This day in 1911 marked the birth of U.S. president Ronald Reagan. He was of Irish descent through his father, while his surname was created from the Irish surname O’Regan.
Of course, the O’Regans were Catholics in Ireland. Ronald’s great-grandfather Michael belonged to the first generation of families which emigrated to the U.S. in the mid 19th century. Their surname was later Anglicized to Reagan.
Ronald Reagan’s father was called Jack Reagan and was a Roman Catholic. Ronald’s mother was a particularly devout Protestant, so that young Ronald also became a Protestant, despite his father’s Catholic origin.
Ronald Reagan was born in the U.S. Midwest, around 100 kilometers from Chicago. However, in his youth he moved to California and started a career in the movies. He had his first real acting role in 1937 in the movie Love Is on the Air. He proved to be a good actor, so that he had already played in 19 movies by the end of 1939. In Hollywood he played in movies together with Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, and Bette Davis.
Reagan’s successful commercial movie career was interrupted after the USA entered World War II. Namely, Reagan was mobilized, and in 1942 assigned to a special unit tasked with filming propaganda movies (the so-called First Motion Picture Unit). The famous Clark Gable was also a member of the same unit, and its commander was Jack Warner, one of the Warner Brothers from the eponymous company.
During the war, Reagan advanced to the rank of captain, while Jack Warner attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the war Reagan continued his civilian movie career, and even became the president of the American Screen Actors Guild. It is interesting that his wife Nancy Reagan was also a film actress, and they even played in the same movies together.