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From Heartland to Hollywood

reagan the pilot

How did Ronald Reagan serve his country during World War II?

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in the small Illinois town of Tampico on February 6, 1911. He was the second son of Jack and Nelle Reagan. In 1920, the Reagans settled down in Dixon, a town not far from Tampico.

In Dixon, Ronald Reagan’s mother encouraged him to participate with her in church readings and plays. His shyness disappeared as he discovered a natural talent for public speaking and acting. Nelle Reagan also taught her son important values. These values shaped his character and guided his decisions.

Ronald Reagan began to develop into a leader during his four years at Dixon High School. He was a varsity football player and captain of the swim team. He improved his public speaking ability by participating in student plays. He became a political leader in his school by becoming president of the student council.

Ronald Reagan worked during the summer as a lifeguard. He was an extraordinary lifesaver, demonstrating courage, self-sacrifice, and compassion. He remembered: “One of the proudest statistics of my life is seventy-seven— the number of people I saved during those seven summers."

After attending high school in Dixon, he studied at Eureka College, where he was elected president of the student body. He performed in more than a dozen plays. Among his many interests, Ronald Reagan enjoyed acting most of all and hoped someday to have a career in the movies.

Terms to Know
values Things that are important to a person.
leader A person who people listen to and follow.
compassion Sensitivity to the needs of others.

values Things that are important to a person.

leader A person who people listen to and follow.

compassion Sensitivity to the needs of others.

After his graduation from college, he moved to Iowa, where he began a career in radio as a sports broadcaster. But he never gave up his dream of becoming a movie star.

In the spring of 1937, Ronald Reagan visited Hollywood. He took a screen test at the Warner Brothers movie studio and won a contract. This launched a movie-acting career that lasted until 1964.

America’s entry into World War II interrupted Ronald Reagan’s career in Hollywood. As a captain in the United States Army Air Corps, he produced training films to prepare soldiers for combat. After the war, Ronald Reagan returned to acting in the movies.

 

 

 

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