delanceyplace.com 3/30/09 - ronnie and nancy

In today's excerpt - Ronald Reagan takes Nancy Davis off the blacklist then marries her:

"In the spring of 1952, while Ronald Reagan's career as a union politician reached its zenith, his acting career was in free fall. ... A B actor was a B actor, and rarely climbed onto the A-list in Hollywood's artificial caste system. ...

"On the domestic front, things were much better. To begin with, he had found Nancy Davis, or rather she had found him. Claiming she was being mistaken in casting calls for a Communist actress by the same name, the thirty-year-old Davis complained to director Mervyn LeRoy. He advised her to talk to the SAG president about the problem. After she asked Reagan to help keep her name off the studio blacklists, he went her one better. He asked the petite, attractive brunette to dinner. Reagan later described in his memoirs how they wound up at Ciro's watching Sophie Tucker perform until after midnight. It was just like the good old days, when Reagan first met Jane Wyman and the two of them lived it up at the Cocoanut Grove with other fun-loving couples, like Jules and Doris Stein.

"On March 4, 1952, Reagan married Nancy Davis and moved with his bride into a three-bedroom, two-story home in Pacific Palisades. They began to live like real movie stars. Reagan even splurged on a 290-acre chunk of real estate in the Santa Monica Mountains which he called Yearling Row Ranch. All it had on it was a two-bedroom, two-bath house and a caretaker's shack, both built in 1918 ,but the price was a mere $65,000 and it seemed like a great site on which to build his dream ranch someday.

" 'The marriage to Nancy seemed to solidify him, because she was very supportive of his career,' recalled actress Rhonda Fleming his costar in Hong Kong (1952). 'Suddenly, after a few years of being divorced, he had the solidity of a marriage, a woman who adored him, and he obviously adored her—plus he had the powerful position as leader of the actors' union. He was like a new person. As he entered middle age, Reagan achieved balance in every aspect of his life except his career. His future was obviously not on any producer's A-list. To pay for his new marriage and his new mortgages, Reagan began taking anything MCA sent his way: magazine ads, personal appearances, testimonial dinners. He even emceed a Las Vegas variety show. The one thing Reagan resisted was TV. Television was declasse."


author:

Dennis McDougal

title:

The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA, and The Hidden History of Hollywood

publisher:

First Da Capo Press

date:

Copyright 1998, 2001 by Dennis McDougal

pages:

182-184
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