Died when: 93 years 120 days
Star Sign: Aquarius
Ronald Wilson Reagan (; February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989 and became a highly influential voice of modern conservatism. Prior to his presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975. Reagan was raised in a low-income family in small towns of northern Illinois. He graduated from Eureka College in 1932 and worked as a radio sports commentator. After moving to California in 1937, he found work as an actor and starred in a few major productions. As president of the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan worked to root out communist influence. In the 1950s, he moved into television and was a motivational speaker at General Electric factories. In 1964, his speech "A Time for Choosing" earned him national attention as a new conservative spokesman. Building a network of supporters, Reagan was elected governor of California in 1966. As governor, he raised taxes, turned a state budget deficit to a surplus, challenged the protesters at UC Berkeley, and ordered in National Guard troops during a period of protest movements. Reagan was the runner-up for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976. In 1980, he won the Republican presidential nomination and defeated the incumbent president, Jimmy Carter. At the time of his first inauguration, Reagan was the oldest person to assume the U.S. presidency. Reagan faced former vice president Walter Mondale when he ran for re-election in 1984 and defeated him, winning the most electoral votes of any U.S. president. It was the second-most lopsided presidential election in modern U.S. history. As president, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His economic policies advocated tax rate reduction to spur economic growth, economic deregulation, and reduction in government spending. In his first term, Reagan survived an assassination attempt, spurred the war on drugs, invaded Grenada, and fought public sector labor unions. He enacted cuts in domestic discretionary spending, cut taxes, and increased military spending, contributing to increased federal debt overall. Foreign affairs dominated Reagan's second term, including the bombing of Libya, the Iran–Iraq War, the Iran–Contra affair, and the ongoing Cold War. In 1987, he challenged Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall". Reagan escalated an arms race with the USSR. He engaged in talks with Gorbachev, culminating in the INF Treaty. Reagan was the first president since Dwight D. Eisenhower to serve two full terms after the five prior presidents did not. Although he had planned an active post-presidency, Reagan disclosed in 1994 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Afterward, his informal public appearances became more infrequent as the disease progressed. He died at home on June 5, 2004. His tenure constituted a realignment toward conservative policies in the United States, and he is an icon among conservatives. Evaluations of his presidency among historians and the general public place him among the upper tier of U.S. presidents.