Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bridgit Mendler: Teen Idol

Bridgit Claire Mendler (born December 18, 1992) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, producer and actress. She played Teddy Duncan in the Disney Channel Original Series Good Luck Charlie and appeared in the 2009 made for television film Labor Pains. In 2009, she became a recurring character for the Disney Channel Original Series Wizards of Waverly Place. In December of that year, she made her theatrical debut in the film Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel, released on December 23, 2009. Following the positive reception to her character on Wizards of Waverly Place, who was a vampire and fell in love with David Henrie's character, she became the star of the Disney series Good Luck Charlie, which premiered in April 2010 and ended in February 2014. In 2011, she appeared in the film based on the series Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas.

She starred in the Disney Channel Original Movie Lemonade Mouth, in which her character Olivia performs numerous songs. Two singles were released from the soundtrack featuring her vocals, with both charting on the US Billboard Hot 100. In 2012, Mendler released her debut album Hello My Name Is..., which featured a pop sound. It debuted at number 30 on the US Billboard 200, and has sold over 180,000 copies as of 2013. Her debut single off the album "Ready or Not", became an international Top 40 hit, the song was certified gold in Norway, and platinum in New Zealand, United States and Canada and peaked at number 49 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was announced that her second single would be "Hurricane". The video premiered on April 12, 2013 and was shot in London. "Hurricane" has been certified GOLD in the USA for selling 500,000 copies.

Bridgit Claire Mendler was born in Washington, D.C. on December 18, 1992. She moved with her family to the San Francisco area town of Mill Valley at the age of eight. It was there where she first expressed interest in acting and began working in plays. On the decision, Mendler stated "I was 11 when I did a play out in Northern California and I really enjoyed it and I decided that I wanted to pursue a career and so I got an agent and did commercials and voice-overs and that sort of thing." When she was only eight years old, Mendler began taking part in local roles in both dramatic and musical theatre, and became the youngest performer in the San Francisco Fringe Festival. When she was 11 years old, she hired an agent to help her get acting jobs.

In 2004, Mendler got her first acting role in the animated Indian film The Legend of Buddha, in which she portrayed Lucy. When she was only 13 years old, she got an acting role as a guest star on the soap opera General Hospital. She portrayed the dream child of character Lulu Spencer, in which the two have an argument on Mendler's character's birthday. The scene, lasting just under a minute, is later revealed to be a dream That same year, Mendler was the voice of the character Thorn in the video game Bone: The Great Cow Race, which was based on the Bone comic series. In 2007, Mendler made her film debut in the film adaption of the Alice series, titled Alice Upside Down. Mendler starred alongside Disney Channel actress Alyson Stoner and Lucas Grabeel. Bridgit portrayed the antagonistic role of Pamela, who is the rival of Stoner's character, Alice. For the film's soundtrack, Mendler provided backing vocals on the song "Free Spirit", performed by Stoner. The film was released straight to DVD on October 6, 2007.

In 2008, it was announced that Mendler would play the role of Kristen Gregory in the film adaption of the popular teen novel series The Clique by Lisi Harrison. Mendler had the role of Kristen, a girl who attends OCD on a scholarship, and works hard to keep her good grades. The Clique was released straight to DVD in Fall of 2008, her second film to be released in this format. In 2007, Mendler had begun working on a film with actress and singer Lindsay Lohan titled Labor Pains, which kept being pushed back due to various conflicts and problems. Though initially slated for a theatrical release, the film did not receive one in the US and was instead released as a TV film on ABC Family on 2009. The film did, however, receive a theatrical release in countries such as Russia, Romania, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, and Mexico. The film drew 2.1 million viewers, a better-than-average prime-time audience for ABC Family, and per the network, was the week's top cable film among coveted female demographic groups. She had a supporting role in the film Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

Beginning in 2009, Mendler became a recurring character in the Disney Channel series Wizards of Waverly Place, alongside Selena Gomez and David Henrie. Mendler portrayed the role of Juliet Van Heusen, a vampire who later forms a romance with David Henrie's character Justin Russo. This lasts till the series finale. Mendler would go on to appear in eleven episodes total for the series, spanning from 2009 to 2012 when the series officially ended. Also in 2009, Mendler auditioned for Sonny with a Chance for the role of Sonny Munroe, but Demi Lovato was chosen for the role.

In 2010, Mendler became the star of the Disney Channel Original Series Good Luck Charlie, centering around a teenage girl who makes videos for her baby sister to watch as she gets older. The series premiered on April 4, 2010, and has since been met with a positive critical reception and viewership. In 2011, she starred as Olivia White, the lead role in the Disney Channel Original Movie, Lemonade Mouth, watched by 5.7 million viewers on its premiere night. Bridgit performed numerous songs for the film's soundtrack, which was released on April 12, 2011 by Walt Disney Records. The first single released from the soundtrack, titled "Somebody", was released on March 4, and peaked at number 89 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The second single, "Determinate", charted in numerous other countries and peaked at number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100. In an interview with Kidzworld Media, Mendler confirmed that there will not be a sequel to Lemonade Mouth, commenting: "There’s not [going to be a sequel to Lemonade Mouth] unfortunately. We had such a great experience working on the movie, and they tried to figure something out for a sequel, but everyone at Disney felt like the movie had completed its story in the first movie. It was a great experience, and I loved working with the cast members and still see them frequently.

In Summer 2012, Mendler confirmed that the title of her official debut single was "Ready or Not", written by Mendler herself, Emanuel "Eman" Kiriakou and Evan "Kidd" Bogart. The song was released for digital download on August 7 and for radio airplay on August 21, 2012. "Ready or Not" peaked only 49 in United States and 53 in Australia, but peaked at number seven in the United Kingdom and within the top twenty of the charts in Belgium, the Republic of Ireland and New Zealand. The song was platinum certification on United States and Canada and Gold in Denmark, New Zealand and Norway. Mendler ventured on her first headlining tour, Bridgit Mendler: Live in Concert, supported her first studio album. The tour primarily reached only the North America and she playing at state fairs, music festivals and Jingle Ball's concerts series. Mendler's debut album, Hello My Name Is..., was released on October 22 by Hollywood Records and all the songs were written by Mendler with collaborators. The album peaked at number 30 on the Billboard 200 and sold less than 200,000 copies in the country. Internationally "Hello My Name Is .." debuted in a few countries as Poland, Australia, United Kingdom, France and Spain. Mendler's vocals have been compared to Lily Allen, Cher Lloyd, Jessie J and Karmin. She released two promotional singles on the album: "Forgot to Laugh" and "Top of the World".

On March 27, 2012, Shane Harper said in an interview to Akash Sharma of Officially The Hottest for the first time that he was dating Mendler. Harper told they became friends early in Good Luck Charlie and began dating in 2011, but they decided not to reveal so far. In an interview with Cambio in September 2012, Mendler stated that it took two years between her meeting Harper and beginning to date him. She said "It wasn't one of those... 'you meet on a set and you wind up dating instantly,' it took like two years". In March 2013, Mendler said in an interview to Sarah Bull of Daily Mail that the fact her boyfriend in real-life is also her boyfriend on Good Luck Charlie doesn't disturb the relationship: "I think it makes it easier, especially when it’s a person who you’ve worked with for a long time".

In 2012, Mendler began taking classes at the University of Southern California of the Liberal Arts course. In 2013, she chose classes of jazz history to specialize in.

In July 2012 Bridgit became ambassador of the campaign Give With Target with Target Corporation to raise funds to reform schools in the United States. The campaign aims to get $1 billion by 2015. To start the Target campaign, they invested $5 million and distributes $25,000 grants to 100 in-need schools for the school year. Mendler told about the incentive: “I’m excited to partner with Target on their Give With Target campaign and celebrate the start of a new school year with kids across the country. It's so important for all kids to have everything they need for a successful school year”. In August she got $5 million donated by The Walt Disney Company and more $2 million donated by people at Facebook.

Mendler has cited Bob Dylan as her biggest musical influence. To Taylor Trudon of Huffington Post she said: "He was the first musician I got into where I paid attention to songwriting. He has a way of writing songs that's really playful with lyrics, but at the same time he's saying something that people feel is important and that they relate to. He spoke for a whole generation.". Also to Trudon, Mendler cited Etta James, B.B. King, Lily Allen and Billie Holiday, and talked about these artists: "I love that they have soul in their voices. I think that's something important is having.". Other musical influences include Fugees, Elvis Costello, The Delfonics, Red Hot Chilli Pepers and Van Morrison. She was also influenced by Canadian artists Feist and Tegan and Sara. Among the pop music artists, cited Maroon 5, No Doubt, Destiny's Child, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé Knowles and Bruno Mars.

Mendler said that she is influenced by British neo-soul and listed Ellie Goulding, Florence and the Machine, Marina Diamandis, and Lianne La Havas as her biggest British influences. She has also mentioned Natasha Bedingfield, Broken Bells, Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse. In 2013 Mendler cited Adele as influence: "I admire the career of Adele, because she has her own musical style. She does things her way and writes about things she is passionate about. It is really working out well for her." She also mentioned Ed Sheeran and said she would love to write songs with him.

Sources: Wikipedia

This work released through CC 3.0 By-SA - Creative Commons

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Love Is The Key

Big things come in small packages. Like on Valentine's Day ladies when you wait anxiously by the mailbox for your gift from your number one guy. He mentioned something special that he knows you been waiting for all these years of dating, and now it would seem he wants to take that next step. This makes you so excited. You know what you want, and it's about time the bastard figured it out. You certainly dropped enough hints. You told him once that your favorite song was "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash. You told him when you were a little girl, you loved playing "Ring Around The Rosey". And you definitely told him your favorite scary movie of all time is "The Ring!" (Are you listening boyfriend?) Then he appears, the mailman. He's walking towards you. He is carrying a package. You're about to pee your pants. He hands you the box. You take it in a swoop and race back inside the house and plop on the couch, ripping the package open. And then you see it. It's a key on a chain - and a message on a card that reads: "Hey sweetie, happy Valentine's Day. Here is a key to my apartment. Now you don't have to knock or wait for me to get home. Love you." - Charlie.

Yeah, love is kind of like that. Only better. 

Not to worry ladies, I'm sure you've grown used to your guy and those "small packages", aye?

Monday, June 23, 2014

George H. W. Bush: The Presidents

George Herbert Walker Bush was born at 173 Adams Street in Milton, Massachusetts on June 12, 1924 to Prescott Sheldon Bush and Dorothy (Walker) Bush. The Bush family moved from Milton to Greenwich, Connecticut, shortly after his birth.
Bush began his formal education at the Greenwich Country Day School in Greenwich. Beginning in 1936, he attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where he held a number of leadership positions including president of the senior class, secretary of the student council, president of the community fund-raising group, a member of the editorial board of the school newspaper, and captain of both the varsity baseball and soccer teams.

After graduating from Yale, Bush moved his family to West Texas. His father's business connections proved useful when he ventured into the oil business, starting as a sales clerk with Dresser Industries, a subsidiary of Brown Brothers Harriman. His father had served on the board of directors there for 22 years. While working for Dresser, Bush lived in various places with his family: Odessa, Texas; Ventura, Bakersfield and Compton, California; and Midland, Texas. Bush started the Bush-Overbey Oil Development company in 1951 and in 1953 co-founded the Zapata Petroleum Corporation, an oil company that drilled in the Permian Basin in Texas. In 1954 he was named president of the Zapata Offshore Company, a subsidiary which specialized in offshore drilling.

When the subsidiary became independent in 1958, Bush moved the company from Midland to Houston. He continued serving as president of the company until 1964, and later chairman until 1966, but his ambitions turned political. By that time, Bush had become a millionaire.

In 1976, president Gerald Ford brought Bush back to Washington to become Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), replacing William Colby. He served in this role for 357 days, from January 30, 1976, to January 20, 1977. The CIA had been rocked by a series of revelations, including those based on investigations by the Church Committee regarding illegal and unauthorized activities by the CIA, and Bush was credited with helping to restore the agency's morale. In his capacity as DCI, Bush gave national security briefings to Jimmy Carter both as a Presidential candidate and as President-elect, and discussed the possibility of remaining in that position in a Carter administration but did not do so. He was succeeded by Deputy Director of Central Intelligence E. Henry Knoche, who served as acting Director of Central Intelligence until Stansfield Turner was confirmed.

Bush had decided in the late 1970s that he was going to run for president in 1980; in 1979, he attended 850 political events and traveled more than 250,000 miles (400,000 km) to campaign for the nation's highest office. In the contest for the Republican Party nomination, Bush stressed his wide range of government experience, while competing against rivals Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, Congressman John Anderson of Illinois (who would later run as an independent), Congressman Phil Crane, also of Illinois, former Governor John Connally of Texas, and the front-runner Ronald Reagan, former actor, and Governor of California

In the primary election, Bush focused almost entirely on the Iowa caucuses, while Reagan ran a more traditional campaign. Bush represented the centrist wing in the GOP, whereas Reagan represented conservatives. Bush famously labeled Reagan's supply side-influenced plans for massive tax cuts "voodoo economics". His strategy proved useful, to some degree, as he won in Iowa with 31.5% to Reagan's 29.4%. After the win, Bush stated that his campaign was full of momentum, or "Big Mo". As a result of the loss, Reagan replaced his campaign manager, reorganized his staff, and concentrated on the New Hampshire primary. The two men agreed to a debate in the state, organized by the Nashua Telegraph, but paid for by the Reagan campaign. Reagan invited the other four candidates as well, but Bush refused to debate them, and eventually they left. The debate proved to be a pivotal moment in the campaign; when the moderator, John Breen, ordered Reagan's microphone turned off, his angry response, "I am paying for this microphone," struck a chord with the public. Bush ended up losing New Hampshire's primary with 23% to Reagan's 50%. Bush lost most of the remaining primaries as well, and formally dropped out of the race in May of that year.

With his political future seeming dismal, Bush sold his house in Houston and bought his grandfather's estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, known as "Walker's Point". At the Republican Convention, Reagan selected Bush as his Vice Presidential nominee, placing him on the winning Republican presidential ticket of 1980.

As Vice President, Bush generally took on a low profile while recognizing the constitutional limits of the office; he avoided decision-making or criticizing Reagan in any way. As had become customary, he and his wife moved into the Vice President's residence at Number One Observatory Circle, about two miles from the White House. After selling the house in the Tanglewood, the Bushes declared a room in The Houstonian Hotel in Houston as their official voting address. The Bushes attended a large number of public and ceremonial events in their positions, including many state funerals, which became a common joke for comedians. Mrs. Bush found the funerals largely beneficial, saying, "George met with many current or future heads of state at the funerals he attended, enabling him to forge personal relationships that were important to President Reagan." As the President of the Senate, Bush stayed in contact with members of Congress, and kept the president informed on occurrences on Capitol Hill.

On March 30, 1981, early into the administration, Reagan was shot and seriously wounded in Washington, D.C. Bush, second in command by the presidential line of succession, was in Fort Worth, Texas, and flew back to Washington immediately. Reagan's cabinet convened in the White House Situation Room, where they discussed various issues, including the availability of the Nuclear Football. When Bush's plane landed, his aides advised him to proceed directly to the White House by helicopter, as an image of the government still functioning despite the attack. Bush rejected the idea, responding, "Only the President lands on the South Lawn." This made a positive impression on Reagan, who recovered and returned to work within two weeks. From then on, the two men would have regular Thursday lunches in the Oval Office.

Reagan and Bush ran for reelection in 1984. The Democratic opponent, Walter Mondale, made history by choosing a woman as his running mate, New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro. She and Bush squared off in a single televised Vice Presidential debate. Serving as a contrast to the Ivy-League educated Bush, Ferraro represented a "blue-collar" district in Queens, New York; this, coupled with her popularity among female journalists, left Bush at a disadvantage. The Reagan-Bush ticket won in a landslide against the Mondale-Ferraro ticket. Early into his second term as Vice President, Bush and his aides were planning a run for the presidency in 1988. By the end of 1985, a committee had been established and over two million dollars raised for Bush.

Bush became the first Vice President to serve as Acting President when, on July 13, 1985, Reagan underwent surgery to remove polyps from his colon, making Bush acting president for approximately eight hours.

The Reagan administration was shaken by a scandal in 1986, when it was revealed that administration officials had secretly arranged weapon sales to Iran, and had used the proceeds to fund the anticommunist Contras in Nicaragua, a direct violation of the law. When the Iran-Contra Affair, as it became known, broke to the media, Bush, like Reagan, stated that he had been "out of the loop" and unaware of the diversion of funds, although this was later questioned. But his own diaries from that time stated "I'm one of the few people that know fully the details." He had repeatedly refused to disclose this to investigators. Public opinion polls taken at the time indicated that the public questioned Bush's explanation of being an "innocent bystander" while the trades were occurring; this led to the notion that he was a "wimp". His fury during an interview with CBS's Dan Rather largely put the "wimp" issue to rest.

As Vice President, Bush officially opened the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis.

In the January 26, 1987, issue of Time magazine, in an article entitled "Where Is the Real George Bush?" journalist Robert Ajemian reported that a friend of Bush's had urged him to spend several days at Camp David thinking through his plans for his prospective presidency, to which Bush is said to have responded in exasperation, "Oh, the vision thing." This oft-cited quote became a shorthand for the charge that Bush failed to contemplate or articulate important policy positions in a compelling and coherent manner. The phrase has since become a metonym for any politician's failure to incorporate a greater vision in a campaign, and has often been applied in the media to other politicians or public figures.

Bush had been planning a presidential run since as early as 1985, and entered the Republican primary for President of the United States in October 1987. His challengers for the Republican presidential nomination included U.S. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, U.S. Representative Jack Kemp of New York, former Governor Pete DuPont of Delaware, and conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson.

Though considered the early frontrunner for the nomination, Bush came in third in the Iowa caucus, behind winner Dole and runner-up Robertson. Much like Reagan did in 1980, Bush reorganized his staff and concentrated on the New Hampshire primary. With Dole ahead in New Hampshire, Bush ran television commercials portraying the senator as a tax raiser; he rebounded to win the state's primary. Following the primary, Bush and Dole had a joint media appearance, when the interviewer asked Dole if he had anything to say to Bush, Dole said, in response to the ads, "yeah, stop lying about my record" in an angry tone. This is thought to have hurt Dole's campaign to Bush's benefit. Bush continued seeing victory, winning many Southern primaries as well. Once the multiple-state primaries such as Super Tuesday began, Bush's organizational strength and fundraising lead were impossible for the other candidates to match, and the nomination was his.

Leading up to the 1988 Republican National Convention, there was much speculation as to Bush's choice of running mate. Bush chose little-known U.S. Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana, favored by conservatives. Despite Reagan's popularity, Bush trailed Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, then Governor of Massachusetts, in most polls.

Bush, occasionally criticized for his lack of eloquence when compared to Reagan, delivered a well-received speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention. Known as the "thousand points of light" speech, it described Bush's vision of America: he endorsed the Pledge of Allegiance, prayer in schools, capital punishment, gun rights, and opposed abortion. The speech at the convention included Bush's famous pledge: "Read my lips: no new taxes."

The general election campaign between the two men has been described as one of the nastiest in modern times. Bush blamed Dukakis for polluting the Boston Harbor as the Massachusetts governor. Bush also pointed out that Dukakis was opposed to the law that would require all students to say the Pledge of Allegiance, a topic well covered in Bush's nomination acceptance speech.
Dukakis's unconditional opposition to capital punishment led to a pointed question during the presidential debates. Moderator Bernard Shaw asked Dukakis hypothetically if Dukakis would support the death penalty if his wife, Kitty, were raped and murdered. Dukakis's response of no, as well as the Willie Horton ad, contributed toward Bush's characterization of him as "soft on crime".

Bush defeated Dukakis and his running mate, Lloyd Bentsen, in the Electoral College, by 426 to 111 (Bentsen received one vote from a faithless elector). In the nationwide popular vote, Bush took 53.4% of the ballots cast while Dukakis received 45.6%. Bush became the first serving Vice President to be elected President since Martin Van Buren in 1836 as well as the first person to succeed someone from his own party to the Presidency via election to the office in his own right since Herbert Hoover in 1929.

Bush was inaugurated on January 20, 1989, succeeding Ronald Reagan. He entered office at a period of change in the world; the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Soviet Union came early in his presidency. He ordered military operations in Panama and the Persian Gulf, and, at one point, was recorded as having a record-high approval rating of 89%. Economic recession and breaking his "no new taxes" pledge caused a sharp decline in his approval rating, and Bush lost the 1992 election.

Early in his term, Bush faced the problem of what to do with leftover deficits spawned by the Reagan years. At $220 billion in 1990, the deficit had grown to three times its size since 1980. Bush was dedicated to curbing the deficit, believing that America could not continue to be a leader in the world without doing so. He began an effort to persuade the Democratic controlled Congress to act on the budget; with Republicans believing that the best way was to cut government spending, and Democrats convinced that the only way would be to raise taxes, Bush faced problems when it came to consensus building.

In the wake of a struggle with Congress, Bush was forced by the Democratic majority to raise tax revenues; as a result, many Republicans felt betrayed because Bush had promised "no new taxes" in his 1988 campaign. Perceiving a means of revenge, Republican congressmen defeated Bush's proposal which would enact spending cuts and tax increases that would reduce the deficit by $500 billion over five years. Scrambling, Bush accepted the Democrats' demands for higher taxes and more spending, which alienated him from Republicans and gave way to a sharp decrease in popularity. Bush would later say that he wished he had never signed the bill.

Near the end of the 101st Congress, the president and congressional members reached a compromise on a budget package that increased the marginal tax rate and phased out exemptions for high-income taxpayers. Despite demands for a reduction in the capital gains tax, Bush relented on this issue as well. This agreement with the Democratic leadership in Congress proved to be a turning point in the Bush presidency; his popularity among Republicans never fully recovered.

Coming at around the same time as the budget deal, America entered into a mild recession, lasting for six months. Many government programs, such as welfare, increased. As the unemployment rate edged upward in 1991, Bush signed a bill providing additional benefits for unemployed workers. The year 1991 was marked by many corporate reorganizations, which laid off a substantial number of workers. Many now unemployed were Republicans and independents, who had believed that their jobs were secure.

By his second year in office, Bush was told by his economic advisors to stop dealing with the economy, as they believed that he had done everything necessary to ensure his reelection. By 1992, interest and inflation rates were the lowest in years, but by midyear the unemployment rate reached 7.8%, the highest since 1984. In September 1992, the Census Bureau reported that 14.2% of all Americans lived in poverty. At a press conference in 1990, Bush told reporters that he found foreign policy more enjoyable.

On August 2, 1990, Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, invaded its oil-rich neighbor to the south, Kuwait; Bush condemned the invasion and began rallying opposition to Iraq in the US and among European, Asian, and Middle Eastern allies. Secretary of Defense Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Fahd; Fahd requested US military aid in the matter, fearing a possible invasion of his country as well. The request was met initially with Air Force fighter jets. Iraq made attempts to negotiate a deal that would allow the country to take control of half of Kuwait. Bush rejected this proposal and insisted on a complete withdrawal of Iraqi forces. The planning of a ground operation by US-led coalition forces began forming in September 1990, headed by General Norman Schwarzkopf. Bush spoke before a joint session of the U.S. Congress regarding the authorization of air and land attacks, laying out four immediate objectives: "Iraq must withdraw from Kuwait completely, immediately, and without condition. Kuwait's legitimate government must be restored. The security and stability of the Persian Gulf must be assured. And American citizens abroad must be protected." He then outlined a fifth, long-term objective: "Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective – a new world order – can emerge: a new era – freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony.... A world where the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle. A world in which nations recognize the shared responsibility for freedom and justice. A world where the strong respect the rights of the weak." With the United Nations Security Council opposed to Iraq's violence, Congress authorized the use of Military force with a set goal of returning control of Kuwait to the Kuwaiti government, and protecting America's interests abroad.

Early on the morning of January 17, 1991, allied forces launched the first attack, which included more than 4,000 bombing runs by coalition aircraft. This pace would continue for the next four weeks, until a ground invasion was launched on February 24, 1991. Allied forces penetrated Iraqi lines and pushed toward Kuwait City while on the west side of the country, forces were intercepting the retreating Iraqi army. Bush made the decision to stop the offensive after a mere 100 hours. Critics labeled this decision premature, as hundreds of Iraqi forces were able to escape; Bush responded by saying that he wanted to minimize U.S. casualties. Opponents further charged that Bush should have continued the attack, pushing Hussein's army back to Baghdad, then removing him from power. Bush explained that he did not give the order to overthrow the Iraqi government because it would have "incurred incalculable human and political costs.... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq."

Bush's approval ratings skyrocketed after the successful offensive. Additionally, President Bush and Secretary of State Baker felt the coalition victory had increased U.S. prestige abroad and believed there was a window of opportunity to use the political capital generated by the coalition victory to revitalize the Arab-Israeli peace process. The administration immediately returned to Arab-Israeli peacemaking following the end of the Gulf War; this resulted in the Madrid Conference, later in 1991.

Bush announced his reelection bid in early 1992; with a coalition victory in the Persian Gulf War and high approval ratings, reelection initially looked likely. As a result, many leading Democrats declined to seek their party's presidential nomination. But an economic recession, and doubts of whether Bush ended the Gulf War properly, reduced his popularity.

Conservative political columnist Pat Buchanan challenged Bush for the Republican nomination, and shocked political pundits by finishing second, with 37% of the vote, in the New Hampshire primary. Bush responded by adopting more conservative positions on issues, in an attempt to undermine Buchanan's base. Once he had secured the nomination, Bush faced his challenger, Democrat and Governor of Arkansas William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton. Clinton attacked Bush as not doing enough to assist the working middle-class and being "out of touch" with the common man, a notion reinforced by reporter Andrew Rosenthal's false report that Bush was "astonished" to see a demonstration of a supermarket scanner

In early 1992, the race took an unexpected twist when Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot launched a third party bid, claiming that neither Republicans nor Democrats could eliminate the deficit and make government more efficient. His message appealed to voters across the political spectrum disappointed with both parties' perceived fiscal irresponsibility. Perot later bowed out of the race for a short time, then reentered.

Clinton had originally been in the lead, until Perot reentered, tightening the race significantly. Nearing election day, polls suggested that the race was a dead-heat, but Clinton pulled out on top, defeating Bush in a 43% to 38% popular vote margin. Perot won 19% of the popular vote, one of the highest totals for a third party candidate in U.S. history, drawing equally from both major candidates, according to exit polls. Bush received 168 electoral votes to Clinton's 370.

Several factors were key in Bush's defeat. The ailing economy which arose from recession may have been the main factor in Bush's loss, as 7 in 10 voters said on election day that the economy was either "not so good" or "poor". On the eve of the 1992 election against these factors, Bush's approval rating stood at just 37% after suffering low ratings throughout the year.

Conservative Republicans point to Bush's 1990 agreement to raise taxes in contradiction of his famous "Read my lips: no new taxes" pledge. In doing so, Bush alienated many members of his conservative base, losing their support for his re-election. According to one survey, of the voters who cited Bush's broken "No New Taxes" pledge as "very important", two thirds voted for Bill Clinton. Bush had raised taxes in an attempt to address an increasing budget deficit, which has largely been attributed to the Reagan tax cuts and military spending of the 1980s. The tax revenue increase had not hurt his approval ratings to the extent that it prevented it from reaching 89% during the Gulf War, four months after the tax vote. By February 1991 his approval rating rose to its highest level - 89%.

Despite his defeat, Bush climbed back from election day approval levels to leave office in 1993 with a 56% job approval rating.

In 1993, Bush was awarded an honorary knighthood (GCB) by Queen Elizabeth II. He was the third American president to receive the honor, the others being Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

Sources: Wikipedia

This work released through CC 3.0 - BY-SA - Creative Commons

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Harry Houdini: Legends

Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz in Budapest, later Ehrich Weiss, Harry Weiss, or Harry Weiß; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926) was a Hungarian-American illusionist and stunt performer, noted for his sensational escape acts. He first attracted notice as "Harry Handcuff Houdini" on a tour of Europe, where he challenged police forces to keep him locked up. Soon he extended his repertoire to include chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers, straitjackets under water, and having to hold his breath inside a sealed milk can.

In 1904, thousands watched as he tried to escape from special handcuffs commissioned by London's Daily Mirror, keeping them in suspense for an hour. Another stunt saw him buried alive and only just able to claw himself to the surface, emerging in a state of near-breakdown. While many suspected that these escapes were faked, Houdini presented himself as the scourge of fake magicians and spiritualists. As President of the Society of American Magicians, he was keen to uphold professional standards and expose fraudulent artists. He was also quick to sue anyone who pirated his escape stunts.

Houdini made several movies, but quit acting when it failed to bring in money. He was also a keen aviator, and aimed to become the first man to fly a plane in Australia. Even the circumstances of his death in 1926 were dramatic and mysterious.

Harry Houdini was born as Erik Weisz in Budapest, Austria-Hungary, on March 24, 1874. His parents were Rabbi Mayer Sámuel Weisz (1829–1892), and Cecília Weisz (née Steiner; 1841–1913). Houdini was one of seven children: Herman M. (1863–1885) who was Houdini's half-brother, by Rabbi Weisz's first marriage; Nathan J. (1870–1927); Gottfried William (1872–1925); Theodore "Theo" (1876–1945); Leopold D. (1879–1962); and Carrie Gladys (born 1882–1959) who was left almost blind after an accident that occurred during her childhood.

Weisz arrived in the United States on July 3, 1878, on the SS Fresia with his mother (who was pregnant) and his four brothers. The family changed the Hungarian spelling of their German surname to Weiss (the German spelling) and Erik's name was changed to Ehrich. Friends called him "Ehrie" or "Harry".

They first lived in Appleton, Wisconsin, where his father served as Rabbi of the Zion Reform Jewish Congregation.

According to the 1880 census, the family lived on Appleton Street. On June 6, 1882, Rabbi Weiss became an American citizen. Losing his tenure at Zion in 1887, Rabbi Weiss moved with Ehrich to New York City, where they lived in a boarding house on East 79th Street. He was joined by the rest of the family once Rabbi Weiss found permanent housing. As a child, Ehrich Weiss took several jobs, making his public début as a 9-year-old trapeze artist, calling himself "Ehrich, the Prince of the Air". He was also a champion cross country runner in his youth. Weiss became a professional magician and began calling himself "Harry Houdini".

After extensive research, Houdini published a book in 1908 called The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin, in which he called his former idol Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin a liar and a fraud for having claimed the invention of automata and effects such as aerial suspension which had been in existence for many years.

In later life, Houdini claimed that the first part of his new name, Harry, was an homage to Harry Kellar, whom Houdini admired.

Houdini was an active Freemason and was a member of St. Cecile Lodge #568 in New York City
In 1918, he registered for selective service as Harry Handcuff Houdini.

He began his magic career in 1891. He had little success. He performed in dime museums and sideshows, and even doubled as "The Wild Man" at a circus. Houdini focused initially on traditional card tricks. At one point, he billed himself as the "King of Cards". He soon began experimenting with escape acts.

In 1893, while performing with his brother "Dash" (Theodore) at Coney Island as "The Brothers Houdini," Harry met a fellow performer, Wilhelmina Beatrice "Bess" Rahner. Bess was initially courted by Dash, but she and Houdini married in 1894, with Bess replacing Dash in the act, which became known as "The Houdinis." For the rest of Houdini's performing career, Bess worked as his stage assistant.

Houdini's big break came in 1899 when he met manager Martin Beck in rural Woodstock, Illinois. Impressed by Houdini's handcuffs act, Beck advised him to concentrate on escape acts and booked him on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit. Within months, he was performing at the top vaudeville houses in the country. In 1900, Beck arranged for Houdini to tour Europe. After some days of unsuccessful interviews in London, Houdini managed to interest Dundas Slater, then manager of the Alhambra Theatre. He gave a demonstration of escape from handcuffs at Scotland Yard, and succeeded in baffling the police so effectively that he was booked at the Alhambra for six months.

Houdini became widely known as "The Handcuff King." He toured England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Russia. In each city, Houdini challenged local police to restrain him with shackles and lock him in their jails. In many of these challenge escapes, Houdini was first stripped nude and searched. In Moscow, Houdini escaped from a Siberian prison transport van. Houdini claimed that, had he been unable to free himself, he would have had to travel to Siberia, where the only key was kept. In Cologne, he sued a police officer, Werner Graff, who alleged that he made his escapes via bribery. Houdini won the case when he opened the judge's safe (he later said the judge had forgotten to lock it). With his new-found wealth, Houdini purchased a dress said to have been made for Queen Victoria. He then arranged a grand reception where he presented his mother in the dress to all their relatives. Houdini said it was the happiest day of his life. In 1904, Houdini returned to the U.S. and purchased a house for $25,000, a brownstone at 278 W. 113th Street in Harlem, New York City.

From 1907 and throughout the 1910s, Houdini performed with great success in the United States. He freed himself from jails, handcuffs, chains, ropes, and straitjackets, often while hanging from a rope in sight of street audiences. Because of imitators, on January 25, 1908, Houdini put his "handcuff act" behind him and began escaping from a locked, water-filled milk can. The possibility of failure and death thrilled his audiences. Houdini also expanded his repertoire with his escape challenge act, in which he invited the public to devise contraptions to hold him. These included nailed packing crates (sometimes lowered into water), riveted boilers, wet sheets, mailbags, and even the belly of a whale that had washed ashore in Boston. Brewers in Scranton, Pennsylvania and other cities challenged Houdini to escape from a barrel after they filled it with beer.

Many of these challenges were pre-arranged with local merchants in one of the first uses of mass tie-in marketing. Rather than promote the idea that he was assisted by spirits, as did the Davenport Brothers and others, Houdini's advertisements showed him making his escapes via dematerializing, although Houdini himself never claimed to have supernatural powers.

In 1912, Houdini introduced perhaps his most famous act, the Chinese Water Torture Cell, in which he was suspended upside-down in a locked glass-and-steel cabinet full to overflowing with water. The act required that Houdini hold his breath for more than three minutes. Houdini performed the escape for the rest of his career. During his career, Houdini explained some of his tricks in books written for the magic brotherhood. In Handcuff Secrets (1909), he revealed how many locks and handcuffs could be opened with properly applied force, others with shoestrings. Other times, he carried concealed lockpicks or keys, being able to regurgitate small keys at will. When tied down in ropes or straitjackets, he gained wiggle room by enlarging his shoulders and chest, moving his arms slightly away from his body, and then dislocating his shoulders.

His straitjacket escape was originally performed behind curtains, with him popping out free at the end. Houdini's brother, (who was also an escape artist, billing himself as Theodore Hardeen), discovered that audiences were more impressed when the curtains were eliminated so they could watch him struggle to get out. For publicity, on more than one occasion, they both performed straitjacket escapes while dangling upside-down from the roof of a building.

For most of his career, Houdini was a headline act in vaudeville. For many years, he was the highest-paid performer in American vaudeville. One of Houdini's most notable non-escape stage illusions was performed at New York's Hippodrome Theater, when he vanished a full-grown elephant (with its trainer) from the stage, beneath which was a swimming pool. In 1923, Houdini became president of Martinka & Co., America's oldest magic company. The business is still in operation today.

In 1904, the London Daily Mirror newspaper challenged Houdini to escape from special handcuffs that it claimed had taken Nathaniel Hart, a locksmith from Birmingham, five years to make. Houdini accepted the challenge for March 17 during a matinée performance at London's Hippodrome theater. It was reported that 4000 people and more than 100 journalists turned out for the much-hyped event. The escape attempt dragged on for over an hour, during which Houdini emerged from his "ghost house" (a small screen used to conceal the method of his escape) several times. On one occasion he asked if the cuffs could be removed so he could take off his coat. The Mirror representative, Frank Parker, refused, saying Houdini could gain an advantage if he saw how the cuffs were unlocked. Houdini promptly took out a pen-knife and, holding the knife in his teeth, used it to cut his coat from his body. Some 56 minutes later, Houdini's wife appeared on stage and gave him a kiss. It is believed that in her mouth was the key to unlock the special handcuffs. Houdini then went back behind the curtain. After an hour and ten minutes, Houdini emerged free. As he was paraded on the shoulders of the cheering crowd, he broke down and wept. Houdini later said it was the most difficult escape of his career.

In 1901, Houdini introduced his own original act, the Milk Can Escape. In this act, Houdini was handcuffed and sealed inside an over-sized milk can filled with water and made his escape behind a curtain. As part of the effect, Houdini invited members of the audience to hold their breath along with him while he was inside the can. Advertised with dramatic posters that proclaimed "Failure Means A Drowning Death," the escape proved to be a sensation. Houdini soon modified the escape to include the milk can being locked inside a wooden chest, being chained or padlocked, and even inside another milk can. Houdini performed the milk can escape as a regular part of his act for only four years, but it has remained one of the acts most associated with him. Houdini's brother, Theodore Hardeen, continued to perform the milk can (and the wooden chest variation) into the 1940s.

In 1912, the vast number of imitators prompted Houdini to replace his Milk Can act with the Chinese Water Torture Cell. In this escape, Houdini's feet were locked in stocks, and he was lowered upside down into a tank filled with water. The mahogany and metal cell featured a glass front, through which audiences could clearly see Houdini. The stocks were locked to the top of the cell, and a curtain concealed his escape. In the earliest version of the Torture Cell, a metal cage was lowered into the cell, and Houdini was enclosed inside that. While making the escape more difficult (the cage prevented Houdini from turning), the cage bars also offered protection should the front glass break. The original cell was built in England, where Houdini first performed the escape for an audience of one person as part of a one-act play he called "Houdini Upside Down." This was so he could copyright the effect and have grounds to sue imitators (which he did). While the escape was advertised as "The Chinese Water Torture Cell" or "The Water Torture Cell," Houdini always referred to it as "the Upside Down" or "USD". The first public performance of the USD was at the Circus Busch in Berlin, on September 21, 1912. Houdini continued to perform the escape until his death in 1926.

One of Houdini's most popular publicity stunts was to have himself strapped into a regulation straitjacket and suspended by his ankles from a tall building or crane. Houdini would then make his escape in full view of the assembled crowd. In many cases, Houdini drew thousands of onlookers who brought city traffic to a halt. Houdini would sometimes ensure press coverage by performing the escape from the office building of a local newspaper. In New York City, Houdini performed the suspended straitjacket escape from a crane being used to build the New York subway. After flinging his body in the air, he escaped from the straitjacket. Starting from when he was hoisted up in the air by the crane, to when the straitjacket was completely off, it took him two minutes and thirty-seven seconds. There is film footage in the Library of Congress of Houdini performing the escape. After being battered against a building in high winds during one escape, Houdini performed the escape with a visible safety wire on his ankle so that he could be pulled away from the building if necessary. The idea for the upside-down escape was given to Houdini by a young boy named Randolph Osborne Douglas (March 31, 1895 – December 5, 1956), when the two met at a performance at Sheffield's Empire Theatre.

Another of Houdini's most famous publicity stunts was to escape from a nailed and roped packing crate after it had been lowered into water. Houdini first performed the escape in New York's East River on July 7, 1912. Police forbade him from using one of the piers, so Houdini hired a tugboat and invited press on board. Houdini was locked in handcuffs and leg-irons, then nailed into the crate which was roped and weighed down with two hundred pounds of lead. The crate was then lowered into the water. Houdini escaped in fifty-seven seconds. The crate was pulled to the surface and found still to be intact, with the manacles inside. Houdini performed this escape many times, and even performed a version on stage, first at Hamerstein's Roof Garden (where a 5,500-gallon tank was specially built), and later at the New York Hippodrome.

Houdini performed at least three variations on a "Buried Alive" stunt during his career. The first was near Santa Ana, California in 1915, and it almost cost Houdini his life. Houdini was buried, without a casket, in a pit of earth six feet deep. He became exhausted and panicked while trying to dig his way to the surface and called for help. When his hand finally broke the surface, he fell unconscious and had to be pulled from the grave by his assistants. Houdini wrote in his diary that the escape was "very dangerous" and that "the weight of the earth is killing.

In 1906 Houdini started showing films of his outside escapes as part of his vaudeville act. In Boston he presented a short film called Houdini Defeats Hackenschmidt. Georg Hackenschmidt was a famous wrestler of the day, but the nature of their contest is unknown as the film is lost. In 1909 Houdini made a film in Paris for Cinema Lux titled Merveilleux Exploits du Célébre Houdini à Paris (Marvellous Exploits of the Famous Houdini in Paris). It featured a loose narrative designed to showcase several of Houdini's famous escapes, including his straitjacket and underwater handcuff escapes. That same year Houdini got an offer to star as Captain Nemo in a silent version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but the project never made it into production.

In 1918 Houdini signed a contract with film producer B.A. Rolfe to star in a 15-part serial, The Master Mystery (released in January 1919). As was common at the time, the film serial was released simultaneously with a novel. Financial difficulties resulted in B.A. Rolfe Productions going out of business, but The Master Mystery led to Houdini being signed by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation/Paramount Pictures, for whom he made two pictures, The Grim Game (1919) and Terror Island (1920).

Neither Houdini's acting career nor FDC found success, and he gave up on the movie business in 1923, complaining that "the profits are too meager". His celebrity was such that, years later, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 7001 Hollywood Blvd).

The eyewitnesses, students named Jacques Price and Sam Smilovitz (sometimes called Jack Price and Sam Smiley), proffered accounts of the incident that generally corroborated one another. Price describes Whitehead asking Houdini "whether it was true that punches in the stomach did not hurt him", and after securing Houdini's permission to strike him, delivering "some very hammer-like blows below the belt". Houdini was reclining on a couch at the time, having broken his ankle while performing several days earlier. Price states that Houdini winced at each blow and stopped Whitehead suddenly in the midst of a punch, gesturing that he had had enough, and adding that he had had no opportunity to prepare himself against the blows, as he did not expect Whitehead to strike him so suddenly and forcefully. Had his ankle not been broken, he would have risen from the couch into a better position to brace himself.

Throughout the evening, Houdini performed in great pain. He was unable to sleep and remained in constant pain for the next two days, but did not seek medical help. When he finally saw a doctor, he was found to have a fever of 102 °F (38.9 °C) and acute appendicitis, and advised to have immediate surgery. He ignored the advice and decided to go on with the show. When Houdini arrived at the Garrick Theater in Detroit, Michigan, on October 24, 1926, for his last performance, he had a fever of 104 °F (40 °C). Despite the diagnosis, Houdini took the stage. He was reported to have passed out during the show, but was revived and continued. Afterwards, he was hospitalized at Detroit's Grace Hospital.

Harry Houdini died of peritonitis, secondary to a ruptured appendix at 1:26 p.m. in Room 401 on October 31, aged 52. In his final days, he optimistically held to a strong belief that he would recover, but his last words before dying were reportedly, "I'm tired of fighting.". Eyewitnesses to an incident at Houdini's dressing room in the Princess Theatre in Montreal gave rise to speculation that Houdini's death was caused by a McGill University student, J. Gordon Whitehead, who delivered a surprise attack of multiple blows to Houdini's abdomen.

After taking statements from Price and Smilovitz, Houdini's insurance company concluded that the death was due to the dressing-room incident and paid double indemnity

Houdini's funeral was held on November 4, 1926 in New York, with more than 2,000 mourners in attendance. He was interred in the Machpelah Cemetery in Glendale, Queens, New York, with the crest of the Society of American Magicians inscribed on his gravesite. A statuary bust was added to the exedra in 1927, a rarity, because graven images are forbidden in nearly all Jewish cemeteries. In 1975 the bust was knocked over and destroyed. Temporary busts were placed at the gravesite until 2011 when a group who came to be called The Houdini Commandos from the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania placed a permanent bust with the permission of Houdini's family and of the cemetery. For a time, the Society of American Magicians took responsibility for the upkeep of the gravesite, as Houdini had willed a large sum of money to the organization he had grown from one club to its present-day 5,000-6,000 dues-paying membership worldwide. This upkeep was abandoned by the society's dean George Schindler, who said "the operator of the cemetery, David Jacobson, sends us a bill for upkeep every year but we never pay it."

Machpelah Cemetery operator Jacobson said, "The Society of American Magicians never paid the cemetery for any restoration of the Houdini family plot in my tenure since 1988," claiming that the money came from the cemetery's dwindling funds. The granite monuments of Houdini's sister, Gladys, and brother, Leopold, are missing.

The Houdini gravesite is no longer cared for by the Society of American Magicians, but by The Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

To this day the society holds a broken wand ceremony at the gravesite each November. Houdini's widow, Bess, died of a heart attack on February 11, 1943, aged 67, in Needles, California while on a train en route from Los Angeles to New York City. She had expressed a wish to be buried next to her husband, but instead was interred at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Westchester County, New York, as her Catholic family refused to allow her to be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Sources: Wikipedia

This work released through CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Carroll Bryant Quote: 06/17/2014

"I would rather laugh myself to death than cry myself to pieces."

- Carroll Bryant

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Simple Life (A Carroll Bryant Song)

I wrote this sitting on my parents porch at the lake house one summer Sunday evening, after supper. What a memory!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ronald Reagan: The Presidents

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in an apartment on the second floor of a commercial building in Tampico, Illinois on February 6, 1911, to Jack Reagan and Nelle (Wilson) Reagan. Reagan's father was a salesman and a storyteller, the grandson of Irish Catholic immigrants from County Tipperary, while his mother had Scots and English ancestors. Reagan had one sibling, his older brother, Neil (1908–1996), who became an advertising executive. As a boy, Reagan's father nicknamed his son "Dutch", due to his "fat little Dutchman"-like appearance, and his "Dutchboy" haircut; the nickname stuck with him throughout his youth. Reagan's family briefly lived in several towns and cities in Illinois, including Monmouth, Galesburg and Chicago, in 1919, they returned to Tampico and lived above the H.C. Pitney Variety Store until finally settling in Dixon. After his election as president, residing in the upstairs White House private quarters, Reagan would quip that he was "living above the store again".

According to Paul Kengor, author of God and Ronald Reagan, Reagan had a particularly strong faith in the goodness of people, which stemmed from the optimistic faith of his mother, Nelle, and the Disciples of Christ faith, which he was baptized into in 1922. For the time, Reagan was unusual in his opposition to racial discrimination, and recalled a time in Dixon when the local inn would not allow black people to stay there. Reagan brought them back to his house, where his mother invited them to stay the night and have breakfast the next morning.

Following the closure of the Pitney Store in late 1920, the Reagans moved to Dixon; the midwestern "small universe" had a lasting impression on Reagan. He attended Dixon High School, where he developed interests in acting, sports, and storytelling. His first job was as a lifeguard at the Rock River in Lowell Park, near Dixon, in 1927. Over a six-year period, Reagan reportedly performed 77 rescues as a lifeguard, notching a mark on a wooden log for each one. Reagan attended Eureka College, where he became a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, a cheerleader, and majored in economics and sociology. He developed a reputation as a jack of all trades, excelling in campus politics, sports and theater. He was a member of the football team, captain of the swim team and was elected student body president. As student president, Reagan led a student revolt against the college president after he tried to cut back the faculty.

After graduating from Eureka in 1932, Reagan drove himself to Iowa, where he auditioned for a job at many small-town radio stations. The University of Iowa hired him to broadcast home football games for the Hawkeyes. He was paid $10 per game. Soon after, a staff announcer's job opened at radio station WOC in Davenport, and Reagan was hired, now earning $100 per month. Aided by his persuasive voice, he moved to WHO radio in Des Moines as an announcer for Chicago Cubs baseball games. His specialty was creating play-by-play accounts of games using as his source only basic descriptions that the station received by wire as the games were in progress.

While traveling with the Cubs in California, Reagan took a screen test in 1937 that led to a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers studios. He spent the first few years of his Hollywood career in the "B film" unit, where, Reagan joked, the producers "didn't want them good, they wanted them Thursday". While sometimes overshadowed by other actors, Reagan's screen performances did receive many good reviews.

His first screen credit was the starring role in the 1937 movie Love Is on the Air, and by the end of 1939 he had already appeared in 19 films, including Dark Victory with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart. Before the film Santa Fe Trail with Errol Flynn in 1940, he played the role of George "The Gipper" Gipp in the film Knute Rockne, All American; from it, he acquired the lifelong nickname "the Gipper". In 1941 exhibitors voted him the fifth most popular star from the younger generation in Hollywood.

Reagan's favorite acting role was as a double amputee in 1942's Kings Row, in which he recites the line, "Where's the rest of me?", later used as the title of his 1965 autobiography. Many film critics considered Kings Row to be his best movie, though the film was condemned by New York Times critic Bosley Crowther.

Although Reagan called Kings Row the film that "made me a star", he was unable to capitalize on his success because he was ordered to active duty with the U.S. Army at San Francisco two months after its release, and never regained "star" status in motion pictures. In the post-war era, after being separated from almost four years of World War II stateside service with the 1st Motion Picture Unit in December 1945, Reagan 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 and The Killers (his final film and the only one in which he played a villain) in a 1964 remake. Throughout his film career, his mother often answered much of his fan mail.

After completing fourteen home-study Army Extension Courses, Reagan enlisted in the Army Enlisted Reserve on April 29, 1937, as a private assigned to Troop B, 322nd Cavalry at Des Moines Iowa. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Officers Reserve Corps of the cavalry on May 25, 1937.
Reagan was ordered to active duty for the first time on April 18, 1942. Due to his nearsightedness, he was classified for limited service only, which excluded him from serving overseas. His first assignment was at the San Francisco Port of Embarkation at Fort Mason, California, as a liaison officer of the Port and Transportation Office. Upon the approval of the Army Air Force (AAF), he applied for a transfer from the cavalry to the AAF on May 15, 1942, and was assigned to AAF Public Relations and subsequently to the First Motion Picture Unit (officially, the "18th Army Air Force Base Unit") in Culver City, California. On January 14, 1943, he was promoted to first lieutenant and was sent to the Provisional Task Force Show Unit of This Is The Army at Burbank, California. He returned to the First Motion Picture Unit after completing this duty and was promoted to captain on July 22, 1943.

Reagan was first elected to the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild in 1941, serving as an alternate. Following World War II, he resumed service and became 3rd vice-president in 1946. The adoption of conflict-of-interest bylaws in 1947 led the SAG president and six board members to resign; Reagan was nominated in a special election for the position of president and subsequently elected. He was subsequently chosen by the membership to serve seven additional one-year terms, from 1947 to 1952 and in 1959. Reagan led SAG through eventful years that were marked by labor-management disputes, the Taft-Hartley Act, House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings and the Hollywood blacklist era.

During the late 1940s, Reagan and his wife provided the FBI with names of actors within the motion picture industry whom they believed to be communist sympathizers, though he expressed reservations; he said "Do they expect us to constitute ourselves as a little FBI of our own and determine just who is a Commie and who isn't?".

Reagan testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee on the subject as well. A fervent anti-communist, he reaffirmed his commitment to democratic principles, stating, "I never as a citizen want to see our country become urged, by either fear or resentment of this group, that we ever compromise with any of our democratic principles through that fear or resentment."

Though an early critic of television, Reagan landed fewer film roles in the late 1950s and decided to join the medium. He was hired as the host of General Electric Theater, a series of weekly dramas that became very popular. His contract required him to tour GE plants sixteen weeks out of the year, often demanding of him fourteen speeches per day. He earned approximately $125,000 per year (about $1.07 million in 2010 dollars) in this role. His final work as a professional actor was as host and performer from 1964 to 1965 on the television series Death Valley Days. Reagan and Nancy Davis appeared together several times, including an episode of General Electric Theater in 1958 called "A Turkey for the President".

In 1938, Reagan co-starred in the film Brother Rat with actress Jane Wyman (1917–2007). They were engaged at the Chicago Theatre, and married on January 26, 1940, at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather church in Glendale, California. Together they had two biological children, Maureen (1941–2001) and Christine (who was born in 1947 but only lived one day), and adopted a third, Michael (born 1945). Following arguments about Reagan's political ambitions, Wyman filed for divorce in 1948, citing a distraction due to her husband's Screen Actors Guild union duties; the divorce was finalized in 1949. He is the only US president to have been divorced.

Reagan met actress Nancy Davis (born 1921) in 1949 after she contacted him in his capacity as president of the Screen Actors Guild to help her with issues regarding her name appearing on a Communist blacklist in Hollywood. She had been mistaken for another Nancy Davis. She described their meeting by saying, "I don't know if it was exactly love at first sight, but it was pretty close." They were engaged at Chasen's restaurant in Los Angeles and were married on March 4, 1952, at the Little Brown Church in the San Fernando Valley. Actor William Holden served as best man at the ceremony. They had two children: Patti (born October 21, 1952) and Ron (born May 20, 1958).

Reagan began his political career as a Democrat and, in December 1945, was prevented from leading an anti-nuclear rally in Holly­wood by pressure from the Warner Bros. studio. He would later make nuclear weapons a key point of his presidency, specifically his opposition to mutually assured destruction, building on previous efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons to a new focus to reduce the numbers and types of them. In the 1948 election, Reagan strongly supported Harry S. Truman, appearing on stage with him during a campaign speech in Los Angeles. However, in the early 1950s, as his relationship with Republican actress Nancy Davis grew, he shifted to the right and, while remaining a Democrat, endorsed the presidential candidacies of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956 as well as Richard Nixon in 1960. The last time Reagan actively supported a Democratic candidate was in 1950 when he helped Helen Gahagan Douglas in her unsuccessful Senate campaign against Richard Nixon.

After being hired in 1954 to host the General Electric Theater, a TV drama series, Reagan soon began to embrace the conservative views of the sponsoring company's officials. His many GE speeches - which he wrote himself - were non-partisan but carried a conservative, pro-business message; he was influenced by Lemuel Boulware, a senior GE executive. Boulware, known for his tough stance against unions and his innovative strategies to win over workers, championed the core tenets of modern American conservatism: free markets, anticommunism, lower taxes, and limited government. Eventually, the ratings for Reagan's show fell off and GE dropped Reagan in 1962. In August of that year, Reagan formally switched to the Republican Party, stating, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left me".

In the early 1960s Reagan opposed certain civil rights legislation, saying that "if an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so." In his rationale, he cited his opposition to government intrusion into personal freedoms, as opposed to racism; he strongly denied having racist motives and later reversed his opposition to voting rights and fair housing laws. When legislation that would become Medicare was introduced in 1961, Reagan created a recording for the American Medical Association warning that such legislation would mean the end of freedom in America. Reagan said that if his listeners did not write letters to prevent it, "we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don't do this, and if I don't do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free." He also joined the National Rifle Association and would become a lifetime member.

Reagan endorsed the campaign of conservative presidential contender Barry Goldwater in 1964. Speaking for Goldwater, Reagan stressed his belief in the importance of smaller government. He revealed his ideological motivation in a famed speech delivered on October 27, 1964: "The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing." He also said, "You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream – the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order – or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism." This "A Time for Choosing" speech, which later became known as "The Speech", raised $1 million for Goldwater's campaign and is considered the event that launched Reagan's political career.

California Republicans were impressed with Reagan's political views and charisma after his "Time for Choosing" speech, he announced in late 1965, his campaign for Governor of California in 1966. He defeated former San Francisco mayor George Christopher in the GOP primary. In Reagan's campaign, he emphasized two main themes: "to send the welfare bums back to work", and, in reference to burgeoning anti-war and anti-establishment student protests at the University of California at Berkeley, "to clean up the mess at Berkeley". Ronald Reagan accomplished in 1966, what US Senator William F. Knowland in 1958 and former Vice-President Richard M. Nixon in 1962 had tried; He was elected, defeating two-term governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, and was sworn in on January 2, 1967. In his first term, he froze government hiring and approved tax hikes to balance the budget.

Shortly after the beginning of his term, Reagan tested the presidential waters in 1968 as part of a "Stop Nixon" movement, hoping to cut into Nixon's Southern support and be a compromise candidate if neither Nixon nor second-place Nelson Rockefeller received enough delegates to win on the first ballot at the Republican convention. However, by the time of the convention Nixon had 692 delegate votes, 25 more than he needed to secure the nomination, followed by Rockefeller with Reagan in third place.

Despite an unsuccessful attempt to recall him in 1968, Reagan was re-elected in 1970, defeating "Big Daddy" Jesse Unruh. He chose not to seek a third term in the following election cycle.

Reagan did not seek re-election to a third term as governor in 1974 and was succeeded by Democratic California Secretary of State Jerry Brown on January 6, 1975.

In 1976, Reagan challenged incumbent President Gerald Ford in a bid to become the Republican Party's candidate for president. Reagan soon established himself as the conservative candidate with the support of like-minded organizations such as the American Conservative Union which became key components of his political base, while President Ford was considered a more moderate Republican.

The 1980 presidential campaign between Reagan and incumbent President Jimmy Carter was conducted during domestic concerns and the ongoing Iran hostage crisis. His campaign stressed some of his fundamental principles: lower taxes to stimulate the economy, less government interference in people's lives, states' rights, a strong national defense, and restoring the U.S. Dollar to a gold standard.

To date, Reagan is the oldest man elected to the office of the presidency (at 69). In his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981, which Reagan himself wrote, he addressed the country's economic malaise arguing: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem".

On March 30, 1981, only 69 days into the new administration, Reagan, his press secretary James Brady, Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty, and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy were struck by gunfire from would-be assassin John Hinckley, Jr., outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. Although "close to death" upon arrival at George Washington University Hospital, Reagan was stabilized in the emergency room, then underwent emergency exploratory surgery. He recovered and was released from the hospital on April 11, becoming the first serving U.S. President to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. The attempt had great influence on Reagan's popularity; polls indicated his approval rating to be around 73%. Reagan believed that God had spared his life so that he might go on to fulfill a greater purpose.

Reagan implemented policies based on supply-side economics, advocating a laissez-faire philosophy and free-market fiscal policy, seeking to stimulate the economy with large, across-the-board tax cuts. He also supported returning the United States to some sort of gold standard, and successfully urged Congress to establish the U.S. Gold Commission to study how one could be implemented. Citing the economic theories of Arthur Laffer, Reagan promoted the proposed tax cuts as potentially stimulating the economy enough to expand the tax base, offsetting the revenue loss due to reduced rates of taxation, a theory that entered political discussion as the Laffer curve. Reaganomics was the subject of debate with supporters pointing to improvements in certain key economic indicators as evidence of success, and critics pointing to large increases in federal budget deficits and the national debt. His policy of "peace through strength" resulted in a record peacetime defense buildup including a 40% real increase in defense spending between 1981 and 1985.

During Reagan's presidency, federal income tax rates were lowered significantly with the signing of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 which lowered the top marginal tax bracket from 70% to 50% and the lowest bracket from 14% to 11%, however other tax increases passed by Congress and signed by Reagan, ensured that tax revenues over his two terms were 18.2% of GDP as compared to 18.1% over the 40-year period 1970-2010. Then, in 1982 the Job Training Partnership Act of 1982 was signed into law, initiating one of the United States' first public-private partnerships and a major part of the president's job creation program. Reagan's Assistant Secretary of Labor and Chief of Staff, Al Angrisani, was a primary architect of the bill. The Tax Reform Act of 1986, another bipartisan effort championed by Reagan, further reduced the top rate to 28%, raised the bottom bracket from 11% to 15%, and, cut the number of tax brackets to 4.

Conversely, Congress passed and Reagan signed into law tax increases of some nature in every year from 1981 to 1987 to continue funding such government programs as Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), Social Security, and the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 (DEFRA). Despite the fact that TEFRA was the "largest peacetime tax increase in American history", gross domestic product (GDP) growth recovered strongly after the early 1980s recession ended in 1982, and grew during his eight years in office at an annual rate of 7.91% per year, with a high of 12.2% growth in 1981. Unemployment peaked at 10.8% monthly rate in December 1982 - higher than any time since the Great Depression - then dropped during the rest of Reagan's presidency. Sixteen million new jobs were created, while inflation significantly decreased. The net effect of all Reagan-era tax bills was a 1% decrease in government revenues when compared to Treasury Department revenue estimates from the Administration's first post-enactment January budgets. However, federal income tax receipts increased from 1980 to 1989, rising from $308.7 billion to $549 billion, Reagan was still known for his lower-taxes philosophy.

Together with the United Kingdom's prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Reagan denounced the Soviet Union in ideological terms. In a famous address on June 8, 1982, to the British Parliament in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster, Reagan said, "the forward march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism–Leninism on the ash-heap of history". On March 3, 1983, he predicted that communism would collapse, stating, "Communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written". In a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals on March 8, 1983, Reagan called the Soviet Union "an evil empire".

After Soviet fighters downed Korean Air Lines Flight 007 near Moneron Island on September 1, 1983, carrying 269 people, including Georgia congressman Larry McDonald, Reagan labeled the act a "massacre" and declared that the Soviets had turned "against the world and the moral precepts which guide human relations among people everywhere". The Reagan administration responded to the incident by suspending all Soviet passenger air service to the United States, and dropped several agreements being negotiated with the Soviets, wounding them financially. As result of the shootdown, and the cause of KAL 007's going astray thought to be inadequacies related to its navigational system, Reagan announced on September 16, 1983, that the Global Positioning System would be made available for civilian use, free of charge, once completed in order to avert similar navigational errors in future.

Under a policy that came to be known as the Reagan Doctrine, Reagan and his administration also provided overt and covert aid to anti-communist resistance movements in an effort to "rollback" Soviet-backed communist governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Reagan deployed the CIA's Special Activities Division to Afghanistan and Pakistan. They were instrumental in training, equipping and leading Mujaheddin forces against the Soviet Army. President Reagan's Covert Action program has been given credit for assisting in ending the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, though some of the United States funded armaments introduced then would later pose a threat to U.S. troops in the 2000s (decade) war in Afghanistan. However, in a break from the Carter policy of arming Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, Reagan also agreed with the communist government in China to reduce the sale of arms to Taiwan.

Reagan was sworn in as president for the second time on January 20, 1985, in a private ceremony at the White House. Because January 20 fell on a Sunday, a public celebration was not held but took place in the Capitol Rotunda the following day. January 21 was one of the coldest days on record in Washington, D.C.; due to poor weather, inaugural celebrations were held inside the Capitol. In the coming weeks he shook up his staff somewhat, moving White House Chief of Staff James Baker to Secretary of the Treasury and naming Treasury Secretary Donald Regan, a former Merrill Lynch officer, Chief of Staff.

Reagan announced a War on Drugs in 1982, following concerns about the increasing crack epidemic. Though Nixon had previously declared a war on drugs, Reagan advocated more militant policies.

Reagan recognized the change in the direction of the Soviet leadership with Mikhail Gorbachev, and shifted to diplomacy, with a view to encourage the Soviet leader to pursue substantial arms agreements. Reagan's personal mission was to achieve "a world free of nuclear weapons", which he regarded as "totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization". He was able to start discussions on nuclear disarmament with General Secretary Gorbachev. Gorbachev and Reagan held four summit conferences between 1985 and 1988: the first in Geneva, Switzerland, the second in Reykjavík, Iceland, the third in Washington, D.C., and the fourth in Moscow. Reagan believed that if he could persuade the Soviets to allow for more democracy and free speech, this would lead to reform and the end of Communism.

Early in his presidency, Reagan started wearing a custom, technologically advanced hearing aid, first in his right ear and later in his left as well. His decision to go public in 1983 regarding his wearing the small, audio-amplifying device boosted their sales.

On July 13, 1985, Reagan underwent surgery at Bethesda Naval Hospital to remove cancerous polyps from his colon. He relinquished presidential power to the Vice President for eight hours in a similar procedure as outlined in the 25th Amendment, which he specifically avoided invoking. The surgery lasted just under three hours and was successful. Reagan resumed the powers of the presidency later that day. In August of that year, he underwent an operation to remove skin cancer cells from his nose. In October, additional skin cancer cells were detected on his nose and removed.

In January 1987, Reagan underwent surgery for an enlarged prostate which caused further worries about his health. No cancerous growths were found, however, and he was not sedated during the operation. In July of that year, aged 76, he underwent a third skin cancer operation on his nose.

After leaving office in 1989, the Reagans purchased a home in Bel Air, Los Angeles in addition to the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara. They regularly attended Bel Air Presbyterian Church and occasionally made appearances on behalf of the Republican Party; Reagan delivered a well-received speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. Previously on November 4, 1991, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was dedicated and opened to the public. At the dedication ceremonies, five presidents were in attendance, as well as six first ladies, marking the first time that five presidents were gathered in the same location. Reagan continued publicly to speak in favor of a line-item veto; the Brady Bill; a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget; and the repeal of the 22nd Amendment, which prohibits anyone from serving more than two terms as president. In 1992 Reagan established the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award with the newly formed Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. His final public speech was on February 3, 1994, during a tribute to him in Washington, D.C., and his last major public appearance was at the funeral of Richard Nixon on April 27, 1994.

In August 1994, at the age of 83, Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, an incurable neurological disorder which destroys brain cells and ultimately causes death.

Reagan died of pneumonia, complicated by Alzheimer's disease at his home in Bel Air, California, on the afternoon of June 5, 2004. A short time after his death, Nancy Reagan released a statement saying, "My family and I would like the world to know that President Ronald Reagan has died after 10 years of Alzheimer's disease at 93 years of age. We appreciate everyone's prayers." President George W. Bush declared June 11 a National Day of Mourning, and international tributes came in from around the world. Reagan's body was taken to the Kingsley and Gates Funeral Home in Santa Monica, California later in the day, where well-wishers paid tribute by laying flowers and American flags in the grass. On June 7, his body was removed and taken to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where a brief family funeral was held conducted by Pastor Michael Wenning. His body lay in repose in the Library lobby until June 9; over 100,000 people viewed the coffin.

His burial site is inscribed with the words he delivered at the opening of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library: "I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life."

Sources: Wikipedia

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