delanceyplace.com - ronnie and nancy
In today's encore excerpt - Ronald Reagan takes Nancy Davis off the blacklist, then
"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."
Dennis McDougal, The Last Mogul, Copyright 1998 by Dennis McDougal, Da Capo, pp.