Dynasty to Fantasy Island: An Eighties TV Star Galaxy at Ronald Reagan’s White House

Miami Vice (1984-1989) co-stars Don Johnson (far left) and Philip Michael Thomas, at a state dinner for the Danish Prime Minister, September 10, 1985.

Sometimes looking at just what famous faces came to meet a President can suggest the man in the White House as being one who knows what’s up with the people outside the gates of what Harry Truman called, ‘the great white prison.  At the least, a glimpse of what celebrities (once known as “the celebrated”) came to the White House as the guest of a President and First Lady can serve as a snapshot of Pop Culture of a particular era, a veritable time capsule of those authors the public were reading, the journalists and dramatists they were listening to on the radio, or the stars and celebrities they were watching on television. By this standard, few Presidents better succeeded than did Ronald Reagan in those Acquisitive Eighties.

Judging by the wide range of Television Sitcom and Dramatic Series actors and actresses that he and First Lady Nancy Reagan, (themselves former feature film and TV stars), invited to glittery state dinners and other events during their White House years from 1981 to 1989, they seemed to have a finger on the nation’s pulse – or at least its T.V. dial.

It’s A Living (1980-1982, 1985-1989) and Jennifer Slept Here (1983-1984) Ann Jillilan receives American Cancer Society’s Courage Award in the Oval Office, March 20, 1986.

Knot’s Land (1979-1993) star Michelle Lee and husband Fred Rappaport at state dinner for Venezuelan president, December 4, 1984.

Fantasy Island (1978-1984) star Ricardo Montalban and his wife, Beverly Hills party, August 19, 1981.

The Facts of Life (1980-1988) star Nancy McKeon and Family Ties (1982-1989) star Michael J. Fox, at state dinner for Singapore President, October 8, 1985.

Charlie’s Angels (in seasons from 1977-1981) star Cheryl Ladd and husband at state dinner for Algerian president, April 17, 1985.

Dallas (1978-1987) star Victoria Principal during Juvenile Arthritis event, May 29, 1986.

Growing Pains (1985-1992) star Kirk Cameron and Webster (1983-1989) starr Emmanuel Lewis (with Phyllis Diller and Lucille Ball in the middle), at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, May 10, 1987.

Dynasty (1981-1989) star Joan Collins at state dinner for Venezuelan president, December 4, 1984.

 Reagan’s birthday celebrated at the NBC-TV studio lot, in Hollywood with actors Emmauel Lewis, Charlton Heston, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Edie Gormie, Steve Lawrence and others.

And though she had long been off the boob-tube by the time Reagan was President, a certain lady who lived in a bottle surely deserves an after-thought of honorable mention…..

I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970) Barbara Eden, for state visit of Japanese Prime Minister, April 30, 1987.

Categories: First Ladies, History, Hollywood, Pop Culture, Presidents, Ronald Reagan, Television, The Reagans

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6 replies »

  1. Ethel Barrymore was a guest at the White House in 1924 .Calvin Coolidge had not long been president following the death of President Warren Harding. (You will recall that Winston Churchill proposed marriage to Miss Barrymore but she declined.)
    Anyway, she asked Coolidge what kind of president he was planning to be?
    He replied: “The people of America want a solemn ass for president and I do not plan to disappoint them.”
    Later, the Coolidge family saw Ethel’s brother John Barrymore in Shakespeare’s tragedy – “Hamlet”. Barrymore asked if the president had seen other productions of the play? Coolidge had; he’d seen A. E. Southern in the role.
    Barrymore asked: “Which did you like best?”
    Revealing great diplomacy “Silent Cal” said: “His clothes were prettier.”

  2. Very nice story Carl! Love your blog page face lift, much easier to read with softer background!
    Keep up the great work!


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