Reagan Checks In

Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman
Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman

Despite the hotel’s incipient tawdriness, Hollywood still checked in, usually ready to play. It was a favorite retreat for husbands who’d separated from their wives. Humphrey Bogart did it in 1945 – and so did future president Ronald Reagan when his marriage to Jane Wyman fell apart in 1948.

Reagan apparently spent a lot of time in the hotel bar drowning his sorrows and chatting up young actresses- “playing the field,” as he put it. It impressed them to learn that he was president of the actors’ union, the Screen Actors Guild.

“A series of women passed through Ronald Reagan’s bedroom in those years,” celebrity biographer Kitty Kelley wrote, “so many, in fact, that he later told Joe Santley, a publicist, that he once found himself in the Garden of Allah Hotel with a woman he didn’t know. ‘I woke up one morning and I couldn’t remember the name of the gal I was in bed with. I said, ‘Hey, I gotta get a grip here.’”

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis, goddaughter of Alla Nazimova, 1950s
Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis, goddaughter of Alla Nazimova, 1950s

Reagan eventually moved into an apartment down the Strip at 1326B Londonderry View Drive. He continued to play the field, dating a series of Nordic blondes, including Doris Day. He lived in the apartment until he met his second wife, Nancy Davis – the goddaughter of Garden of Allah founder Alla Nazimova.

Ronnie and Nancy were married on March 4, 1952, and soon afterward they moved to the Westside of Los Angeles. Reagan’s film career went into a slide in the 1950s – he played opposite a chimpanzee in “Bedtime for “Bonzo” in 1951, for example. He went on to work a lot in television, with recurring roles in several series. In the mid-1960s, however, he abandoned acting for politics, serving two terms as governor of California before being elected president in 1980.

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