Time Capsule: Acting Lessons
Learn what Ronald Reagan taught his daughter about life and the American dream.

To understand Ronald Reagan, you have to understand the small town he came from—the ordinariness of it planted in the sturdy, flat terrain of the Midwest, where the seasons are important, and kids dream beyond the loneliness, beyond all those endless miles, to the cities where dreams are supposed to come true. Movies provided the stories, the hopes—you could go to Hollywood and make it. I asked my mother recently how my father could have come through the Hollywood system, with all its cutthroat ways, and the political system, which is even worse, with his innocence intact. He never really participated in the Hollywood lifestyle, she told me. He didn't go out with his fellow actors after a day of shooting, didn't hang out, have a few drinks. He did his work and left. He kept his dreams alive, and his innocence, by never giving too much away, by holding enough of himself in reserve so that no one could tarnish what he held dear.