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Eight Forty-Eight

Reagan: The Hollywood Years

Abraham Lincoln and now Barack Obama are, of course, the presidents most closely associated with our region and the state of Illinois. But Ronald Reagan also had some ties to the Prairie State—he was born in the tiny town of Tampico in western Illinois, and moved to nearby Dixon at the age of 9.

That period of his life is well-documented as are his two terms in the White House. But there is a period of Reagan's life that is often glossed over, even in his own memoirs: his time in Hollywood. Reagan appeared in over 50 movies between 1937 and 1964. Reagan also headed up the Screen Actors Guild during the federal anti-communist investigations. He also dealt with the uncertainties created by the advent of television and the decline of the studio system.

A book called Reagan: The Hollywood Years explores how his experiences in Tinsel Town shaped the politician he would become. Last fall, we spoke with author Marc Eliot, who says there are a couple of reasons we don??t hear much about Reagan's Hollywood career.

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