Fall/Winter 2010

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 70 of 73

SNAPSHOT BY VALERIE YAROS 100 year Celebation Ronald Reagan passed the Guild’s presidential gavel to Walter Pidgeon in 1952, unaware it would be his again seven years later. “M y job’s finished—it’s all yours, Pidge,” is perhaps what a beaming Ronald Reagan was thinking as he passed the Guild’s presidential gavel to his successor, Walter Pidgeon, in November of 1952. Te Guild’s first strike, over filmed TV commercials, was just weeks away, but it would be Pidgeon’s job to lead it. Reagan would remain on the board and the executive committee and was presented with a gold life membership card “in appreciation of his services to the Guild” at the annual meeting on November 9. Waiting back at home was a new baby daughter, Patti, almost 3 weeks old. In ’52 Reagan had been Guild president for more than five and a half years—from March of 1947 through November of ’52—and what years they were. He replaced MGM star Robert Montgomery as the Guild’s president; headed the 1947-48 theatrical negotiations; nearly died from acute viral pneumonia; testified as a “friendly witness” before the House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington, D.C.; was divorced by first wife Jane Wyman; helped develop the 1948 “stop-gap” contract clause on the issue of payment to actors for future release of theatrical films to TV; traveled to the White House to meet with President 68 SCREEN ACTOR - Fall/Winter 2010 Truman on aspects of runaway foreign production; broke his leg in a baseball game; contended with the jurisdictional dispute over television shot on film; led the first television film negotiations, resulting in the first TV contract; acted in more than a dozen feature films — and married the love of his life, actress and fellow board member Nancy Davis. But Reagan’s Guild “job” was in fact not finished. Seven years later, in 1959, the board would ask him to return to the Guild presidency to head perhaps the toughest challenge since the original 1937 contract: the 1960 theatrical negotiations. Te major producers dug in their heels, the Guild went out on strike and, six weeks later, had an agreement that included the first pension and health plan and payment of residuals on all motion pictures that commenced filming aſter January 31, 1960 (if and when they were released to television). Of course, there was far more in store for Reagan than he could have imagined in 1960, including the governorship of California and the presidency of the United States. Next year marks the centennial of his birth and, beginning February 6, a yearly “Ronald Reagan Day” in California. Information about the Ronald Reagan Centennial is available online at For centennial events in his home state of Illinois, go to

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of SAG-AFTRA - Fall/Winter 2010