From the days of Abraham Lincoln, it is an instilled American belief that anyone, from any social status in life, can rise to the highest office of the country, that of President of the United States. Given this belief, then is it possible for a college football player turned actor to rise to governor of California, and then move on to the highest office?
Ronald Wilson Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 to Nelle and John Reagan in Tampico, Illinois. After high school graduation, he attended Eureka College, where he studied economics and sociology, played football and participated in school plays (President pp). When Reagan graduated from Eureka, he became a radio sports announcer, then in 1937 a screen test won him a contract in Hollywood, where during the next two decades he appeared in some fifty-three films (President pp).
Reagan's first marriage to actress Jane Wyman produced two children, Maureen and Michael and his second marriage to actress Nancy Davis also produced who children, Patricia Ann and Ronald Prescott (President pp). While president of the Screen Actors Guild, he become involved in disputes over the issue of Communism within the film industry, which ultimately shifted his political views from liberal to conservative and eventually led him to tour the country as a spokesman for conservatism (President pp). He was elected Governor of California in 1966 and was re-elected in 1970 (President pp).
Reagan writes that although he did not play much football during his first semester at Eureka, he did get his first taste of politics (Ronald pp). It was 1928, a year before the stock market crash and the Great Depression, yet in the Midwest, farmers were beginning to feel the pinch and the school was losing financial support and decided to impose cuts and lay off faculty (Ronald pp). Reagan was elected to represent the freshmen on a student committee that was formed to consider the possibility of call a strike, and was then chosen to present the proposal for the strike (Ronald pp). Reagan recalls that giving that first speech was as exciting as any he even gave: " For the first time in my life, I felt my words reach out and grab an audience, and it was exhilarating. When I'd say something, they'd roar after every sentence, sometimes every word, and after a while, it was as if the audience and I were one" (Ronald pp). Everyone then rose to their feet with thunderous applause, approving the strike and resulting in the college president's resignation (Ronald pp).
Reagan continued his studies and continued playing football throughout his terms at Eureka. In 1932, his senior year, the college hired a new English professor with a flare for teaching dramatics and Reagan began to act in school plays (Ronald pp). When the school placed second in a drama contest, the head of Northwestern's Speech Department told Reagan that he should consider acting as a career, and the acting bug was firmly planted in young Reagan (Ronald pp). However, instead of heading to Hollywood or New York after graduation, Reagan went to Chicago, the center of radio broadcasting (Ronald pp).
Radio had created a new profession, the sports announcer who reported play-by-play football games and had become as famous as many Hollywood stars and often more famous than the athletes they reported on (Ronald pp). So Reagan hitchhiked to Chicago, however, without experience he was met with rejection at every turn (Ronald pp). He then sought out stations outside Chicago, and finally landed a job at WOC in Davenport Iowa as a sports announcer for five dollars plus bus fare (Ronald pp).
He was later switched to staff announcer, playing records, reading commercials, and serving as a vocal bridge between local and network broadcasts, earning $100 a month (Ronald pp). Then the sister station in Des Moines, WHO, hired him to broadcast the Drake Relays, and a few weeks later, the Palmer Company received a permit for a 50,000-wat clear channel station in Des Moines and overnight become one of the most powerful NBC stations in the country (Ronald pp). At twenty-two, Reagan was hired as the sports announcer, earning seventy-five dollars a week in the middle of the Depression, and gained famed throughout the Midwest (Ronald pp). This fame brought numerous invitations for speaking engagements that provided extra income that he sent back home to his parents (Ronald pp).