Born: Feb. 6, 1911
Died: June 5, 2004
Known for: Ronald Reagan was a two-term U.S. president and the 33rd governor of California.
Background: Raised in Illinois, Reagan became a sportscaster, movie star and president of the Screen Actors Guild before entering politics. During his eight years in the state Capitol, he had to deal with a Democrat-dominated Legislature most of the time. He could never accomplish a conservative makeover of state government, but he did become a national political star. After failing in a challenge to President Ford in 1976, he won the GOP presidential nomination in 1980 and unseated Jimmy Carter. At age 69, he was the oldest man ever elected president. Known as the "great communicator," he hastened the end of the Cold War and brought renewed optimism to the nation. He left office in 1989 with the highest popularity rating of any retiring president in history and returned to California, his adopted state.
A highlight: Washington National Airport was renamed for him in 1998 and the USS Ronald Reagan was christened by former first lady Nancy Reagan and the U.S. Navy in 2001.
In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.