AMERICAN EXPERIENCE presents an exhaustive and essentially uncritical portrait of Ronald Reagan, an ex-movie actor (1964's THE KILLERS) and television commercial pitchman who became President of the United States in 1980, served two terms, then developed Alzheimer's Disease several years later. The son of an alcoholic father, his careers included radio baseball announcer (he would pretend to be watching a game live while actually reconstructing it from teletype bulletins); 1930s Warner Brothers movie contract player (co-starring with Errol Flynn and David Niven in action spectaculars); Screen Actors Guild president seeking out "communists;" TV show host and Boraxo commercial spokesperson--with a brief sideline as a straw-hatted Las Vegas casino song-and-dance man prancing around the stage with a showgirl on each arm--before an electrifying television address for Goldwater's presidential candidacy in 1964 catapulted him into politics and he became California's governor two years later. The program chronicles each extraordinary step in his zigzagging ascent to leadership of the Free World with frequently surprising film or vintage photographs. Interviews with Reagan's family members about his shooting in 1981 prove especially revealing. The incident was far more serious and had a far greater impact on his physical and mental health than the administration revealed at the time. Mikhail Gorbachev--Reagan's counterpart in the Soviet government--and assorted staffers and politicians who knew Reagan also offer their insights on this enigmatic giant of the twentieth century.
American History |
Character Study |