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Surprising lessons Ronald Reagan learned as a lifeguard on the Rock River

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Before I accepted the part of a young Ronald "Dutch" Reagan in the motion picture "Reagan," I didn’t know a whole lot about 40th president. After all, I was born the same year he finished his second term. However, I did begin to learn about how much of an iconic figure Reagan was as soon as I told my grandmother the news. "My baby, Ronald Reagan was so handsome," it was the first time I saw my Nonna fawn, hah.

Then, I began to learn more about how much Reagan was really loved. When I would tell people about getting cast as a young Reagan, the conversation would immediately shift away from me, as folks would offer up a personal story of how Reagan touched their lives, and I found that incredibly endearing … it also made me realize how much pressure I was about to be under playing such a beloved figure.

My role spans from the time period of his lifeguard days to when he was starting out as an actor. During his sophomore year in high school and for the next seven summers in Dixon, Illinois, Reagan was a lifeguard at Lowell Park’s swimming section of the Rock River. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, he worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week.


As the story goes, he saved 77 lives during his time at Lowell Park. Reagan kept track of those rescues by cutting a notch

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