On this day 113 years ago, President Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois. Happy birthday, President Reagan! Learn more about Illinois’ native son with some of these fun facts about the 40th President:
- Reagan had a long career as an actor and union leader before he became the governor of California in the 1960s and won presidential elections in 1980 and 1984.
- Young Ronald Reagan was successful as an actor and football player at Eureka College. But his most important role was a lifeguard at a local park in Illinois. The future president saved an estimated 77 lives in his summers as a lifeguard.
- The future President’s last movie role was in the 1964 release, The Killers. Based on an Ernest Hemingway story, it was Reagan’s only role as a villain in a film, and it was the first made-for-TV movie. However, The Killers was considered too violent for TV, and released to movie theaters instead.
- Reagan really did enjoy jelly beans. According to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, his favorite flavor was licorice. Reagan started eating jelly beans in 1967 as he was trying to quit a pipe-smoking habit. He switched to Jelly Bellies a decade later.
- The future President lost partial hearing in one ear when he was hurt on a movie set in the late 1930s after a gun was fired next to his ear. Decades later, President Reagan wrote to Michael Jackson offering his support after Jackson was burned filming a TV commercial.