Ronald Reagan, Teen Idol

Slate has a great scan of a magazine article fawning over Ronald Reagan as a young Hollywood star:

Most people know that Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood star before he became President. Most probably don’t know that he was also the “New Answer to Maiden’s Prayers,” at least according to the December 1939 issue of Motion Picture Magazine.

This article was part of a publicity push on the part of Reagan’s studio, Warner Bros., following the unexpected success of “Brother Rat” (1938), in which Reagan played a Virginia Military Institute “Rat” (or cadet) who falls for the comely Jane Wyman (later to become his first wife). According to the article, the B movie inspired a rush of fan mail, with girls exclaiming “Dear Ronnie: I am in love with your voice, it is so soothing and rich.” 

“New Answer to Maiden’s Prayers” provides the sort of personal information for which Reagan’s new fans were hungering: he grew up lifeguarding, saving “77 lives in 7 summers”; his nickname was “Dutch”; he found a job as a sports radio announcer, but his true, secret aspiration had always been to act.  The author observed that Ronnie was “very simple,” and seemed “just like the boy you knew in high school or college.” More unusually, he loved world politics, and insisted on a girlfriend that would share that love.

Click through to see the photo and read the original 1939 article.

Nancy French — Nancy French is a three-time New York Times best-selling author and a longtime contributor to National Review Online.

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