Ron Reagan is an American liberal political commentator, MSNBC contributor and former ballet dancer who is the youngest son of late United States President Ronald Reagan. While his father is recognized as a conservative icon and "true believer", he identifies himself as "unabashedly liberal" and an atheist. He refrained from publicly expressing his differing political views during his father's tenure to discourage media gossips about their relationship, but has since been vocal about his progressive beliefs, which he shares with his sister Patti Davis. He previously had his own syndicated late-night talk show and also served as radio host and political analyst for KIRO and Air America Radio. His book, My Father at 100: A Memoir, had created controversy regarding his father's Alzheimer's disease. He supports federally funded embryonic stem cell research, a cause which his mother Nancy Reagan also believed in.
Childhood & Early Life
Ronald Prescott "Ron" Reagan was born on May 20, 1958, in Los Angeles, California, US to Ronald Reagan and his second wife, former actress Nancy Davis. He is the youngest child of his father after his adoptive brother Michael Reagan, his two half-sisters Maureen and Christine from his father's first marriage to Jane Wyman, and his sister Patti Davis.
At about 10, he was particularly troubled by the Old Testament story of Abraham and Isaac and concluded that the biblical stories "had little more validity than stories about Santa Claus".
At 12, he told his father that he would no longer attend the Sunday service at the Bel Air Presbyterian Church because he "didn’t want to be hypocritical, disrespectful and fake it"
He attended The Webb School of California, but was expelled from there in his senior year because the school authority "thought I was a bad influence on the other kids". He explained that the only "infraction" he could think of was going "to a dance at a neighboring girl’s school in a classmate’s car".
In 1976, he dropped out of Yale University mid-semester because he wanted to become a professional ballet dancer and entered prestigious Joffrey Ballet in New York on a scholarship. Mentored by Sally Brayley, he performed with the Joffrey II Dancers for six years, and his performance reportedly reminded his father of iconic dancer Fred Astaire.
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Ron Reagan started his professional career as a ballet dancer and appeared as a dancer in the TV special, Pavlova: A Tribute to the Legendary Ballerina, in 1982. In February 1986, he showed his comic skills by making fun of his privileged position of power as the President's son while hosting Saturday Night Live.
In 1991, he briefly hosted his own late-night political talk-show, The Ron Reagan Show, which was later discontinued due to steep competition. During the 1990s, he co-presented three episodes of the British children's television show Record Breakers on BBC, and presented weekly report for it from the US.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he had minor acting credits on televisions shows like General Hospital, Webster, Dream On and The Wonderful World of Disney, and the 1986 romantic comedy film Soul Man. He also continued to make guest appearances on various talk-shows such as 60 Minutes, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Good Morning America, and The Colbert Report to talk about issues he believed in.
He strongly believed that stem cell research would find cure for illnesses like Alzheimer's disease, from which his father suffered in his later years. He often criticized the Bush family for exploiting his father's reputation and spoke in favor of lifting George W. Bush's restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
He was the co-host of MSNBC talk show Connected: Coast to Coast with Monica Crowley in 2005 and hosted a one-hour radio talk-show on 710 KIRO until 2007. In September 2008, he began hosting The Ron Reagan Show on Air America Media that continued to air until 2010.
In 2011, on the occasion of his father's 100th birthday, he published the book, My Father at 100: A Memoir. However, it created a controversy after he mentioned to have witnessed lapses that could be early stages of the disease while his father was still in office.
Family & Personal Life
Ron Reagan first met clinical psychologist Doria Palmieri at a Los Angeles dance studio, but his parents opposed their relationship because she was seven years older than him. The two secretly married at a judge’s office in New York on November 24, 1980, 20 days after his father was elected President.
The couple later bought a bungalow in the Magnolia neighborhood where they lived with their three cats until her death on March 24, 2014 from complications of a progressive neuromuscular disease. In 2018, he married Federica Basagni, an Italian who was one of Doria's closest friends.
Ron Reagan is a longtime member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit organization which advocates for atheists and the separation of church and state. His 2014 ad for the organization created a buzz in late 2019 after being shown during the Democratic Presidential Debate due to his finishing line, "Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell."