Ronald Reagan was born on February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois. He was the second son of John and Nelle Reagan. The family eventually moved to nearby Dixon where Reagan attended Northside High School. After graduation, he worked his way through Eureka College, majoring in economics and sociology, and still found time to play on the football team and act in school plays. While in college, Reagan joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, an experience he would fondly recall in many later interviews.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan's favorite candy was jelly beans. He began eating jelly beans in the 1960s when he gave up smoking and kept up the habit the rest of his life. While Reagan was President, he kept a crystal jar full of jelly beans in the Oval Office and often passed them out during Cabinet meetings. He once told reporters, "You can tell a lot about a fella's character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful." A portrait of Ronald Reagan made of 10,000 jelly beans hangs in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
In 1940, Ronald Reagan married actress Jane Wyman, with whom he had two children (one of which died at birth) and adopted a third. In 1948, however, the couple divorced. Four years later (1952), Reagan remarried, to another actress, Nancy Davis, who had starred with Reagan in Hellcats of the Navy (1957). Reagan had two more children with Nancy, and the couple remained happily married until Reagan's death in 2004.
The first movie Ronald Reagan ever appeared in was Love Is on the Air (1937), in which he played Andy McCaine, a crime reporter for a radio station who gets himself in trouble when his exposé on corruption in high places catches the attention of the wrong people. The film itself wasn't anything special, but Reagan gave a convincing performance and garnered positive reviews. Over the next three decades, he would go on to make 58 more films before turning his attention to politics.
On January 20, 1985, when Ronald Reagan began his second term as President, he was 73 years old, making him the oldest person ever to be sworn in as President of the United States. His age had, in fact, become an issue during the 1984 campaign, but Reagan used his characteristic humor to deflect the issue. During one of the presidential debates, Reagan turned to his opponent, Walter Mondale, and said: "I'm not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience." Even Mondale (56 years old) had to chuckle.
During his years of public service, Ronald Reagan earned the nickname "The Great Communicator" for his easy-going and natural style of speaking and his uncanny ability to connect with audiences. On January 11, 1989, in his Farewell Address to the Nation as his second term was coming to an end, Reagan said, "... and in all that time I won a nickname -- The Great Communicator. But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference. It was the content. I wasn't a great communicator, but I communicated great things. And they didn't spring full bloom from my brow, they came from the heart of a great nation -- from our experience, our wisdom, and our belief in principles that have guided us for two centuries. They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I'll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery -- a rediscovery of our values and our common sense."
During his tenure as President of the United States, Ronald Reagan appointed four justices to the Supreme Court: Sandra Day O'Connor (1981), Antonin Scalia (1986), William H. Rehnquist (1986), and Anthony Kennedy (1988). Although some conservatives have been disappointed with the moderate positions taken by O'Connor and Kennedy on certain issues, there is no doubt that Reagan left his mark on the Supreme Court.