Richard J. Noyes

Whatever your politics, it is not easy to deny that Ronald Reagan, former governor of California and two-time President of the United States, was a superb politician with a knack for presentation, likability and dramatic phrasemaking such as, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Before politics, Reagan was a lifeguard, a sportscaster and a successful Hollywood actor. His best film was “King’s Row,” a drama in which his legs were cut of by an evil surgeon. Upon wakening from anesthesia Reagan uttered his second most-famous movie line, “Where’s the rest of me?” Reagan’s performance in “King’s Row” made him a star.

Two years earlier, the 1940 film “Knute Rockne of Notre Dame” added to the Fighting Irish football mystique and made the late Rockne even more of a national hero. As an all-American player and later as a coach, Rockne popularized the forward pass. At the height of his coaching success at Notre Dame and winner of five national championships, Knute Rockne was killed in a 1931 plane crash that plunged the nation into mourning.

The best moment in “Knute Rockne of Notre Dame” came when Ronald Reagan, who played the dying all-American George Gipp* asked Rockne, ably portrayed by Pat O’Brien, to “Win one for the Gipper.” Reagan, the amiable politician and great communicator, who sometimes mixed a little fantasy with reality and knew how to tug at the heartstrings, used the line to advantage several times during his political career.

During his Hollywood heyday, Ronald Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild, an active union. Later, as his film career waned, Reagan became involved in television, particularly as a spokesperson for General Electric. During this period, he left the Democratic Party, registered as a Republican and became a champion of conservative causes and politicians like Senator Barry Goldwater. Given his superb personal skills, television attractiveness and knack for politics, Ronald Reagan’s path to the presidency was apparently predestined.

*In a bizarre turn that infuriated many people, George Gipp’s remains were exhumed (with video cameras recording the scene) in 2007, 87 years after his death from a strep infection. A DNA check to determine paternity failed to confirm a woman’s assertion that she was Gipp’s granddaughter. Lawsuits followed.

“We live in a litigious society.” -Mick Jagger

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *