Remembering Nancy Reagan's brief Hollywood career

LOS ANGELES -- Before Nancy Reagan became a fixture in the national consciousness and on home television sets, the late first lady also shared the big screen with the likes of Barbara Stanwyck, Ava Gardner, Glenn Ford and Ray Milland in her short career as a Hollywood actress in the post-war era.

See Full Article

After a few years on Broadway, Reagan, then Nancy Davis, moved to California and signed a seven-year contract with Metro Goldwyn Mayer, leading to roles in 11 features -- her last of which was the 1958 feature "Crash Landing," a middling Fred F. Sears drama about a pilot (Gary Merrill) reflecting on his troubled marriage (to Reagan's character) in the midst of an engine crisis over the Atlantic.

She was never the biggest star, but she had her moments in a wide variety of genres from noir to melodrama, often as loving and supportive wives and girlfriends.

THE DOCTOR AND THE GIRL (1949)

Nancy Reagan's first big screen role was in director Curtis Bernhardt's drama about a wealthy doctor (Glenn Ford) who defies his family's wishes by opening a practice in a poorer neighbourhood. Reagan played the main character's sister Mariette, who is engaged to a class-lusting physician (played by Warner Anderson).

EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE (1950)

In this Mervyn LeRoy-directed melodrama about a married couple torn apart by the husband's infidelities, Reagan played Helen Lee, a socialite and best friend to Barbara Stanwyck's wronged wife. James Mason played Stanwyck's philandering husband, one of whose consorts was Ava Gardner. "The ladies all wear expensive garments and the gentlemen drink expensive booze. But that still doesn't elevate the effort above the level of hopeful pretense," wrote New York Times critic Bosley Crowther in his review.

SHADOW ON THE WALL (1950)

After a run of playing mostly wives and girlfriends, Reagan got a particularly meaty and serious role in this Pat Jackson-directed psychological crime thriller about a 6-year-old girl (Gigi Perreau) who loses her memory after witnessing the murder of her stepmother. Reagan played a doctor who endeavours to help cure the girl and makes some critical discoveries about the nature of the murder along the way.

The New York Times said Reagan gave a "beautiful and convincing" performance.

THE NEXT VOICE YOU HEAR ... (1950)

When God starts giving radio broadcasts in this odd little William A. Wellman film, a married couple (James Whitmore and Nancy Reagan) and their 11-year-old son living in suburban Los Angeles are forced to confront their own faith. Reagan was praised for her "delightful" performance as the kind, gentle and very pregnant wife in the film.

NIGHT INTO MORNING (1951)

Reagan plays a widow who saves Ray Milland from his depression and drunkenness after his wife and child die tragically in a fire. Milland and Reagan were both applauded for their performances, but the melancholy story was seen as a bit of a letdown.

HELLCATS OF THE NAVY (1957)

This WWII-set film about a submarine commander charting minefields off the Japanese coast marks the only time Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan, already married for five years, shared the big screen. As the land-locked love interest, Nancy Reagan didn't have much to do besides fret though. It's far from a classic -- in fact it's somewhat derided -- but the film remains an interesting document of historical value just by nature of the fact that it features the future President and first lady.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • How to snag tickets to hit musical Hamilton? You might have to go back to school

    Entertainment CBC News
    More than 2,000 students got into the hottest show in Chicago for free — Hamilton: An American Musical — as part of their acceptance to Northwestern University. It's one of the ways colleges and high schools are using the hugely popular musical to teach students about history, art, drama, culture, and even politics. Source
  • Uma Thurman lashes out at Harvey Weinstein in cryptic post

    Entertainment CTV News
    H A P P Y T H A N K S G I V I N G I am grateful today, to be alive, for all those I love, and for all those who have the courage to stand up for others. Source
  • Bookies halt Prince Harry marriage bets, citing engagement 'to be confirmed imminently'

    Entertainment CBC News
    A major London bookmaker has suspended betting on whether Prince Harry will marry American actress Meghan Markle in 2018 amid rumours an engagement may be announced soon. Jessica Bridge of Ladbrokes said Friday that it seems an engagement announcement "is to be confirmed imminently. Source
  • Cadbury, Smirnoff pull YouTube ads over clips of scantily clad children

    Entertainment CBC News
    ?Lidl, Cadbury maker Mondelez, Diageo and other big companies have pulled advertising from YouTube after the Times newspaper found the video sharing site was showing clips of scantily clad children alongside the ads of major brands. Comments from hundreds of pedophiles were posted alongside the images, which appeared to have been uploaded by the children themselves, according to a Times investigation. Source
  • Amid royal engagement rumours, prominent bookmaker suspends betting

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON - A major London bookmaker has suspended betting on whether Prince Harry will marry American actress Meghan Markle next year amid rumours an engagement may be announced soon. Jessica Bridge of Ladbrokes says it seems an engagement announcement “is to be confirmed imminently. Source
  • Lawren Harris pencil sketch fetches record $161,000: Auction house

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- A Toronto auctioneer says a pencil sketch by Lawren Harris sold for $161,000 this week, a record price for a pencil sketch by the Group of Seven Artist. Consignor Canadian Fine Art says the preparatory work for Harris's famous Lake Superior sold for nearly five times its estimated sale value of between $20,000 and $30,000. Source
  • Canadian screen industry wants code of conduct on sexual harassment

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Groups that represent actors, talent agencies, directors and other employees of Canada's film and television industry say a code of conduct will be one of several steps toward tackling sexual harassment in the industry. Source
  • Canadian screen industry wants code of conduct to deal with sexual misconduct

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Groups that represent actors, talent agencies, directors and other employees of Canada's film and television industry say a code of conduct will be one of several steps toward tackling sexual harassment in the industry. Source
  • Movie reviews: 'Coco' celebrates the vibrancy of Day of the Dead

    Entertainment CTV News
    COCO: 4 STARS The Mexican tradition of honouring their deceased loved ones on Day of the Dead forms the backbone, both visually and emotionally, of the new Pixar film “Coco.” Miguel Rivera (Anthony Gonzalez) is a 12-year-old aspiring musician and devoted fan of the “world’s greatest musician,” the late, great Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Source
  • Canadian screen stars want code of conduct to deal with sexual harassment

    Entertainment CBC News
    Groups representing actors, directors and others in Canada's film and television industry say a code of conduct will be one of several steps toward tackling sexual harassment in the industry. More than a dozen organizations convened a closed-door meeting on Thursday in Toronto to discuss what can be done to curb the problem. Source