Former President Ronald Reagan’s final acting appearance was on a hit television show as a cowboy.
Reagan made his final appearance on Death Valley Days in 1966. Reagan was host from 1964-1965. He left the show to run for Governor of California, which he won. People believe that his B-list acting jobs helped him run for office.
In total, he acted in 21 episodes after taking over for the previous host Stanley Andrews (in the “Old Ranger” character). He also truly showed off his acting chops in the 1965 skit, “A City Is Born.” He portrayed the mining developer and founder of Arizona, Charles Poston.
The show concluded in 1970. Surprisingly, country legend Merle Haggard narrated a number of old episodes for rerun purposes.
Although Ronald Reagan was the most notable name on the show, the series featured other celebrities. Tom Skerritt, James Best, Denver Pyle, and Phyllis Coates
See a clip of him hosting the show, below.
Ronald Reagan and His Many Jobs
Firstly, two of Ronald Reagan’s primary careers were in acting and politics. He also was briefly a sports announcer, worked in radio and served in the Army Air Force.
In 1937 he did a screen test to become an actor. Warner Brothers offered him a seven-year contract which he gladly accepted. His movie debut was later that year where he portrayed a radio announcer in the crime film, Love Is On the Air.
Furthermore, over the span of twenty years, he appeared in 52 films. In his 53rd movie, for the first time, he played the role of a villain. Surprisingly, The Killers was set as a television movie. It had a theatrical release as it was too violent.
Reagan recalled to the Washington Post that although he was overshadowed for standout roles, he was able to memorize scripts easily. This helped him win over the B-show producers who “didn’t want them good, they wanted them Thursday.”
Ronald Reagan used a reference from one of his films for his autobiography. The 1942 movie Kings Row was his personal favorite project. He portrayed Drake McHugh, a man who gets his legs amputated by a crazy surgeon to keep him away from his daughter. He used the line, “Where’s the rest of me?” for his memoir.
Reagan joined the Army in 1942 but could not be in combat because he was nearsighted. He joined the First Motion Picture Unit of the Army Air Corps. Reagan was in charge of acting in training films for recruits and soldiers. He later starred in the musical, “This Is The Army” before being discharged in 1945 as a captain.
Finally, he went on to become the 40th President of the United States and served from 1981 to 1989. He is the only president in history who was a prominent actor/host.