Tony Thomas, The Films of Ronald Reagan
“Outside of Hollywood there were many who were amazed that an actor could become a successful politician, but an actress who had known Reagan since his earliest days in the movies said, ‘He’s always been a politician, even if he didn’t know it. He just happened to spend a number of years making a living as an actor.”
Tony Thomas, The Films of Ronald Reagan
The Films of Ronald Reagan is currently available via the Nick Harvill Libraries kiosk at the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood.
“[Nancy Reagan] was bitter about Ronnie not getting good picture offers during their marriage. ‘Marlon Brando gets everything,’ she complained, implying that Ronnie’s rightist politics was the reason.”
Sheilah Graham, Confessions of a Hollywood Columnist
“Ask [Ronald Reagan] the time, and he will tell you how the watch is made.”
Jane Wyman via Sheilah Graham, Confessions of a Hollywood Columnist
A White House State Dinner is one of those rare occasions in which style and substance are in perfect accord. It is a noble and civilized occasion. Attendees seem if not invincible, at least protected from the more barbaric vicissitudes of life. Yet, consider the fate of King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya of Nepal, whom President Ronald Reagan toasted at a State Dinner in their honor in December of 1983. Less than twenty years later, in 2001, they were massacred, along with most of their immediate family by their crazed, machine gun-wielding son, Crown Prince Dipendra (a.k.a. "Dippy" to his former Eton classmates).
As detailed in Love & Death in Kathmandu, A Strange Tale of Royal Murder, Crown Prince Dipendra's deadly rampage occurred during a family dinner at the royal palace a few months prior to 9/11. Having met the royal couple, Nancy Reagan must have been horrified by the news, and, given her interest in astrology, also fascinated. Astrology and mysticism had long been important in Nepal, and though the royal astrologer had to exercise caution when forecasting for a king who was considered a living deity, there were signs that Crown Prince Dipendra would never accede the throne.
According to Nepali oral history, a holy man named Goraknath lived twenty generations ago, when Nepal was a patchwork of independent kingdoms. Goraknath prophesied to King Birendra's distant ancestor, King Ram, that his family, the Shah, would, in ten generations' time, rule a unified Nepal, but only for the next eleven generations. Ten generations later, the first prophecy came to pass. The Shah family did rule a united Nepal. But, what of the second prophesy? King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya were that fateful eleventh generation. Superstition suggested that the clock was ticking, and consequently, they were wary of their son and successor, Dipendra, and, at times, distant. However, their normally cool relations became heated when they refused Dipendra's choice of royal bride. Dipendra became enraged, murdering not only his parents but also his siblings, in-laws, and other close relations.
King Birendra was the doomed eleventh generation. It is true that a mortally wounded Dipendra technically succeeded his father for several days, becoming the twelfth generation, but he never regained consciousness. For all intents and purposes, his generation, the twelfth, was done. The monarchy limped along under Gyanendra, Birendra's brother, but in 2008, Nepal abolished its monarchy altogether. As Goraknath predicted centuries earlier, the Shah dynasty lasted for eleven generations.
Moreover, when Gyandendra (Birendra's brother) was a baby, a palm reader foretold that he would twice be king. Given that he was a younger son, the family considered it unlikely that he would rule even once, let alone twice. And yet, that is what came to pass. The first time was in 1950, when as a three-year-old, he was involuntarily crowned during an unsuccessful coup attempt. The second was, of course, after the tragic murder of his older brother, Birendra.
“Photographs afford us glimpses into other times, other people, other lives. And, if we look very closely, we might find parts of ourselves there as well.”
Patti Davis, The President & Mrs. Reagan, An American Love Story
Image Credit: The President & Mrs. Reagan, An American Love Story
In her memoirs, a former first lady commented upon how well both she and her husband’s personalities fit into the personality traits of those born under their signs of the Zodiac.
As to the former president’s, show wrote:
I’ve always known that I am a classic Cancer, but it wasn’t until … a friend sent me an article describing the Aquarian personality, that I realized how close that description fit [my husband]. ‘He has no affectation or snobbery,’ the article said, ‘and he hates all forms of hypocrisy.’ And ‘Aquarians are capable of love, but their version is somewhat impersonal. Much of their energy is likely to go into public life.’ If Aquarians have a fault, it’s that they are ‘too tranquil, too gentle and kindly in disposition.’ They are ‘incapable of petty tyranny.’ Their attitude toward the world is ‘kindly and humane.’ The article even mentioned that Aquarian men are often slow to get married!
Her own sign matched as well:
I was born on July 6, which makes me a Cancer. It is often said that people born under the sign of Cancer are above all homemakers and nesters, which is exactly how I would define myself. Cancers also tend to be intuitive, vulnerable, sensitive, and fearful of ridicule—all of which, like it or not, I am. The Cancer symbol is the crab shell: Cancers often present a hard exterior to the world, which hides their vulnerability. When they’re hurt, Cancers respond by withdrawing into themselves. That’s me, all right.
Who is this presidential couple?
HINT: Given the flack she had taken for her interest in astrology, it is remarkable that she chose to broach the subject in her memoirs at all.
The answer is after the JUMP.
“Is it possible to get to the top of the greasy pole without intrigue, or guile? It almost seems as if in this case the answer may be yes.”
Lady Diana Mosley on Ronald Reagan, via The Pursuit of Laughter
Ronald Reagan joked of the Republican Party, “Sometimes our right hand doesn't know what our far right hand is doing.” However, that is not entirely true. Someone in his camp—someone quite close to him, in fact—made it her business to know such things. That person was his wife Nancy. If indeed the President did ascend a greasy pole unsullied, it is obvious on whose shoulders he stood to get there.
Her husband’s legacy was always Nancy Reagan’s top priority. It surpassed any concern she had for her own approval rating. As Thomas Mallon’s fascinating (and worthwhile) novel Finale proposes, Nancy Reagan worked tirelessly behind the scenes against the hardliners in her husband’s administration. She wanted peace to be his legacy. In Finale, and perhaps in real life, it is Nancy Reagan who tipped the scales in favor of a pact with the Soviet Union.
Consider her maneuver at the 1987 state dinner for Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev. Mrs. Regan paid careful attention to the political implications of the seating chart. According to then-White House Social Secretary Gahl Hodges Burt, Mrs. Reagan purposefully sat United Nations Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick to Reagan’s right. The reactionary Kirkpatrick was a staunch foe of detente. To the Soviets, her presence at President Reagan’s side was “a visible sign of the country’s unity” in favor of the treaty. [via Entertaining at the White House with Nancy Reagan]
Though not apparent at the time, the treaty and state dinner ushered in an era of relative tranquility in a turbulent world. Even though its significance is best appreciated in retrospect, the state dinner was nevertheless a hot ticket in Washington. It was one of those evenings in which luminaries actively campaigned for invitations and made excuses to leave town if not included. The event was easily the most talked-about event since the 1985 dinner for the Prince and Princess of Wales (and of greater significance to history).
Image Credit: Entertaining at the White House with Nancy Reagan