Cold warrior Ronald Reagan dies at 93

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The Independent US

Ronald Reagan, the former B-movie actor who rose to become the two-term president of the United States of America has died at the age of 93.

Ronald Reagan, the former B-movie actor who rose to become the two-term president of the United States of America has died at the age of 93.

The White House confirmed last night Reagan passed away at his Californian home after a long fight with Alzheimer's disease.

The Queen and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, expressed their sadness at the news, and President George Bush, in Paris for the D-Day commemoration, paid tribute, saying Reagan, "leaves behind a nation he restored, a world he helped save".

Although frequently dismissed as a show business lightweight, particularly on this side of the Atlantic, Reagan came to be seen as an iconic figure of the late 20th century, credited by many with bringing about the end of the Cold War. In the US in particular, he became a political folk hero whose popularity stretched way beyond right-wing Republicans.

The son of an alcoholic shoe salesman, Mr Reagan swept into office as the 40th president in 1981 on a flag-waving conservative revival, succeeding Jimmy Carter.

With a theme of "morning again in America", he offered a simple, optimistic creed of lower taxes, less government, strong defence expenditure and unabashed patriotism.

His politics have influenced successive conservatives in the US while his self-deprecating manner and sunny outlook proved popular with the voters. His time at the White House was marked by an economic resurgence, the collapse of Soviet communism, vast budget deficits, and an assassination attempt in 1981 that nearly succeeded.

Reagan was a force from the Right such as modern America had never seen. From his early career in movies, he marched steadily upward, from president of the Screen Actors Guild, to the governorship of California to two-term Republican president, from 1981 to 1989.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born 6 February 1911, in Tampico, Illinois, the second son of Jack and Nellie Reagan.

His father was barely able to eke out a living for his wife and two children as the family moved from one small midwestern town to another.

After graduation from college in 1932, Reagan became a radio sportscaster known throughout the Midwest as "Dutch". He then headed for Hollywood and made 51 movies from 1937 to 1964, mostly comedies and romances, famously co-starring with a chimpanzee in "Bedtime for Bonzo, which achieved cult status during his presidency. During his film career, he met both his wives, actresses Jane Wyman and Nancy Davis. He and Wyman had a daughter, Maureen, and adopted a son, Michael. The second marriage produced another daughter, Patricia, and a son, Ronald.