The Children of Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan married actress Jane Wyman for the first time in 1940. Maureen, born in 1941, and Christine, born in 1947; Christine died in infancy; Michael, an adoptive son, was born in 1945. Reagan and Wyman divorced in 1949, but Reagan met and fell in love with another actress, Nancy Davis, the same year. Ronald and Nancy’s long-lasting friendship would become a classic American love tale.

Maureen Elizabeth Reagan

Maureen—nicknamed “Mermie”—was born in Los Angeles and spent her early years as the daughter of a prominent Hollywood performing couple. Even as a child, movie reporters documented her activities, saying that she would have vigorous sessions at the piano, playing and singing for hours. Maureen lived with her mother after her parent’s marriage fell apart, and despite her boarding school background, she desired to be an actor.

She appeared in films alongside her mother as a guest star. According to observers, Maureen was beautiful, taller than her mother, and had the intelligence of a mature woman by the age of fourteen.

Maureen finished high school at Marymount Secondary School in 1958 and attended Marymount University for a year before dropping out to pursue secretarial studies. She was raised a Catholic, the faith in which her mother had converted. She joined the Miss Washington beauty pageant in 1959 on a dare from her friends, attempting–and failing–to disguise her identity.

She attempted but failed to cobble together an acting career in the early 1960s. Simultaneously, she battled to maintain a stable personal life, marrying and divorcing in 1961 to 1962, then married again in 1964, only to divorce again in 1967. Dennis C. Revell of Revell Communications, with whom she had a third marriage in 1981, lasted until her death. The couple had one adopted daughter.

Maureen Reagan, like her father, became a Republican spokeswoman and worked on the Republican National Committee, albeit her social beliefs were far more liberal. In 1982 and 1992, she ran unsuccessfully for the Senate and the House of Representatives.

She wrote a biography on her father and their often-strained relationship in 1989. Still, after his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease, she became an outspoken advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, putting her health on hold to help the cause. On August 8, 2001, she died of melanoma.

Michael Edward Reagan

Mike Reagan was born in Los Angeles on March 18, 1945, to unmarried parents, US Army veteran John Bourgholtzer and Essie Irene Flaugher. His real name was John Charles Flaugher, but the Reagans altered it. Mike, like Maureen, was sent to boarding school when his parents separated; however, his boarding school experiences were far more traumatic than hers. Later in adulthood, he would recall the loneliness and bullying he experienced due to his illegitimacy. He would also reveal that he was sexually molested by a photographer in an after-school program when he was eight years old.

Mike Reagan struggled to focus in school and grow appropriately as a teenager due to the emotional trauma induced by the abuse. In 1959, he left his mother’s home and moved in with his father and Nancy Reagan in Pacific Palisades, California, searching for acceptance and stability. They tried their hardest to look after him, but they had their children and limited space, so Mike had to sleep on a sofa and use a guest bathroom. He had to go to boarding school as well.

Mike Reagan performed a series of modest jobs after short periods at Arizona State University and Los Angeles Valley College, married in 1971, and divorced in 1972. He remarried in 1975 and had two children after finding newfound purpose and meaning in Christianity. Michael Reagan: On the Outside Looking In, a book he authored in 1988, exposes the terrible realities of his childhood.

His connection with his adoptive family had been strained, and he had planned the book to be a harsh condemnation of their parenting, but he changed his mind. He was still scared of telling the truth to his father and Nancy Reagan. Surprisingly, they were supportive, and Mike reconnected with his biological family as a result.

Mike Reagan’s early attempts to get into the acting business failed miserably. He went on to have a successful broadcasting career, eventually launching a syndicated radio discussion program. Unlike his siblings, he advocated for a strict Christian conservative social agenda, opposing homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Mike has also been a vocal supporter of his father’s legacy.

Patricia Ann Reagan

Patti Reagan, born in Los Angeles on October 21, 1952, had a successful show business career and was critical of her parents. Her disobedience was evident from the start, even as she campaigned for her father in the 1966 gubernatorial race.

Her parents wished for a more traditional appearance, but they were unsuccessful. Even though her mother “fretted” over the length, she continued to defy her mother by wearing miniskirts.

Patti became a model after studying dramatic arts and creative writing at Northwestern University and the University of Southern California. She led a free and easy lifestyle, famously cohabiting with Eagles musician Bernie Leadon.

In the 1980s, Patti Davis not only refused to support the Republican Party or campaign for her father, but she also stated publicly that she wanted he would quit politics and return to the ranch.

In the 1990s, she became an anti-nuclear campaigner, appeared on TV, and posed for Playboy. She also switched her last name from Reagan to Davis to “create her own identity,” as she put it. 

Patti’s debut novel, Deadfall, published in 1986, had a barely concealed criticism of her parents, which she voiced more openly in her memoir, The Way I See It, published in 1992. She’s worked as a journalist and a television scriptwriter since then.

Ronald Prescott Reagan

Ron Reagan, born in Los Angeles on May 20, 1958, has been the most critical of his parents’ political legacy of any of the Reagan children. His independent thinking was apparent early on when he declared himself an agnostic and refused to attend church at the age of twelve, resulting in lengthy dinner-table confrontations with his parents. Ron Reagan’s family recollections were fond, even though he wished his father had spent more time with his children.

Like his sister Patti, Ron Reagan was a rebellious student at school, and despite being accepted to Yale University, he dropped out after one semester. He then became a ballet dancer to express himself creatively. Despite reports in the press that Ronald Reagan disapproved of his son’s choice, Ron Reagan recalls that his dad was more intrigued than anything else and that he even sought advice from Gene Kelly about where Ron could train. During his two years as president, Ron did not publicly criticize his father.

Ron Reagan has been a frequent leftist pundit on television and radio since the 1980s. He has harshly criticized his parents’ politics in general and the Republican Party, particularly on radio, television, and elsewhere, while being less caustic than Patti. He is most known for advocating for the “Freedom from Religion Foundation,” proclaiming himself a “lifelong atheist” and rejecting his father’s and brother’s Christian beliefs. My father at 100, Ron Reagan’s book, was released in 2011.