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Photo of the Week, 40: “The Gipper” here in 1955

Ronald Reagan was no stranger to Bloomington-Normal, having attended Eureka College from 1928 until his graduation in 1932. As a member of the football team he competed in away games against both Illinois State Normal University and Illinois Wesleyan University.

The Hollywood B movie actor, conservative activist and future California governor (1967-1975) and U.S. president (1981-1989) returned to the Twin Cities for a three-day visit on October 19-21, 1955.

At this time he was serving as national spokesperson for General Electric and host of the corporate giant's weekly television program “General Electric Theater." As part of his duties the 44-year-old was visiting GE plants across the nation, including Bloomington's sprawling east side facility that manufactured electrical control devices. “Reagan was met by wide-eyed enthusiasm and sometimes girlish giggles," noted The Pantagraph. Seen here are plant employees Jeanne Brown (on Reagan's immediate left) and Jean Walden (immediate right).

Reagan returned to Bloomington-Normal on at least two other occasions: On January 20, 1961, he delivered a talk before the Association of Commerce's sixtieth annual banquet, and on October 18, 1980, he participated in ISU's Homecoming parade.

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History