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tv   [untitled]    February 20, 2012 8:30pm-9:00pm EST

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decisions that were wrong, and as we leave office a good many instances most of the people seem to feel that most of the things we have done have been wrong. but every man who's everffice o this desk or reclined in this chair has been dedicated to doing what he believes was for the best interest of the people of this country. i'm utterly convinced that when any man takes the oath of office as president, he is determined to do what is right as god gives him the wisdom to know the right. most people come in to the office with great dreams, and they leave it with many
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satisfactions and some disappointments and always some of their dreams have not come true. but i'm so grateful and so proud that i have had my chance, and as to how successful we have been and doing the greatest good for the greatest number, the people themselves and their posterity must ultimately dec e decide. i have the satisfaction, my family has the satisfaction that we gave it all we had. and we think we provided some of the answers to the needs of our time.
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all day today, american history tv is featuring america's first ladies. who do you think was our most influential first lady? vote and join the conversation with us on facebook at there's a new website for american history tv where you can find ourchpreview our upcom.
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watch featured program from a istory in ekly series as well as the news and social media from facebook, youtube and twitter and four square. follow american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span 3 and online at american history tv usually is shown on the weekends on c-span 3 will continue this week in primetime. our focus is black history month. at 8:00 eastern with the ground breaking of the new smithsonian museum tank place wednesday on the national mall, the museum's founding director takes us through the storage facility to see some of the artifacts that will be on display. and the relationship between martin luther king, jr., and his mentors. at 10:00 to memphis, tennessee, as we tour the national civil righ rights museum.
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and then at 10:30 from water bury, connecticut, professor william foster teaches the class on the history of the "n" word with a focus on uncle tom's cabin and mark twain's huckleberry finn. this is american history tv on c-span three. you're joining us on c-span 3 american history tv every weekend. 48 hours of the people and the events that tell the american story. we're continuing our special look at the nation's first ladies on this presidents' day weekend. and we revisit nancy reagan's 1999 tour of the ronald reagan presidential library. >> mrs. reagan, for somebody who's not been to this library, how do you get here? where is it? >> it's in simi valley, and it sits high on 100 acres. and it's not too far from los
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angeles. we can leave our house and be here in 45 minutes. it's beautiful. just beautiful. everybody should come and see it. >> one of the things that struck me after being at the ranch was there some similarity here. the winding roads and all that. do you think about that? >> well, ronnie always liked to be high, shining city on the hill. our house in bel air is high. and the ranch is high. this is high. and that always peopled -- he could never live in a valley. you know, in a valley, i guess you'd call it. >> when you thought about this library, what was your objective? >> our objective was to have his legacy here and he -- he wanted very much to have everything
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here. so that people could come and see and read all of his papers and see all of the history of him and of me, but mostly him. and it's here for everybody. >> when you see the early years here, what's -- what comes to mind? >> yeah. well this is -- this is where ronnie was born. he was born above the store, as he keeps always saying. small little room. he was -- he and his brother neil. they were very close in age. two years apart in age. his mother and father.
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>> have you been to tampico? >> yes, i have been there in dixon. >> over here, we've got some of the things we have been talking about lately with the program. you've got the eureka sweater. >> yes. >> what else do you like here? >> well, there's his mother and father and his brother and ronnie. and that's at school here. this is at school. >> grade school? >> yeah. there's ronnie putting his hand up to his cheek, his chin. and that little girl down there with the checked blouse, he had a crush on that little girl. i could have -- he asked me i h crush on and i said that one. >> did he tell you her name? >> no, he couldn't remember.
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>> you grew up how far from the dixon area? >> well, i grew up in chicago. i don't know -- it was close. >> what part of chicago did you live in? >> nurna side. that's the lifeguard where he saved 77 lives. he loved -- he loved those summers when he lifeguarded. he always said that he -- he didn't have to worry about money because he never -- he never could spend the money. he'd go in the early morning and work all the way through until late at night. he never had any chance to spend money. >> did you know his parents? >> i knew his mother. his father died -- his father died very young, 58. and it was before i knew ronnie. >> anything you see here from these early years you want to talk about just holler. as we walk through, we're going over to the hollywood years.
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>> yes. i thought it was cute. >> "bedtime for bonzo." now, you know, there's so much talk about this movie. i have to tell you i thought the movie was funny. >> i thought it was a cute movie. >> what year was it? >> gee, i don't know. i don't know. i don't know. >> what was his first year for acting and what was your first year? >> oh, dear. to ask me years is fatal. >> '40s? >> my first year was -- had to be '49. in movies. i had been in theater before in new york. >> what was it that got you interested in the movie and the theater and acting? >> well, my mother was an actress. and i had gone to college and graduated and hadn't found the man i wanted to marry and i didn't want to sit in chicago and do nothing. so i became an actress.
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>> any picture up here that's your favorite from your acting days? for instance? what's this one right here? >> that's -- we were at chasen's with bill holden and don -- that was at chasen's. this was at the stork club. our first visit to new york after we were married. i was so excited. >> did he change from that day as he got older much? >> no. never. never. ronnie -- ronnie stayed the same all the time. he never changed. >> how many movies did you act in? >> 11. >> did you act together? >> once. >> what was that like? >> "hellcats of the navy." it was fun, except they had a scene -- he played a man in
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service, commander abbott. and i played a navy nurse. and there was a scene where he was supposed to be telling me good-bye. and we hadn't been married too long. oh, dear. i took it all very seriously. and i started to cry. and they had to keep reshooting and reshooting. >> there's a picture i want to ask you about over here. you've got president reagan here, jack benny, george burns, and you're going to have to help -- >> that's al jolson, yes, yes. >> did you know all and these folks? >> i didn't know al jolson. i knew jack benny and george burns and ronald reagan. >> well, what was his
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relationship to them? >> i don't know what this was. i don't know what this was. >> but right over here though is a political -- >> this was a favorite picture of mine. >> this one? >> mm-hmm. grover cleveland and alexander. that was -- i loved that picture. >> political question i wanted to ask you about is over here with president truman. with your husband endorsing president truman right there. >> oh, yes, he was a big fan of truman's. >> are people surprised when people find out -- >> yes. >> what did he like about him? >> he liked him because he thought he was strong and direct and principled. he just liked him. >> were you interested in politics? >> no, i wasn't. i wasn't. >> can you remember -- >> i knew nothing about politics when we got married. nothing. >> were your mother and father political? >> no. not really. >> do you remember the first time you got interested? >> well, after i married ronnie.
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he'd always been involved in politics. i mean, he'd always go out and campaign for whoever he was interested in. and in those days, you know, he'd get in the car and just drive to wherever the event was. never occurred to him to ever ask for gasoline money or a car or driver. you know, never occurred to him. >> is it hard -- right behind you are pictures of your husband with a lot of leading ladies. it is hard to watch your spouse in some of these scenes in these movies? >> no. yes and no. no. he always talked about the actors who would get leading laditis as he called it. and it ended as soon as the
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picture was over. >> and the hollywood years. >> this is taking out our marriage license. >> how many years ago? >> 47. it will be 48 in march. coming up 48. >> let's move over to the inauguration years and -- actually, before we get there let's go to the governors time. the years that you were in sacramento, what were they? >> eight years. they were wonderful years. well, they were wonderful and they were difficult years because that was during the '60s and the rioting in berkeley and they were difficult years, but he -- and pat brown wanted
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ronnie to win the primary because he thought he'd be the easiest to defeat. turned out to not be so. >> on this wall over here something i know you were involved in, but so was the president. these are the p.o.w. bracelets. >> oh, yes. >> but that one down there is lieutenant commander mccain. you see pictures of john mccain with the governor and he often credits him for getting interested in all this. >> well, he gave -- when they first came back, we had dinners for the first ones to arrive back. and i have some wonderful presents that they would give me. some brought me the tin cups that they ate from. or a spoon that they used or a package of cigarettes.
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it was -- it was -- and to hear their stories, you couldn't believe what these men went through. i mean, it was unbelievable. and yet you thought to yourself, you wondered if god forbid that you would be in the same spot if you could withstand that. i don't know. >> and now as i said let's go on to the inauguration for president. january the 20th, 1981. do you remember what you felt like standing there? >> you know, it's terrible. very, very emotional moment for me. like when we got married. i remember very little of it. i don't even remember when the man said i pronounce you man and wife. i don't remember it.
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i wish we could run it all over again. could we do it all over again? >> do you feel the sense of t the -- you know, of the reins being passed on when you're standing there and he takes the oath? >> well, i don't think it really hits you until after the parade and you walk into the white house for the first time and then -- and then you -- then it hits you. i think that's when it does. >> what kind of things would he talk about during this time? between the two of you? what was -- yeah -- >> during the eight years? >> no, no, during the beginning of all this, during the inauguration. is he nervous about it, excited? >> excited yes, of course. and the parade and seeing people. the groups that were in the parade and our friends all being there. it was -- i mean, there were
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only what, 39 people ahead of him who had ever done that. and -- >> there's a button right over here that has to do with the hostages that day. >> yes. that was a big -- the hostages were released. but he didn't announce it until we went in for lunch because he wanted them to get out of the iranian air space and then he got up and announced that they were -- >> when did you know that was going to happen? >> we didn't know until i think it was -- well, it was after the swearing in. but he couldn't announce it. didn't want to announce it until they were out of iranian air space as i say. >> when people come to the library, is there one or two things that they find to be their favorite?
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>> well, you'd really have to ask them. i think they're always curious about the berlin wall. and the whole thing is so -- i mean, it's all here. everything in his life is here. it would be hard for me to say which one they would choose. >> right over here is march 30, 1981. where were you when you heard the president had been shot? >> i was at a luncheon, an art gallery luncheon. and for some reason, this never happened to me before and god willing won't happen to me again, but feeling i had to go.
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and -- >> you mean just -- >> just -- i don't know what it was. i just had the feeling i had to get back to the white house. and i did. i went up to the solarium. we were doing a lot of work there at the time. george alford, who was head of my detail came -- there was a ramp up to the solarium. and he came the bottom and beckoned me to come down. i thought, that's funny. why doesn't he just come up. i went down. he said, there's been a shooting. and by that time i'm on my way to the elevator. we went down the elevator. he says he hasn't been shot. he hasn't been hurt.
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and we got downstairs. he kept saying -- i said, i'm going to the hospital. he said, it's not necessary. he hasn't been hurt. they are on their -- it's not necessary. i said, george, you either get the car, or i'm going to walk. and we got to the hospital and mike deaver met me at the hospital and said he has been shot. and there were police all around and a lot of noise. they put me in a little small room. there was one desk and one chair. that was it. i kept wanting to see ronnie.
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and they kept saying, he's all right, but you can't see him. i kept saying, well, if he's all right, why can't i see him? finally they let me see him. he was lying there with that thing on his face to help him breathe. he lifted it up. that's when he said, honey, i forgot to duck. >> did the two of you ever talk about the danger you faced, potential assassination? >> never thought about it. never thought about it. you don't think about that. you think maybe your husband might get sick. shot, ever. we never thought about it. >> over here you've got the actual x-ray. have you looked at that? what was the decision on the x-ray?
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>> they had a hard time. the bullet ended up -- it was a devastator bullet. the bullet ended up an inch or two from his heart. they couldn't find it. every time they would think they had it, it would get away from by that time they had moved me out of that little room up to a room up above, which was a large room with televisions going. the nurse kept coming up there telling me what was happening, the progress. and she finally came up and said, well, we just can't seem to get it. we might have to leave it in him.dea me.finay this wonderfu doctor, who had been up all night we found out later with a
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patient found it and got it out. but it was -- we almost lost him. >> you know we were at the ranch yesterday. o of the things that hit me when i was up there, we were talking to john barleta from the secret service, that any time you were there in tt 54 secret service on the perimeter. it seemed to me when i was there, you'd feel very funny knowing all these people were out there. >> no. the house didn't seem so little to us. the house seemed just wonderful to us, just right. we didn't want a great big house. you know, when we wanted to vacation, ronnie always liked to be outdoors and build things, as
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john told you yesterday. john told you about. we made a lot of changes in the house, which john told you about. you may not know about. we enclosed the porch. we put a fireplace on the porch. there was no heating or air conditioning or anything like that. but it was heaven for us. we loved it. >> one of the other things that struck me, it can be very cold in that little house and can be hot, i assume, on a hot day. no air conditioning, no heat. >> no. >> i don't know whether i should go this far but sounds like you were roughing it in this place. how did you deal with it? >> didn't seem to me we were roughing it. i loved it. we had fires, electric blanket. >> do you miss it? >> oh, yes, i do miss it. i do miss it. but i couldn't go this without ronnie. >> why don't we go look at the gifts? >> okay. >> mrs. reagan, we're in the
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gifts part of mu let's start with the egg. >> the egg was from king faud. it's a beautiful, beautiful little egg. almost like a faberge egg. he gave very nice presents. >> what did you think -- i don't know if it was a requirement or not, but of the practice of gives gifts between heads of state? >> well, it was very nice. for us, it was a little embarrassing. you were limited as to what you could give financially. >> dollarwise? >> yeah. >> do you remember what the element was? >> i think it was -- gohi. and they gave us beautiful, beautiful things. you felt a little self-conscious. >> did you get involved in picking the gifts yourself? >> to give to them? >> uh-huh.
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>> oh sure, yes. >> do you remember a gift you gave somebody else that was fun? d to can't remembe keep within the limits. >> what's this big photograph over here. >> the big photograph. >> arrival of somebody -- >> did you go to those? >> yes. there i am. yes, i did. i weo >>id you enjoy those? >> yes, they were fun. yes. >> when you had a head of state visiting, did you do your own briefing to get up to speed on who they were? >> well, somebody would give me a briefing. but after the arrival ceremony, you bring -- the man would go with ronnie to the oval office and the woman would go with me upstairs and have some coffee.
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we'd sit and talk. it was interesting and it was wonderful fun. >> why did we hear so much about your relationship with mrs. gorbachev? i'm sure you remember those stories. >> yes, i do. yes, i do. i guess because when -- well, it was a big -- this was the first time that there had been a meeting between us and soviet union. but then when they got -- when we got over there and meetings started, the press didn't have anything -- they couldn't get into the meetings, couldn't talk to my husband or gorbachev. so they concentrated and reza and me, more than i thought was necessary, really. it wasn't really vital as to
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what i had on or what she had on. you know, there were very important decisions being made there. >> when you look back at these days when you were in that white house for eight years, what are the positive moments you remember? what kind of days were the most fun days for you? >> well, when you're in the white house, there's so many highs and lows. it's -- you really can't pick. the lowest day was when ronnie was shot. that's an easy one. it because there were so many highs, and there were so many lows. >> did you get tired? >> sure.


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