If only Ronald Reagan had been a better actor, our world might be a brighter place today.
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Although it’s been thirty-three years and six presidents since Ronald Reagan left office, in many ways, we’re now living in the hell that he created. Extreme wealth inequality not seen since the Gilded Age, $23 trillion in national debt, deregulation run rampant, stock buybacks that artificially bloat the market, disempowered labor unions, CEOs who earn 400 times more than their employees yet pay no taxes, absurdly expensive college tuitions, the mentally ill on the streets instead of in hospitals – these atrocities and more can be traced back to Reagan’s two terms as President, from 1981 to 1989. His profit-over-people, every-man-for-himself ethos has saturated all sectors of society, until Americans are consumers first and human beings second. He didn’t do it alone: every president since Reagan has failed to part ways with his playbook. What Ronnie set in motion has become the norm.
Over the past forty years, the backbone of Reaganomics known as “trickle-down economics” has, conversely, trickled so much money up from the pockets of the poor into the accounts of the already wealthy that Abigail Disney and other billionaires have banded together to beg Washington for more taxes on the rich. How bad must the state of the nation be for this wild turn of events to develop? And what led to all of this in the first place? The answer lies at the summit of Hollywood’s golden empire, when an undistinguished contract player first started pulling behind-the-scenes strings to get his way.
The old studio system was a well-oiled machine in the spring of 1937 when Illinois native Ronald Wilson Reagan hit town, and he was the perfect cog to fit unobtrusively within it. Only in this milieu, only in this specific time and place, could a man with little acting experience and even less talent obtain a steady, well-paid job as a professional actor. A former high school athlete and sports commentator, Reagan couldn’t sing, he couldn’t dance, and he had no significant dramatic prowess. Scores of others were handsomer, sexier, and wittier. But this tall twenty-six-year-old was clean-cut, agreeable, well-spoken, and conveyed an undeniable affability on camera.
Like all the major studios, Warner Bros. was always rolling the dice on new talent. Hollywood’s 1930s business model required a large stable of performers not seasoned enough for the big time but serviceable enough for bit roles in A pictures or leads in the low-budget B pictures shown second on double bills. Enter Reagan, who was screen-tested and signed to a standard seven-year contract at $200 per week. The contract carried a three-month probation period and gave the studio the option to drop him after six months, so nothing was guaranteed. But Ronnie got lucky. The studio saw him as a replacement for Ross Alexander, a rising Warners star who had recently committed suicide. Filling an urgent need, Reagan was rushed through hair and makeup to make his film debut in the romantic comedy-drama Love Is on the Air (1937).
What Reagan lacks in spontaneity as a valiant radio announcer, he makes up for with oodles of complaisance and sheer nervous energy. Despite Bert Harlen considering the newcomer “not at ease” in the early scenes, the Hollywood Spectator critic ultimately gave him a passing grade. “It can be said that he clicked with the audience,” he wrote. The terms “pleasing” and “capable” were bandied about by other reviewers. No raves, but Reagan had hit the Hollywood ground running. Major roles in ten – yes, ten – B features followed in 1938.
As an insecure kid from a poor Midwestern family in the Great Depression, he must have felt he hit the jackpot. He started spending the money required to live like a star: dapper new suits, an opulent home, a shiny convertible (the “pride of my life,” he called it), evenings in all the swankiest nightclubs, and the added expense of moving his parents from Des Moines to Los Angeles. He even hired his father at full salary to handle his fan mail. (Jack Reagan, incidentally, had spent the early years of the Depression unemployed until Roosevelt’s New Deal provided him a job.) Ronald staked a great deal on his speculative success, later admitting, “I couldn’t take [a layoff] because of all my expenses.”
In 1939, he supported queen of the Warner Bros. lot Bette Davis in the melodrama masterpiece Dark Victory. His performance as her eternally inebriated suitor Alec doesn’t exactly ruin the movie, but acting alongside the overpowering Davis does him no favors. Although Reagan’s father was a real-life alcoholic, he fails to use this experience to inject realism, or even a hint of tragicomic irony, into the role. In his drunk scenes, he affects sleepy mannerisms and slurs his words like a kid playing drunk in a high school play. Whether Alec is sloshed or sober, Reagan recites the dialogue as though he’s reading it from cue cards. He is just photogenic enough, just nonthreatening enough to squeak by. He later blamed his failings on director Edmund Goulding’s suggestion that he portray Alec as gay, a characterization Reagan opposed. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that in his first big A picture he proved himself adequate, nothing more. Ronnie, however, had an ace up his sleeve.
Executive producer of Warners’ B unit, Bryan Foy was known as “King of the Bs,” and he was known to have Chicago Mafia ties, mainly in the form of his best buddy, convicted criminal and Al Capone associate John Rosselli. If Reagan failed to get steady roles or was threatened with a layoff, he would go to “Brynie” and ask a favor, he recalled in his autobiography. Foy “would pick up the phone, call a couple of his henchmen, and actually get a picture going on four or five days’ notice – just to put me back on salary.” For a mediocre Hollywood talent trying to live like an A-lister, it helped to have friends in low places.
And it didn’t hurt that a random turn of events worked in his favor. In 1940, MCA gobbled up the small William Meiklejohn Agency, which represented Reagan, and suddenly his career was handled by the powerful Lew Wasserman. Like Foy, Wasserman and MCA were rumored to be rooted in the Chicago mob scene. The agency’s actual dealings with Mafioso – at least during its formative years in the 1920s and ’30s – are the undocumented stuff of legend, but MCA indisputably rose to prominence using shady tactics like intimidating nightclub owners, promising payoffs for under-the-table favors, monopolizing the talent-booking industry, and tax evasion.
Thanks to such monkey business, after four years of ascending the ranks, Reagan’s salary octupled to $1,650 per week and he achieved a fair share of fame. In December 1941, his fan mail rose to second place at the studio, behind Errol Flynn’s and slightly ahead of James Cagney’s. Mob connections alone did not make Reagan a celebrity. If that were possible, any stage-door Johnny with organized crime cronies could muscle his way into Hollywood stardom. The public liked Ronnie – especially those who lived in rural areas and small towns.
His breakthrough was a supporting role he had lobbied hard to get: Notre Dame halfback George “The Gipper” Gipp in Knute Rockne, All American (1940), a certified hit that put him on the studio’s radar. Even though the critics barely noticed him (Variety misspelled his name as “Regan” and made no comment on his performance), he was subsequently given meatier roles in better films. The historical western Santa Fe Trail (1940) cast him as George Armstrong Custer alongside Warners’ top star Errol Flynn, and Sam Wood’s Oscar-nominated Kings Row (1942) was the biggest opportunity of his career.
The complex small-town drama presented Reagan with his greatest challenge yet: expressing the shock and horror of railroad worker Drake McHugh, whose legs are unnecessarily amputated after an accident. When he wakes to discover the loss, Drake screams, “Where’s the rest of me?” An apprehensive Reagan knew he “had neither the experience nor the talent to fake it,” so he pushed himself out of his comfort zone; he talked to paraplegics, met with physicians and psychologists, rehearsed endlessly before mirrors, and employed some proto-Method acting on the set, when his legs were bound in a box below the mattress. After an hour of pretending his legs were actually missing – aided by Reagan’s actual panic over his big scene – he delivered an authentic cry of trauma on the first take. Expressing such realism in Drake’s angry and anguished moments, Reagan can be forgiven for his rushed line delivery in lighter scenes. Overall, he gives an effective performance in Kings Row, one he was so proud of that he titled his 1965 autobiography Where’s the Rest of Me?
When the cameras weren’t rolling, Reagan caroused with his share of actresses, but in the public eye he brandished a Boy Scout image. While his costar Flynn was descending into debauchery and rocking the studio with his scandalous statutory rape trial, Reagan was respectably honeymooning with Warners workmate Jane Wyman. He was well-liked in the industry, sometimes gently mocked for his naïveté and his aversion to heavy drinking, but never hated. Oddly, “affable” is the word virtually all of his associates used to describe him. “Ronald Reagan’s a very affable fellow,” observed his colleague Dana Andrews. “Of course, it’s a lot of bullshit, but it works. I don’t think he’s a vicious man, but I think if it would get him a job, he would kiss ass anytime. But he’ll do it pleasantly.”
In the World War II adventure Desperate Journey (1942), Reagan blends sufficiently, if blandly, into an ensemble that includes Errol Flynn, Arthur Kennedy, and Alan Hale as a group of cheeky Allied POWs escaping their Nazi captors. As tough-talking Johnny Hammond, he delivers a wisecrack after a moment of tension, when the POWs fear they’ve been discovered aboard a German train: “We thought you were the men from the finance company, pull up a swastika and sit down.” Reagan runs these two sentences together as though he’s trying to get them over with quickly, stifling any chance for actual humor with his lackadaisical yet mechanical delivery, like an automaton doling out a nickel’s worth of entertainment and nothing more. In Desperate Journey, “Flynn and Reagan,” Los Angeles Times critic Philip K. Scheuer yawned, “are just themselves.”
Reviewers were always hard-pressed to summon kind remarks for Ronald Reagan films. For Juke Girl (1942), the best the New York Times could manage was the terse declaration “Reagan is stanch,” resurrecting an archaic variant of staunch that is suspiciously similar to stench. Some critics didn’t even try to hold back. Frank S. Nugent described Brother Rat and a Baby (1940) as “a series of desperate and uninspired improvisation [that] demonstrates how horrible dormitory fun can be when carried over, inexcusably, into an adult world.” Ouch.
Though he appeared in some moronic movies, Reagan was no moron. He not only knew he was a second-rate actor, but he easily identified his primary weakness: “I just lack personality when I read. The words make sense, but the lines don’t sound as if they are coming from a real live character.” While he could coast through lightweight material, his wooden line delivery wreaked havoc on heavy drama. He had worked extremely hard to attain a degree of emotional realism in Kings Row, but was apparently unwilling to subject himself to such turmoil for every performance. He already had fame and money without the extra effort, so why push any harder? Or maybe he suspected that no matter how much force he applied, he was unlikely to rival Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, or Cagney, who imbued even routine roles in forgettable pictures with jolts of genuine feeling. As biographer H. W. Brands put it, “The simple fact was that Reagan wasn’t temperamentally suited to serious acting.”
Compare Reagan to his friend William Holden. Both hailed from Illinois, both served in World War II, both were active in SAG politics, both Republicans. Like Reagan, Holden had much to learn when he started in the movies. His first starring performance in 1939’s Golden Boy was criticized as amateurish, but as he matured so did his acting. Although his request for overseas combat was denied, he served in the Air Force in Texas and lost his brother Bob, whose plane was shot down over the Pacific. These experiences left their imprint on Holden, who returned from duty with a newfound cynicism that suited him, a sharp edge that drove psychological crime dramas like The Dark Past (1948). More complexity, hints of self-loathing, and dark humor emerged in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950) and Stalag 17 (1953), as Holden shed the final traces of superficiality and revealed a raw realism that earned him a Best Actor Oscar in 1954. Finally, the politically conservative actor embraced the changing times in Sam Peckinpah’s violent counterculture western The Wild Bunch (1969), and was lauded by a whole new generation for his gruff TV executive Max Schumacher in Sidney Lumet’s Network (1976).
Reagan also served stateside when the US entered the war. Exempted from fighting overseas due to his myopia, he spent a few years in Culver City narrating Army training films, a fairly comfortable experience that did nothing to enrich his dramatic skills. No world-weariness creeps in, no added depth or dimension appears. Even to the kindest critical eye, he not only fails to progress but actually regresses from the glimmer of authenticity he revealed in Kings Row to a lackluster, going-through-the-motions quality that smacks of sleepwalking. This Is the Army (1943) finds him indicating his feelings without appearing to genuinely feel anything, and bereft of the youthful energy that buoyed his early performances. As typical American soldier Johnny Jones, he displays only a few bursts of natural charm when he flirts with his fresh-faced eighteen-year-old costar, Joan Leslie. In one sense, Reagan succeeds in This Is the Army because he’s little more than a hollow shell of an everyman, an empty vessel moviegoers could fill up with their own personalities, feelings, and thoughts. But an encroaching discontent is palpable beneath the flickering Technicolor façade.
The interruption of a world war caused Reagan to lose his already precarious histrionic footing and never find it again, a case of unfortunate timing. Whatever momentum he had built by his 1940–1942 peak was long expired by the postwar years – along with his waning celebrity status. He was thirty-five and forced to start from scratch again, finding it impossible to compete with the heartthrob crop, the Van Johnsons and the Frank Sinatras. His plan to sustain his fame involved riding the coattails of bigger names, such as Humphrey Bogart, his slated costar for the 1947 western Stallion Road. When Bogart dropped out, Reagan was crestfallen because “Bogey was practically number one box office, and I was looking for a free ride,” he admitted.
One could argue that Hollywood had already given him a free ride. Thanks to the slick Lew Wasserman, Reagan earned what he called “handsome money” throughout the 1940s even though he was far from a sought-after talent. He also insisted on quitting work at five or six every day, although other cast and crew often stayed later. Who can blame him, when he and Jane returned each evening to a custom-built five-bedroom, seven-bathroom estate in the Hollywood Hills complete with pool, tennis courts, wine cellar, and a “Balinese-style pool house,” not to mention their weekend ranch in the San Fernando Valley, fully stocked with pricey thoroughbred horses and a valuable gun collection. Not too shabby for a man with no exceptional abilities.
The disastrous misfire That Hagen Girl (1947) might have been the death knell for a greater star than Reagan – in fact, it killed Shirley Temple’s acting career for good – but he managed to escape relatively unscathed by the incestuous undercurrents of the melodrama. To his credit, he never wanted to make the film, and it’s obvious by the pained expression on his face in every frame. He was so humiliated by That Hagen Girl that later, after he attained political power, he quietly had prints of it removed from storage facilities, hoping to erase it from existence. (Fortunately for film history, it still exists.) After another bomb, The Voice of the Turtle (1947), his bankability declined and he floundered, cozily under contract but directionless.
As his movie career stalled, he clung to politics as a life raft. In 1947, Reagan was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, a position that consumed him so completely that Jane Wyman filed for divorce in 1948, telling the press, “There was nothing left to sustain our marriage.” This was the darkest period in his life. Not coincidentally, this is also when he became a rabid anti-Communist, even though he considered himself a liberal Democrat. As biographer Lou Cannon said in 2004, “I think that one of the reasons that his clashes with people who were real or perceived Communists in Hollywood meant so much to him is that they occurred at a time in his life when he was unhappy for other reasons.”
Dissatisfied with his life, Reagan looked around for someone to blame. He found a group of people he could scapegoat for all the evils of the world: Communists. The actual threat of a Communist takeover in postwar America was virtually nonexistent, but that didn’t stop the House Un-American Activities Committee from destroying many a Hollywood career with its accusations. And Reagan jumped right on the bandwagon. By late ’47, he was willingly testifying for HUAC and, later, forcing SAG members to take loyalty oaths against Communism, a practice Kirk Douglas decried as “just so much crap.” Other SAG members were less vocal about their disapproval, fearing they would be labeled “Red.”
After twelve years under contract and no recent hits under his belt, one would expect Reagan to be dropped from the Warner Bros. roster or relegated to bit parts. But thanks to the all-powerful MCA, in 1949 his contract was revised to be non-exclusive (yet more lucrative), and that April he signed a second contract to do five movies a year at Universal-International, too. Just when any other performer would be washed up, Reagan was thriving – and his surprising success was not unrelated to his SAG presidency. MCA knew that Reagan’s guild power would come in handy, and they were doing him endless favors.
Once he met, courted, and married the ultra-conservative actress Nancy Davis and she joined him on the SAG board, Reagan started the slow switch from Democrat to Republican. “Nancy’s a very ambitious woman,” observed Arthur Park, Reagan’s agent after Wasserman became head of MCA. “She’s been very important in promoting Ronald Reagan’s activities politically from the time she married him. She wanted to be the First Lady. Definitely.” With Nancy urging him on, politics became his primary focus. But making movies still paid the bills.
The touching wartime classic The Hasty Heart (1949) proves what Reagan could still accomplish with a good script (by Ranald MacDougall) and a solid director (Vincent Sherman). As always, he suffers from a few monotone line readings, but this actually works in his favor as he portrays “Yank,” a surly smart-ass with an endless supply of searing one-liners. “Do you know what that means?” the nurse (Patricia Neal) asks Yank after explaining that the disagreeable Lachie (Richard Todd) was born to unwed parents (making him legally a bastard). “He sure is,” Reagan mutters after a perfectly timed beat. Whether it was because he felt invested in this particular project or due to the character’s similarity to his own personality, Reagan nails the part of Yank. Unfortunately, although it was critically acclaimed, The Hasty Heart fared poorly at the box office. It would be his last memorable motion picture before he started scraping the bottom of the barrel.
During his presidency in the 1980s, Reagan’s detractors often cited his 1950s turkeys – especially the family comedy Bedtime for Bonzo (1951) – as proof of his ineptitude, but he actually navigates the thankless role of daddy to a chimpanzee as well as could be expected of any man. Neither Reagan nor Bonzo are quite as abysmal as some have suggested, but this was merely one in a string of feeble films. Even in those with Technicolor-friendly budgets and top costars – such as She’s Working Her Way through College (1952) with Virginia Mayo and Cattle Queen of Montana with Barbara Stanwyck (1954) – Reagan enacts leading roles as though he’s coasting through cameo appearances as himself. For any viewer intrepid enough to watch these movies today, it becomes immediately clear that his heart wasn’t in acting after the war. Maybe it never had been. Yet he kept right on churning out a steady stream of mediocrity.
Why not just quit acting and move on? For one thing, he was in deep financial trouble with the IRS after years of living beyond his means and buying whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it, without paying the high tax rate he referred to as “evil,” never seeming to realize how fortunate he was to fall into the highest possible income bracket. For another, he had a desperate need to keep the fame machine rolling at all costs, even if his career was on life support. He had grown accustomed to the public eye, the Hollywood lifestyle, and the satisfying sound of his own voice. “I always knew one thing about Ronnie – that he liked to talk,” friend Bob Hope said. His costar Rhonda Fleming echoed this when she recalled the spell Reagan cast over the crew of Hong Kong (1952) as he held court orating on set. “But the excitement of the man far diminished,” she observed, “when he began to perform as an actor, saying someone else’s lines.” Apparently, Reagan was electrifying until the director called “Action!” and then the power dimmed.
If he lacked the emotional firepower required for acting in his twenties and thirties, he certainly couldn’t muster it in middle age. He wasn’t dynamic or alluring enough to follow the Clark Gable path and remain a leading man until he died; once he sprouted a few gray hairs, even the trifling roles dried up for Reagan. Cue MCA to the rescue! The agency snared him a fat contract headlining a Las Vegas nightclub, though he was stumped to find material for his ten-minute set. As he was neither comedian nor dancer nor singer, he spent a few weeks standing on a stage introducing other acts before pocketing the proceeds and calling it quits.
Then came the big payoff. As host of the television series General Electric Theater, Reagan appeared on TV regularly, but didn’t have to do much acting – he simply announced each episode like an emcee. He also traveled the country giving speeches for GE, a company run at that time by a handful of executives who embraced extreme free-market capitalism and vilified government regulations (some of whom later went to prison for illegal price fixing). At GE, Reagan was being groomed not only to serve in public office, but to serve corporate interests. He sold his soul to the company store for $125,000 per year, a generous expense account, a “very fancy sum” from the show’s producer Revue Productions, and a state-of-the-art GE kitchen in the brand spanking new Pacific Palisades home he shared with Nancy and the kids. Over the next five years, his annual base salary rose to $169,000 ($1.8 million today), plus perks.
What had Reagan done to land such a sweet gig? During his fifth consecutive term as SAG president in 1952, he executed a “blanket waiver” exempting MCA from the SAG bylaw that prohibited talent agencies from branching out into entertainment production. This enabled MCA to establish a virtual monopoly as an agency/television production company, to stake a massive claim on the new frontier of TV. In 1959, Reagan returned for one last encore of his most awarded role, SAG president, just in time to do MCA another favor. He settled a strike by negotiating what came to be known as “The Great Giveaway,” a deal that provided television broadcast residuals for actors only on films made after 1960. Of course, MCA had just purchased Paramount’s entire pre-1948 film library, so they became even richer while Golden Age stars were swindled out of untold thousands.
Later, upon evidence that MCA had violated several laws – extortion, blacklisting, monopolization, to name a few – the Kennedy administration launched an official probe into the company’s business dealings. Reagan was called to testify before the grand jury, but he conveniently failed to recall most of the events in question. During the 1962 investigation, MCA bought Universal Pictures, Decca Records, and Revue Productions, giving them unprecedented power to control not only Hollywood’s largest talent pool, but also the production and distribution of music, films, and television. Ultimately, the government forced MCA to choose between being a talent agency or a production company. Since Universal generated much greater profits, MCA’s talent division was scrapped, and Reagan was left without representation for the first time since he started acting in 1937.
Once again, the luckiest man in Hollywood landed on his feet. His brother Neil, senior vice president of the famed McCann Erickson advertising firm, scored him another hosting job on the western anthology series Death Valley Days. Meanwhile, old friend Wasserman pulled strings at Universal to get Reagan his final feature film, The Killers (1964), in which he played a cold-blooded criminal. His unconvincing attempts at expressing evil are limited to raising one eyebrow at a menacing angle and twisting his crooked, boyish grin into a concrete smirk. Ironically, the New York Times review of The Killers recalls his very first film review, almost word for word: critic Eugene Archer called Reagan “ill at ease.” He was uncomfortable as the villain, according to costar Angie Dickinson, who remembered, “He hated that movie because he was doing something he wasn’t happy about. He had to hit me in the film.” One thing was certain: Ronnie liked to be liked. He just didn’t like pretending to be someone else.
He officially retired from acting in 1966, when he announced his campaign for governor of California. Reagan the political leader never forgave the US government for breaking up the MCA monopoly that had elevated Reagan the subpar actor. To be clear, MCA was flouting laws that were in place for a reason, to keep the business sector ethical and just. But to Reagan, government became the villain in this scenario; no wonder he famously stated “government is the problem” in his 1981 inaugural address. It is not the government’s role to enforce fair business practices, he believed, and free-market capitalism should be allowed to run roughshod, letting companies amass as much money and power as they possibly can by any means necessary even if this causes harm to others – to innocent people, to small businesses, to society in general.
For the rest of his life, he remained vehemently opposed to “government control,” especially in the form of aid programs, which he equated with Communism. In his speeches, he even drew parallels between American soup kitchens for the homeless and Soviet Union socialism. Although he campaigned on promises to slash funds for welfare and unemployment insurance, which he dismissed as “a pre-paid vacation plan for freeloaders,” he actually increased state spending as governor. Then it was on to Washington, D.C., where he racked up a massive national debt while cutting taxes for the rich, cutting aid to the poor, eliminating market regulations, busting unions, closing state-run mental hospitals, and enacting his other pet policies. The politics of the privileged.
The ultimate irony is that Reagan was not so different from the so-called “welfare queens” he accused of abusing the system to freeload a luxury lifestyle off of hardworking taxpayers. During his rise to power in Hollywood, Ronnie felt entitled to not only make sixty times more than the average American for doing as little work as possible, but entitled to spend recklessly in his quest to live like a king, and to chisel the country out of his tax dollars to boot. One wonders why, when his career floundered in the late ’40s, he couldn’t have gone to the newly founded Actors Studio in New York (like Marilyn Monroe later did), dug deep into his soul, and pushed himself to excel in his craft instead of trading political favors for money.
Realistically, the foul turn our country has taken in recent years can’t be fully blamed on any one man, much less a man like Reagan, who was less an evil mastermind than a misguided mouthpiece for hire. But he opened the floodgates to a pernicious brand of neoliberalist greed that places more value on the American dollar than the average American’s life. And where are we now? Honored with the double distinction of being the richest nation on the planet and the one that let more of its citizens die of COVID-19 than any other. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but if only Ronald Reagan had been a better actor, our world might be a brighter place today.
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Brands, H.W. Reagan: The Life. New York: Anchor Books, 2015.
Greenberg, Carl. “Could Cut $245 Million from Brown’s Budget, Reagan Says.” Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1966.
Harlan, Bert. “Love Is on the Air.” Hollywood Spectator, September 25, 1937. Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
“Jane Wyman Divorces Reagan.” New York Times, July 19, 1949.
“Juke Girl, A Tumbled Melodrama about Florida Vegetable Growers, Opens at Strand.” New York Times, June 20, 1942.
Kent, Martin, Ray Loynd, and David Robb. “Hollywood Remembers Ronald Reagan.” Unpublished interviews, 1981–1982. Courtesy of David Robb.
Nugent, Frank S. “The Screen in Review.” New York Times, January 27, 1940.
Reagan, Ronald, with Richard G. Hubler. Where’s the Rest of Me? New York: Karz Publishers, 1965.
“Ronald Reagan: His Friends Remember.” People, June 21, 2004.
Ronald Reagan: The Hollywood Years. North Hollywood, CA: Passport Video, 2004. DVD.
Scheuer, Philip K. “Flynn and Friends Flee Nazi Hordes.” Los Angeles Times, September 28, 1942.
Vaughn, Stephen. Ronald Reagan in Hollywood: Movies and Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.