Ronald Prescott Reagan (Ron Reagan Jr.), born in 1958, is Nancy and Ronald Reagan’s son. Ron was married and his wife passed away a few years ago, but they didn’t have any children. Ron caused a lot of controversy over the years by being a political advocate for many things that were the opposite of his father’s beliefs, including being a staunch liberal and an outspoken atheist. But he will be the first to say that his political beliefs didn’t affect his relationship with his dad. When his father got sick and passed away, Ron was right there by Nancy’s side, comforting her at the funeral and providing support. He provided an amazing eulogy for his dad and it’s obvious he inherited his father’s great talent for speaking.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Ron Reagan Is an Outspoken Liberal and Atheist
At the age of 12, Ron announced that he was an atheist and would no longer attend church with his parents. He’s still an atheist to this day, and recently appeared in a commercial on Comedy Central for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, where he declared himself an “unabashed atheist” not afraid of “burning in hell.”
Ronald’s outspoken nature has sometimes gotten him in trouble with other members of the Reagan family. When he wrote a memoir about his dad, “My Father at 100,” he said in an interview that he wondered if his dad had suffered from early Alzheimer’s at the end of his presidency. Ron’s brother, Michael, struck out at Ron for the comment and Ron later said that he had never meant to imply that his dad had any form of dementia while president.
It was after his father left the White House that Ron became more active in liberal politics. Ron was always careful to point out that he and his dad weren’t on bad terms because of their political differences.
2. He Was a Professional Ballet Dancer and His Dad Said He Danced Like Fred Astaire
Ron dropped out of Yale after less than a year to pursue his dream of being a professional ballet dancer. He danced with the prestigious Joffrey II company in New York. He was incredibly talented. Although there was some speculation about his parents’ not attending his performances, they went in 1981 and Ronald Reagan wrote in his White House journals that his son danced like Fred Astaire.
His brother, Michael Reagan, once ruefully said that Ron could get away with anything when it came to Nancy and Ronald, The Chicago Tribune reported in 1988. Michael listed things like “dancing in his underpants on Saturday Night Live,” forgetting to invite his parents to his wedding, and not making speeches during campaigns. “Ron is one of those lucky kids in a family who never does anything wrong,” Michael said.
3. He Was Married for More Than 30 Years, But Didn’t Have Children
Ron was married to Doria Palmieri for many years before she passed away. He and Doria, a clinical psychologist, were married in a secret wedding in a judge’s office in New York in 1980. Doria was seven years older than Ron.
They met at a dance studio and were inseparable. At their wedding, Doria wore blue crewneck sweater, blue jeans, and cowboy boots and Ron wore jeans, a read sweatshirt and running shoes: a far cry from the typical weddings that children of Presidents have, People reported in 1980. They were very much in love. Friends said they were inseparable from the moment they met in 1977 at a dance studio in LA. A friend said, “It wasn’t the kind of thing where he had to chase her… THey just saw each other and had to be together.” The two never had children, but shared their home with three cats, The Washington Post reported. They were still married when Doria passed away in 2014 from complications from a progressive neuromuscular disease.
4. Ron Did Not Attend a Prayer Service for Nancy Reagan, But He Said Beautiful Words About Her At the Funeral
Ron Reagan and his sister, Patricia Reagan (Patti Davis), have always been close. However, Patti said she felt “a little bit” alone when Ron didn’t show up for a prayer service at the Reagan Library before Nancy’s lying in repose ceremony. Davis had to walk solo behind the casket as it was brought into the library, New York Daily News reported. (Michael Reagan, her half-brother, is also out of town on business in Asia, and won’t be able to make Nancy’s funeral.) She said she didn’t know why Ron didn’t come and it wasn’t her question to answer.
They were both at Nancy Reagan’s funeral to share eulogies and thoughts about their mom. Ron Reagan’s words were particularly poignant. He said that he didn’t think Ronald would even run for office without Nancy. She gave him a refuge to repair, protected him, and encouraged him. He said:
Both possessed great individual talents but as a couple, they were more than the sum of their parts. It would be a mistake to consider her somehow subordinate to him. They were coequals, they complemented one another.”
You can read more about the beautiful words he shared at the funeral here.
5. He Has Already Spoken Out Against This Year’s Presidential Campaign
Recently, Ron rejected the idea that any of the Republican candidates could be the next Ronald Reagan, Politico reported. Ron was especially upset about people comparing Donald Trump to his dad, and said that idea disgusted him:
“I can’t think of two people who are more diametrically opposed. This egotistical, narcissistic guy with the weird comb over swanning in his private plane. … I mean, look in the mirror, fat boy. Look at that hair, you’re ridiculous! Where do you get off talking on anybody’s appearance? It’s just so unchivalrous. My father would recoil at that sort of thing.”
He added that these days, he doesn’t think the GOP is even a legitimate political party because they’re not interested in governing anymore. His dad, he added, is much more talented than the people who ran for office this year. His charisma and “seriousness of purpose” put him in a different field.