Ron Reagan in 2008
|Born||Ronald Prescott Reagan
May 20, 1958
Los Angeles, California
|Other names||Ronald Reagan, Jr.|
Retired ballet dancer
|Spouse(s)||Doria Palmieri (since 1980)|
|Parents||Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan|
|Relatives||sister: Patti Reagan, half-siblings: Michael Reagan, Maureen Reagan(deceased), Christine Reagan(deceased)|
Ronald Prescott Reagan (born May 28, 1958 in Los Angeles, California), usually known as Ron Reagan and sometimes as Ronald Reagan, Jr., is the son of the former President of the United States Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. He is currently a political pundit for the cable television network MSNBC, and was a talk radio host and chief political analyst for KIRO radio in Seattle until his show was canceled on August 8, 2007. On September 8, 2008, The Ron Reagan Show made its debut as an Air America Media radio show; the program was a three hour daily show airing from 6–9 PM (ET) and was momentarily cancelled when Air America went bankrupt on January 21, 2010. The show is still heard in syndication. He is notable for his liberal or progressive views, which contrast with the conservative views held by his father.
Reagan grew up in Los Angeles and then Sacramento, while his father was Governor of California from 1967 to 1975. He has a sister, Patti Davis, five and a half years his senior, and a half-brother, Michael Reagan, who was adopted as an infant by Ronald Reagan and his first wife, Jane Wyman. He also had two half-sisters who were born to Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman and who are deceased: Maureen Reagan and Christine Reagan, who was born prematurely June 26, 1947 and died later that same day.
Reagan began going down 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 was expelled from The Webb Schools of California, a private prep school. He comments:
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." Ron Sr. and Nancy Reagan did come once to see him perform at the Met.
President Reagan and Nancy went to see Ron Reagan Jr. perform at the Lisner Auditorium on Monday, May 18th 1981. President Reagan commented in his White House diary on this day that Ron's performance was reminiscent of Fred Astaire, very high praise indeed for someone of Mr. Reagans Sr's generation.
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 SNL.
Reagan became more politically active once his father left the White House in 1989. In contrast to the former 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 was the host of 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 USA each week.
He currently serves 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.
During the 2007 holiday season, Reagan hosted the Neiman Marcus/Children's Hospital of Dallas' Christmas Parade.
Air America Media, until its demise in 2010 aired The Ron Reagan Show from 6pm to 9pm EST. The program made its debut on September 8, 2008. The radio program is still heard nationally in syndication.
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 '80s. 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, a form of research which could lead to 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 candidate John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.
In a June 26, 2004, interview on Larry King Live, while discussing reasons why he would not run for political office, Ron Reagan stated "I'm an atheist... polls all say that, you know, people won't elect an atheist."