REAGAN, Ronald (1911-2004), President. Four autograph letters signed ("Ronald Reagan," "Ronald" and "Ronnie"), with an additional full signature in the text, to "Rena," Burbank, California, 1948-1950. Together 8 pages, 4to and 8vo, one letter on Warner Brothers Studios stationery.
"I GUESS YOU HAVEN'T HEARD ABOUT JANE DIVORCING ME"
A most revealing group of letters written to a female admirer identified only by her first name, in which Reagan offers rare insight into the causes of his divorce from Jane Wyman and speaks (with surprising detachment) about the death of his and Wyman's infant daughter, Christine, and mentions his busy movie career and work for the Screen Actors Guild. "I guess you haven't heard about Jane divorcing me," Reagan writes in the 8 September 1948 letter. "Yes, she was expecting another baby, or rather we were, but it came premature, and lived only a few hours, then when Jane returned from the hospital, she was only home a few days when she was called to work in the 'Johnny Belinda' picture, it was pretty hard on her, but she certainly should win an Oscar this year for the fine piece of work she did in this picture." Neither Wyman nor Reagan ever commented publicly about the problems that led to their divorce. But Reagan's linkage here of the death of the infant Christine and the ensuing divorce is quite revealing. Wyman did indeed receive the best actress Oscar in 1949 for her portrayal of Belinda McDonald, a deaf mute, who--the irony is almost painful--becomes pregnant as the result of a rape.
In one of the undated letters (from internal evidence, Jan.-Feb. 1950) Reagan goes on to joke about his love life and mentions his work for the Screen Actors Guild: "it's a pretty busy time for me. As Pres. of the Screen Actors Guild it keeps me busy nearly every evening...So don't believe all you read in the papers or hear broadcast, they say I'm out with different girls, and about to marry each one." He mentions the birthdays of his two other children: "Maureen was 9 years old Jan. 4th and Michael will be 5, Mar. 17th." He talks about his work on the pictures "Storm Center," "Tar Baby," and "The Last Outpost;" laments the broken leg he sustained in a benefit baseball game in June 1949; and boasts with pride that he personally answers all his fan mail, even though he mocks what he calls his child-like scrawl. "I was born left handed but was made to use my right hand," he explains. "I think that is why I write the way I do." A revealing and biographically important set of Reagan letters. Together 4 items. (4)