As we celebrate the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan this week, most of the focus will be on his years in politics. But it is also a good opportunity to take another look at some of his best performances as an actor as well. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Knute Rockne All American This classic story of one of the all-time great college football coaches features Reagan as George Gipp, the player whose death inspired the team to victory.
2. Bedtime for Bonzo Reagan often joked about this film, but it is actually a very cute comedy about a nature/nurture experiment with a chimp raised as a human. Co-star Diana Lynn shines as the love interest.
3. Kings Row The President’s favorite of his films, this is generally considered to be his best performance. It is the story of a small town with a lot of hidden struggles and ugly secrets. Reagan played a optimistic, caring young man who must face a cruel and tragic loss.
4. Hellcats of the Navy It isn’t much of a movie, but this WWII submarine drama is worth watching for another reason — it’s the only film to co-star the future president and his future wife. Then called Nancy Davis, the First Lady appears as the nurse who decides he is her “Mr. Right.”
5. “The Voice of the Turtle” A solider on leave falls for a girl who has not been lucky in love in this romantic comedy based on a hit Broadway play.
And for those who want to know more about his career after Hollywood: