- (1911–2004), 40th president of the US 1981–89; full name Ronald Wilson Reagan. He was a movie actor before entering politics and then served as the governor of California 1967–74. A conservative Republican, his administration greatly increased defense spending, cut taxes and social services budgets, and saw a record rise in the national budget deficit. He signed an intermediate nuclear forces nonproliferation treaty in 1987. His reputation was tarnished by his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair.