blueberry flavor specifically for the ceremony. It ended up becoming one of their most popular flavors. Surely this was one of his finest accomplishments.
Please be cool and use the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment
Reagan's Movie Career:
There is a story that Ronald Reagan was playing Trivial Pursuit
with his staff aboard Air Force One, and received the question "Who said 'I am the Errol Flynn
?'". Reagan correctly answered "I did." In any case, the Errol Flynn quote is accurate, and reflected Reagan's dissatisfaction over his movie career, which rarely provided the good parts that Reagan wanted, as he typically ended up playing the archetypical "the hero's best friend/sidekick" character.
Ronald Reagan made his film debut in a picture called Love Is on the Air
in 1937. His first big break was a supporting part in the Bette Davis
prestige drama Dark Victory
(1939), but that part unfortunately failed to lift him out of the B-movie ghetto. In 1940, he played real-life American Football Player George "The Gipper" Gipp in the movie Knute Rockne, All American
(about a Notre Dame football coach), which featured the line, "Win One For The Gipper
." "The Gipper" became one of Reagan's nicknames. He was ineligible for combat duty in World War II
due to extreme nearsightedness, so Reagan spent much of the war making Army training films.
Another film Reagan famously played in was the comedy movie Bedtime for Bonzo
, in which he costarred with a chimpanzee
in a standard Ain't No Rule
story. Reagan always displayed a sense of humor about this movie; he's famously said to have once signed a promo photo of himself and Bonzo with the inscription "I'm the one with the wristwatch.") During his Presidency, when Clint Eastwood
was running for Mayor of Carmel, California, Reagan jokingly telephoned Eastwood and quipped "What's an actor who once appeared with a monkey in a movie doing in politics?", referring to Eastwood's role in Every Which Way But Loose
and having some Self-Deprecating Humor
at the same time. He viewed That Hagen Girl
, a 1947 melodrama co-starring Shirley Temple
, as his real Old Shame
. It's even rumored that Reagan tried to suppress or destroy copies of that film.
There's also a common story that he was originally slated to star in Casablanca
, which derives from a claim made by the Warner Bros. publicity office while promoting his film Kings Row
. Like many similar claims made by the Warner Bros. publicity office during the period, it has no basis in fact.
His most famous role was probably in the 1942 film Kings Row
, which contains the famous line: "Where's the rest of me?" (his character had lost both of his legs
.) Where's The Rest Of Me?
was the title of his 1965 autobiography. He had a memorable Playing Against Type
role as a brutal crime kingpin in his last film, The Killers
Reagan provided examples of:
Reagan in fiction:
Anime and Manga
- Reagan appears in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns as a disturbingly shrunken and senile wretch who's stayed in office 20 years longer than is legal.
- In The DCU, wannabe superhero Michael Jon "Booster" Carter, calling himself Goldstar, traveled back in time to 1986 and managed to save Reagan from an assassination attempt. When Ronnie asked him his name, he responded "Boost... er, Gold...," and was forever more known as Booster Gold. Also, in the Crisis Crossover Legends, Reagan apparently faces down a group of armed gunmen breaking into the Oval Office. "You have five seconds to surrender yourselves!" (Gunfire to Reagan's chest ... with no effect beside Clothing Damage.) "Now you have two seconds!" It's revealed to be a disguised Martian Manhunter acting as a decoy.
- Issue #344 of Captain America had The Viper using a serum she got from Slithers (a minor X-Man villain) turning Ronald and Nancy into Brainwashed and Crazy serpent-men with the rest of Washington, DC in an earlier stage of the transformation. The Captain (as he was known at the time because of a dispute with the government) didn't manage to stop the plot before throwing down with the suddenly scaly Commander-In-Chief who was clad only in his underwear. Reagan even used old glory as a weapon during the fight. While Cap was preoccupied with the president, Viper was able to make a Villain Exit Stage Left but she was not able to get very far before she was stopped and defeated by Cobra (who is usually an enemy of The Mighty Thor). He said it was payback for Cap helping Sidewinder retake control of the Serpent Society and had nothing to do with his political affiliation.
- In the 1980's Action Comics ran a Deadman storyline in which at one point Deadman and the Devil drop in at a Washington soiree, possess Reagan and Gorbachev, respectively, then switch to Mrs. Gorbachev and Mrs. Reagan, respectively. And then◊ they fight◊.
- Mortadelo y Filemón: Reagan shows up in several albums written in The Eighties ("El Cacao Espacial", "La Perra de las Galaxias" and "Los Ángeles 84").
- In Watchmen (an Alternate History where Richard Nixon is still president), editors at a right-wing newspaper mock the idea of a "cowboy actor" like Robert Redford running for president; the film dispenses with subtlety and has them mocking the idea of Reagan himself running, despite the fact that he would be eight years older on taking office and probably beginning to show signs of Alzheimer's, not to mention losing some of the original irony. The film dialogue rewords it as just "a cowboy running for President", turning it into a dig at someone a little more recent.
- Reagan is frequently disparaged by the narrator of John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany.
- The Salmon of Doubt In Douglas Adams' posthumous collection, a short story starring Zaphod ends with the revelation that Ronald Reagan is an escaped alien-engineered weapon of mass political destruction, and that the aliens responsible will have to make the Earth 'safe, perfectly safe'.
- So Long And Thanks For All The Fish featured "Know-Nothing Bozo the Non-Wonder Dog", so named "due to a remarkable similarity to the American President". The dog's owner and his friends would play a game with the dog where they would shout "Commies!" repeatedly and watch as the dog went berserk.
- In Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, one of the characters, Susannah is transported from the America of 1964 into a fantasy world. When she meets Eddie, who came from 1987, she doesn't believe that Reagan is the president by then, and thinks he's just kidding.
- In Frederik Pohl's The Coming of the Quantum Cats, an alternate Ronald Reagan exists in two of the universes. In one, he's a former actor viewed as a subversive by the government. In the other, he's the First Gentleman — Nancy Reagan is president.
- Inasmuch as The Kite Runner is based around the events in Afghanistan from the 1970s up to the present day, Ronald Reagan's election is mentioned. Amir's father Baba is a huge supporter, going out and buying a poster of Reagan the day after the "Evil Empire" speech.
- He appears in A World of Laughter, a World of Tears as the Excited Kids' Show Host for The Mickey Mouse Club.
- The Cthulhu Mythos story, A Colder War, by Charles Stross has Reagan accidentally causing The End of the World as We Know It, by jokingly saying "We'll starting bombing in fifteen minutes!" during a speech in Finland. This leads to the Soviet Union, as well as the warring states of Iraq and Iran, panicking and unleasing their horrifying Magitek weapons they got from studying Cthulhu and Soggoths, but still don't fully understand. The US quickly retaliate by lauching their own horrifying weapons they don't fully understand either, which they got from studing leftovers from the Elder Things, and soon humanity is utterly doomed.
- The vast majority of songs about Ronald Reagan came from pretty much every punk band from the 1980's (not even an exaggeration, most bands had at least one song about him; although exceptions to the anti-Reagan songwriting trend exist, they're hard to come by). Notable examples include:
- "Reagan's In" by Wasted Youth
- "We've Got a Bigger Problem Now" and "Rambozo the Clown" by Dead Kennedys
- "Reaganomics" by D.R.I.
- "Fascist" by The Minutemen
- "Fucked Up Ronnie" by D.O.A.
- "I Shot the Devil" by Suicidal Tendencies
- "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" by The Ramones, a track criticizing Reagan for making an official visit to a German cemetery where a number of Nazi SS officers were buried. This track is especially notable because the band included lifelong Republican Johnny Ramone, who was absolutely infuriated with this song.
- "Battalions of Fear" by German metal band Blind Guardian is about his policies. As you can probably guess by the title, it's not positive.
- Michael Jackson appeared with Ron and Nancy in a Rose Garden photo op. Reagan honored Michael for allowing the "Just Say No" campaign to use the song "Beat It" in an ad. According to the Jackson biography, The Magic and the Madness The First Lady found Michael somewhat peculiar but attractive. To say that this was controversial would be... an overstatement.
- The music video for The Minutemen's "This Ain't No Picnic" included clips of Ronald Reagan from a war film. The clips were edited to make it look like Ronald Reagan was shooting at and bombing The Minutemen from a fighter plane.
- Rich Little did a fictious appeal to minority voters as Reagan rapping and Nancy on Bass. "Rappin' Ronnie"
- "Secret Service Freedom Fighting USA" by The World/Inferno Friendship Society is often introduced during live shows as being titled "I shot President Ronald Reagan, AND I'M GONNA DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN!" The song itself is supposedly based on an incident from the lead singer's teenage years, when (unaware that Reagan was making an appearance a few towns over) he shouted that during a prank call and was subsequently arrested.
- Genesis' video of 'Land of Confusion' uses Spitting Image and their puppets, including that of Reagan as a would-be superhero.
- Owl City uses part of Ronald Reagan's famous speech about the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle as an intro to the song "Galaxies", which is a tribute to the twenty-fifth anniversary of the tragedy.
- Frank Zappa was a very vocal critic or Reagan's administration and devoted several protest songs against him.
- Huey Freeman is convinced that Ronald Reagan is really The Antichrist. This is based on actual conspiracy theories by some black militants, citing, among their reasons, the fact that his first, middle, and last names All had six letters.
- In a 1981 series of Bloom County strips, Santa's elves go on strike; Reagan (who is never depicted but heard as a voice on a TV seen from the side) fires them all and replaces with scabs, breaking the union. Any resemblance to the 1981 air traffic controllers' strike is purely intentional.
- In the musical Assassins, John Hinckley Jr. shoots Reagan as an act of love for Jodie Foster. Reagan survives. Like the other assassination attempts, it's presented as a carnival game, with a buzzer sounding every time Hinckley fails to kill the president, and the Proprietor mocking him with Reagan's various quips.
Hinckley: He died so our love could live!
'Reagan': Sorry, Nancy, I forgot to duck.
'Reagan': I sure hope that's surgeon's a Republican.
'Reagan': Where'd that kid learn to shoot, the Russian army?
'Reagan': There you go again.
- The 1984 off-Broadway musical Rap Master Ronnie, co-written by Elizabeth Swados and Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, satirizes key Reagan administration events and individuals. A movie version was released in 1988.
- Sometime in the eighties, Ronald Reagan was kidnapped by Ninjas. Fortunately, there were some dudes who were bad enough to rescue him, so they did, and then went out for a hamburger (specifically, you get to watch President Ronnie eat one in front of you. What the hell, Ronnie?).
- The heroes of the Engrish-laden classic Battle Rangers also set out to save president Ronnie from a boomerang-tossing despot.
- "Senile Reagan in a Bikini" was the original cohost of the game show segment in Bushgame, a politically-charged spinoff of the Emogame series. Out of... respect(?) after Reagan's death, the character became the more lucid "John Snow".
- Ronald Reagan appears in the cut scenes that precede the 1980s missions in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
- In The Simpsons:
- In a brief cutaway gag in the episode Lisa the Beauty Queen Reagan is one of the heads seen stuck on a pole in the Chamber of Horrors section of the Springfield Wax Museum.
- Members of the Springfield Republican Party mention that they have a mission to rename everything after Reagan. (For example, all schools named in Millard Fillmore's honor will be transferred to Reagan's.)
- Homer's "Rappin' Ronnie Reagan" tape. This is actually a Shout-Out to Rich Little's "Rappin' Ronnie", a fictious appeal to minority voters with Ron rapping and Nancy on Bass. Watch it here
- When seeing Homer's Barbershop Quartet, The Be Sharps, sing at the Statue of Liberty's Centennial Anniversary, Reagan turns to wife Nancy and remarks, "Damn ceremonies. This is time I could be working, Mommy."
- Mr. Burns is partly based on Mr. Reagan.
- Similar to the above Simpson example, the penultimate episode of Mission Hill has Kevin mentioning that the location of the supermarket Super Pig in his home suburb has changed its name to Ronald Reagan Parkway rather than FDR Parkway.
- In The Boondocks, Reagan is depicted as being incredibly anti-Civil Rights by other characters to the point that the revolutionary extremist Huey states that "Ronald Reagan is the devil." Black-hating black man Ruckus however idolizes him for this ideal, who in his dreams stated that he spent his life attempting to make life miserable for black people.
- Family Guy:
- Reagan is depicted in episode "Peter's Got Woods", saying his "Tear down this wall" line and then beating on a brick wall with his bare fists while repeatedly yelling "REAGAN SMASH!". It turns out it was the wall of a McDonald's and the workers inside comment that it was nothing to be concerned about, and that he tends to wear himself out quickly. He is then seen curling up like a child, muttering "Reagan sleepy..."
- The episode "Family Gay" implied he and Gorbachev were gay lovers.
- In an Animaniacs episode, "De-Zanitized," Reagan appears in Scratchansniff's flashback, taking place when he was an actor, and tells the doctor about his dream where he becomes president. Scratchansniff deems him incurable. May be a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment. The episode came out in 1993, a year before he revealed his Alzheimer's.
- He is often referred to on King of the Hill, being one of Hank's two leading presidential heroes (the other being LBJ, who for obvious reasons serves as the only Democrat whom Hank holds in such high esteem).
Hank: Now go do a report on a real president.
Bobby: But which president should I … [Hank glares] … Ronald Reagan.
Jan: Chaperoning? Nice job, Ronald Reagan.
McB: Hey, don't call me that!
Hank: Yeah, don't call him that!
- Reagan (and his cabinet) as badass commando superhero(es).
- One episode of Tiny Toon Adventures featured Buster and Babs going to Washington to request aid against a Moral Guardian lady that sucked up Acme Acres' residents' "tooniness". The bunnies go to the Lincoln Memorial for guidance, and seem to hear Abraham Lincoln's voice coming from the statue, urging them not to give up. They walk off, inspired, not knowing that it's just Ronnie in his pajamas, talking to his teddy bear.
- In the "Rap-unzel" episode of the ALFTales cartoon, Reagan (in Melmaccian form) is the doddering, clueless royal father of Prince Gordon, and is finally convinced by him to set up a Federal Communications Commission to foil the Evil Witch's broadcasting monopoly.
- American Dad!:
- Stan Smith worships Reagan more than he does Jesus (and he already does a lot of that). At one point, he asks Nancy Reagan what her husband would have done in a difficult situation. Nancy performs a mocking seance and sends him on his way.
- The first Christmas Episode, "The Best Christmas Story Never", has Stan going back in time to the 1970's to try and kill Jane Fonda for "ruining Christmas", but along the way he makes changes which snowball into Reagan losing the 1984 election to Walter Mondalenote , who handed control of the country over to the Soviet Union less than two months into his presidency. At the end of the episode, after going back in time and failing to set things exactly as they were before, Stan has to shoot Reagan himself.
- A recurring troublemaker on China Il. First stealing a CIA time machine to go back and crap in Steve's mouth for mocking him on an 80's kid talent show. Then assisting Frank and Baby Cakes in finding Thomas Jefferson's crystal palace, which makes him President For Life.
REAGAN SMASH! REAGAN SMASH!