Hollywood and the stars helped bring Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis together -- the alignment of the stars, that is. According to Bob Colacello's Ronnie & Nancy: Their Path to the White House -- 1911 to 1980, the couple's attendance at astrologist Carroll Righter's "sign-of-the-month" parties in the late 1940s was a bonding experience for them. Contemplating marriage, they sought and received Righter's blessing. At the time, a blessing of any kind was probably welcome: Though Reagan was president of the Screen Actors Guild, he was getting B-level roles in pictures; MGM failed to renew Davis's contract because, in Colacello's words, her film performances were "solid but un-charismatic." Davis gave up acting, devoted herself to Reagan's career in all its permutations, and as a team they began to make their steady climb to the White House.

As one might expect from Colacello, who knew the Reagans well and whose connections with the rich and famous are multifarious, the book is larded with celebrity tidbits. Character actress ZaSu Pitts made a career of playing fluttery dolts, but in real life she got it together sufficiently to impress Reagan with a speech lambasting Sen. Helen Gahagan Douglas for her liberal politics. According to daughter Patti Davis, Reagan's relationship with fellow actor Robert Taylor, another voluble anti-communist, "was the only time I observed my father being close friends with another man." And Nancy Davis had no qualms about talking policy: "In contrast to [Reagan's first wife] Jane Wyman, who would roll her eyes and let out audible sighs of boredom when the conversation turned political, Nancy actively particpated in . . . dinner-table conversations and even cultivated friendships with politically minded people. . . ."

-- Dennis Drabelle

Ronald Reagan weds

Nancy Davis in 1952