Monday, June 11, 2007

Ronald Reagan in Cardiff

You're probably wondering what Ronald Reagan was doing in Cardiff in 1948. OK - here's the scoop.

Reagan was over in Britain shooting a new film The Hasty Heart (1949) directed by Vincent Sherman. Along with co-star Patricia Neal he turned up at the Odeon Theatre on Queen Street, Cardiff, to promote the picture and attend a cinema ball.

The above photo shows the head usherette at the Odeon presenting a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champers to Ms Neal. The man in the dickie bow is the cinema manager Mr Ian B Craig from the Heath area of Cardiff.

1948 was a significant year for Reagan - he got divorced for starters. Until then he and Jane Wyman had been regarded as Hollywood's perfect couple but she had finally gotten fed up with his increasing obsession with politics.

During this period Reagan was President of the Screen Actors Guild, the union that represented Hollywood thesps. In 1947 he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee on suspected communist influence in the motion picture industry. He claimed that the Screen Actors Guild was being infiltrated by communists.

Given his reds-under-the-bed paranoia it's probably just as well the cinema ball wasn't being held in the Rhondda Valley.

One interesting aside - five years after her visit to Cardiff American actress Patricia Neal would marry one of the city's most famous sons - Roald Dahl.