Author(s): Darwin Porter
Most of the world remembers Ronald Reagan and Nancy (Davis) Reagan as geriatric figures in the White House in the 1980s. And it remembers Jane Wyman as the fierce empress, Angela Channing, in the decade's hit TV series, Falcon Crest. But long before that, two young wannabee stars, Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman, had arrived as untested hopefuls in Hollywood. Each of them separately stormed Warner Brothers, looking for movie stardom and love-and finding both beyond their wildest dreams. They were followed, in time, by Nancy Davis, who began her career posing for cheesecake in a failed attempt by the studio to turn her into a sex symbol. In their memoirs, Ronald and Nancy (Jane didn't write one) paid scant attention to their "wild and wonderful years" in Hollywood. To provide that missing link in their lives, Blood Moon's Love Triangle explores in depth the trio's passions, fury, betrayal, loves won and lost, and the conflicts and rivalries they generated. A liberal New Deal Democrat, Reagan quickly became a handsome leading man in "B" pictures and a "babe magnet," as studio mogul Jack Warner defined him, "a swordsman like our resident Don Juan, Errol Flynn." Reagan himself admitted he developed "Leading Lady-itis" even for stars he didn't appear with. He launched a bevy of affairs with such glamorous icons as Lana Turner, Betty Grable and Susan Hayward, even a "too young Elizabeth Taylor." He eventually married Jane, but he was not faithful to her, enjoying back alley affairs with the likes of "The Oomph Girl," Ann Sheridan. Jane, too, had her affairs on the side, notably with Lew Ayres (Ginger Rogers' ex) while filming her Oscar-winning Johnny Belinda. After dumping Reagan, Jane launched a series of affairs herself, battling Joan Crawford (for Hollywood's most studly and newsworthy attorney, Greg Bautzer), and Marilyn Monroe (for bandleader Fred Karger, divorcing him, marrying him again, and finally divorcing him for good.) Reagan's oldest son, Michael (adopted), later said, "If Nancy knew that one day she would be First Lady, she would have cleaned up her act." He was referring to her notorious days as a starlet in the late 1940s and early 50s, when the grapevine had it that: "her phone number was passed around a lot." The list of her intimate involvements is long, including Clark Gable, whom she wanted to marry; Spencer Tracy; Yul Brynner; Frank Sinatra; Marlon Brando; Milton Berle; Peter Lawford; Robert Walker; et al. Love Triangle, a proud and presidential addition to Blood Moon's Babylon series, digs deep into what these three young movie stars were up to decades before two of them took over the Free World.
A long-time Entertainment columnist with The Miami Herald, Darwin Porter has been following the scandals associated with Ronald Reagan's careers, both in California and in Washington, for decades. He was assisted in this description of the drama-soaked love triangle by Danforth Prince, veteran co-author of many titles within Blood Moon's award-winning BABYLON series.