Biography of U.S. President Ronald Reagan Part 10 Personal Life

About the United States President Ronald Reagan, biography and history and personal life including his marriages and family.


40th President



Reagan and his wife remained very close. In 1974 they bought a 688-acre ranch (for $574,000) in California's Santa Ynez Mountains, just north of Santa Barbara. A small ranch house built on the property in 1881 serves as their retreat from the public eye, and they enjoy relaxing there in each other's company. Gardening, chopping wood, and riding horseback serve as Reagan's pastimes. Once he came across a rattle-snake on the property and stamped it to death, only to realize later that he had been wearing sneakers instead of boots. In the evenings Reagan and his wife enjoy watching television, particularly Little House on the Prairie and M*A*S*H*.

The Reagans share unassailable convictions on the sanctity of marriage and tradition family life. Nancy Reagan has been consistently opposed to values at variance with her own; she is against abortion, against ERA, against premarital sex, and against "easy" divorce. Ronald Reagan has stated a belief that big government is responsible for eroding moral stability. In his opinion government interference in private life has caused rising divorce rates and a breakdown in communication between parents and children. If his own divorce was not caused by the government, it was at least caused by politics.

The four Reagan children are aware of the modern communication problems between parents and children. Maureen, the eldest and twice divorced, has campaigned for her father even though she is a feminist and supports the ERA. Michael, a former boat racer, put himself through college when it became clear that tuition money would not be forthcoming from his millionaire father. Michael's parents never attend any of his races. Youngest son, Ron, who left Yale University to join New York's Joffrey School as a ballet dancer. (His parents didn't see him perform until after Reagan became president.) In 1976, when Reagan was voted West Coast Father of the Year, his daughter Patti was not permitted to bring her rock star boyfriend into the family home because the were living together without benefit of marriage.

According to friends and close associates, Reagan in private is very akin to his public self: likable, friendly, conversational, an exceptionally good storyteller, and an optimist. He is a man who sees the world in simple terms, they say. His circle of friends are much like him: wealthy, conservative, and with enormous faith in the work ethic. However, as the oldest (70 a few days after his inauguration) man to assume the presidency, Reagan has continued certain practices observed since his tenure as California governor, namely a nine-to-five workday, punctuated by an afternoon nap. Reagan's friends point out that he is dedicated but not compulsive.

His Person: Ronald Reagan has always been a physically vigorous man, proud of his athletic ability. He has kept his 6-ft. 2-in. frame to a trim 194 lb. Ever since his years as a glamorous face in Hollywood, he has worn contact lenses on his light blue eyes to correct nearsightedness. Reagan has hay fever and takes periodic injections to control symptoms. He quit smoking many years ago, replacing his habit with a more benign fondness for jelly beans. (Reportedly he included 8,000 lb. of jelly beans in his $8 million inauguration day gala.) When he is not dieting, Reagan is fond of such special dishes as spiced hamburger soup, and he loves desserts, especially chocolate brownies. He and Nancy enjoy vodka and orange juice cocktails and an occasional glass of wine.

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