Ronald Reagan's life included time in front of the camera as a Hollywood actor and terms as governor of California and the 40th president of the United States. Although he spent his early political life as a liberal Democrat, he ran for the presidency as a conservative Republican, winning two terms from 1981 until 1989.
Born in 1911, Reagan signed a 10-film contract with Warner Brothers in 1937. He appeared in films such as "Kings Row" in 1942 and in the biographical film "Knute Rockne, All American" in 1940. Although not permitted to fight during World War II due to bad eyesight, Reagan made war films. Following the war, Reagan became the president of the Screen Actor's Guild, the union for film actors, in 1947 and served for five years.
Reagan's serious political career began with a speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater in 1964. He then ran for the governorship of California against the incumbent Democrat Edmund Brown, Sr. He defeated Brown by 1 million votes in 1966, and the voters re-elected Reagan in 1970.
Reagan attempted bids for the Republican nomination for president in 1972 and 1976; however, he failed until 1980. During his presidency, he helped eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles, challenged the Soviet Union to allow East Germans to tear down the Berlin Wall and appointed the first female justice to Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor.