Reagan, Ronald


Interesting  1970 TLS as California Governor to western actor Don “Red” Barry coyly disclaiming interest in “that other job”!


Type: Letter
Description: (1911-2004) Actor, California Governor 1967-75, unsuccessfully sought 1968 & 1976 GOP presidential nominations. US President 1981-89, GOP & conservative icon. When Reagan left office in 1989, his approval rating matched those of FDR and, later, Bill Clinton as the highest ratings for departing presidents in the modern era.  He disclosed in Nov. 1994 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease earlier that year and died June 5, 2004. He is viewed favorably in historical rankings of US presidents, and his tenure saw a US realignment toward conservative policies.

After graduating from Eureka College in 1932, Reagan worked as a radio announcer at several stations. He moved to WHO radio in Des Moines, Iowa as an announcer for the Chicago Cubs,  creating play-by-play accounts of games using only basic descriptions received by wire as the games were in progress. While with the Cubs in California in 1937, he took a screen test that led to a 7-year Warner Bros. contract. He spent his first few years in the “B film unit” and earned his 1st screen credit starring in “Love Is on the Air” (1937). By the end of 1939, he had been in 19 films, inc. “Dark Victory” with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart. Before the 1940 film “Santa Fe Trail” with Errol Flynn, he played George Gipp in “Knute Rockne, All American” and acquired the lifelong nickname “the Gipper”. In 1941, exhibitors voted him the 5th most popular Hollywood younger generation star. His favorite role was in 1942’s “Kings Row” where he played a double amputee who says “Where’s the rest of me?”, later the title of his 1965 autobiography. “Kings Row” made him a star; Warner tripled his salary to $3,000/week, and received co-star above-the-title billing with Flynn in “Desperate Journey” (1942). In April 1942, Reagan was ordered to active duty and never became a 1st rank star. After his wartime service he co-starred in such films as “The Voice of the Turtle”, “John Loves Mary”, “The Hasty Heart”, “Bedtime for Bonzo”, “Cattle Queen of Montana”, “Tennessee’s Partner”, “Hellcats of the Navy” (his only film with Nancy Davis Reagan), and his one turn at playing a vicious villain in the remake of “The Killers” (1964, his final film).

Interesting content TLS “Ron” on 10 ½   x 7 ¼  official letterhead as Governor of California, Sacramento, May 13 1970, to actor and friend Donald (Don “Red”) Barry, No. Hollywood, Cal. Governor Reagan sends a speech and an 8 x 10 photo, apologizes for not having an 11 x 14 one. Reagan appreciates and is grateful for Barry’s letter and support and coyly adds: “As for that other job – don’t wish me out of California. I couldn’t stand it.”

Donald Barry (de Acosta, 1912-1980, a/k/a Red Barry,  Milton Poimboeuf) Film & tv actor nicknamed “Red” after appearing as the 1st Red Ryder in the highly successful 1940 film Adventures of Red Ryder with Noah Beery Sr.. Barry was in bigger budget films following Red Ryder; none reached his previous level of success. Before acting, he was a high school and college football player, first entering films as an extra and in small roles. Discovered by John Wayne during a football game, Wayne provided introductions to producers. He played a variety of roles before he found his forte and nickname “Red” in Republic Pictures’ serial The Adventures of Red Ryder (1940). Barry continued in westerns and made 2 war films, Remember Pearl Harbor (1942) for Republic and The Purple Heart 1944, loaned out to 20th Century Fox.

By the 50s, he was a supporting actor instead of playing leads in westerns. Barry was in the 1956 western film Seven Men From Now, appeared in an episode of tv’s “Cheyenne”, did 2 episodes of ABC/Warner Brothers’ series “Sugarfoot”, 4 episodes of the ABC/WB western “Colt .45”, 2 episodes of “Maverick”, and an episode of “Lawman”. He guest starred on other dramas, incl. “Bourbon Street Beat”, “The Roaring 20’s”, “U.S. Marshal” and “Mr. Novak and made westerns as part of the ensemble casts of A. C. V. Lyles Paramount 2nd features in the mid-60s.

In 1966, Barry was in the western film Alvarez Kelly with William Holden & Richard Widmark and played a supporting role in the 1968 film Shalako with Sean Connery, as well as in the tv series’ “Dragnet” and “Adam 12”.  Barry played supporting roles in dozens of tv series, particularly westerns. He appeared 8 times on NBC’s long-running series ”The Virginian” in the 60s, in 6 episodes of “Little House on the Prairie”, and appeared in all-star tv miniseries such as “Rich Man, Poor Man Book II” and “The Dream Merchants.” He also wrote the stories upon which the films Red Light (1949, with George Raft & Virginia Mayo), Train to Tombstone (1950), and Convict Stage (1965) were based, and co-wrote the screenplay as well as directing and playing the lead in Jesse James’ Women (1954). On July 17, 1980, Barry shot himself in the head at his home, shortly after police left the residence after investigating a domestic dispute.

Condition: Very good

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