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Who’s that “Hollywood actor?”

by Maija Anderson, OHSU Historical Collections & Archives

November 24, 2014

Ronald ReaganIn 1961, Oregon newspapers announced that a “Hollywood actor” and “television personality” would be visiting Portland as part of a national speaking tour.  At the time, the actor was then best known as the host of a weekly TV program, General Electric Theater. He also worked as a spokesman for G.E., a position that sometimes required him to make up to fourteen speeches per day.

That actor was, of course, Ronald Reagan. His speaking tour included a stop at the University of Oregon Medical School, where he was photographed in front of the library. He is pictured here with UOMS dean Dr. David W.E. Baird, and public affairs director Joseph J. Adams, both standing at left. The man on the right is unidentified. Also unidentified are the subjects the four men may have discussed. Given Reagan’s position with G.E., it could well have been medical technology.

This photograph shows Reagan at a pivotal time in his career. Those who remember him as Governor of California and President of the United States may be surprised to learn that at the time this picture was taken, Reagan was a Democrat. However, he was becoming more conservative in his views, and he switched to the Republican Party the following year. It was also during this time that Reagan began transitioning from his career as an actor to an emerging interest in politics.

Many politicians have visited the OHSU campus over the years, and notable Oregon politicians, such as Mark Hatfield and John Kitzhaber, have strong historical ties to the institution.

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