Ronald Wilson Reagan (/ˈreɪɡən/ RAY-gən; February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975 after a career as a Hollywood actor and union leader.
Reagan was born in to a low-income family in Tampico, Illinois. He graduated from Eureka College in 1932 and began to work as a radio sports commentator in Iowa. In 1937, Reagan moved to California, where he found work as an actor and appeared in several major productions. From 1947 to 1952, Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, during which time he worked to root out alleged communist influence within it. In the 1950s, he moved to a career in television and became a spokesman for General Electric. From 1959 to 1960, he again served as president of the Screen Actors Guild. In 1964, his speech “A Time for Choosing“—a campaign speech on behalf of Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater—earned him national attention as a new conservative figure. Building a network of supporters, Reagan was elected as governor of California in 1966. During his governorship, he raised taxes, turned the state budget deficit into a surplus, challenged the protesters at UC Berkeley, and ordered in National Guard troops during a period of protest movements.
In November 1979, Reagan announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the 1980 presidential election. He won the nomination and the election, defeating incumbent Democratic president Jimmy Carter. At 69 years, 349 days of age at the time of his first inauguration, Reagan was the oldest person to assume the U.S. presidency.[a] Reagan ran for reelection in the 1984 presidential election, in which he was opposed by the Democratic nominee Walter Mondale, who had previously served as vice president under Carter. Reagan defeated him in an electoral landslide, winning the most electoral votes of any U.S. president: 525 (97.6% of the 538 votes in the Electoral College). It was one of the most lopsided presidential elections in U.S. history.