General Electric has released a short film recalling the career of its former corporate spokesperson, Ronald Reagan. GE is the Presenting Sponsor of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration.
“Rendezvous with Destiny: Reagan’s Journey from GE to the White House” was released on the 46th anniversary of Reagan’s historic speech “A Time for Choosing.” The short film is a documentary chronicling Reagan’s rise from GE brand ambassador to the 40th President of the United States. It can be viewed here.
Narrated by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, the film will also be permanently featured in the new GE Wing of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library when it opens in February, 2011.
Combining rare archival images with personal recollections of those who worked alongside President Reagan and covered him in the media – from former Attorney General Ed Meese, Reagan speechwriter Ken Khachigian, and Mary Matalin to Tom Brokaw and Lou Cannon – the documentary illustrates how Reagan’s time at GE – as host of a weekly GE television series to a traveling spokesman visiting GE plants and workers all across the country – had a profound impact on his ideology, culminating in the 1964 speech that catapulted him to the national political stage.
“GE is proud of its long relationship with President Reagan and how he inspired our employees over the years. We’re grateful that such distinguished former advisors, biographers and journalists contributed the film. Reagan embodied GE’s optimistic and innovative spirit, and later successfully carried those qualities with him to the White House,” said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt.
In his memoirs, President Reagan wrote of his time at GE, “Looking back now, I realize it wasn’t a bad apprenticeship for someone who’d someday enter public life…the GE tours became almost a graduate course in political science.”
From 1954 through 1962, Ronald Reagan worked for GE as host of a weekly television series, “General Electric Theater” on CBS, and traveled as a GE spokesman to 139 GE plants meeting more than 250,000 employees. As part of each episode, Reagan highlighted the work of these employees by promoting the latest GE products that were transforming American homes with the era’s emerging technologies. Reagan punctuated each spot with GE’s tag line at the time: “Progress is Our Most Important Product.”
GE’s participation as Presenting Sponsor of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration includes:
$10 Million in the form of cash, advertising and promotion to support the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration, including funds to support the completely transformed, state-of-the-art Museum at the Reagan Library that will be unveiled on February 5, 2011. This will include a new General Electric Theater that will focus on Reagan’s career in radio, television, and film.
An additional $5 million to the Reagan Presidential Foundation to launch and support the GE-Reagan Scholars Program, an effort that will begin in 2011 and that will provide 200 four-year college scholarships over the next decade to deserving students who embody the vision and values personified by President Reagan.
A donation from GE/NBC Universal to the Reagan Foundation of 208 restored episodes of General Electric Theater in which Ronald Reagan hosted or appeared from 1954-1962. The episodes, many of which were thought to be lost and some of which were damaged, were recently uncovered and restored to broadcast quality for purposes of the renovated Reagan Museum.
An ad campaign and interactive Internet presence located at http://www.ge.com/reagan/ to promote the Centennial and honor President Reagan’s service to our nation and time with GE. TV, radio and print advertisements in support of the Centennial that will remind audiences of Reagan’s optimistic spirit as well as his legacy at both GE and as President can be found on this site.
A series of public affairs lectures with Reagan-era luminaries that will focus on President Reagan’s legacy and qualities as a leader. The events will take place at venues around the country with details to be announced in the coming months.