Thank you, Jeff [Grappone, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Emcee].
It’s great to be back in the Frances Perkins Building, and to see so many old friends and colleagues: Attorney General Ed Meese, Secretary Bill Brock, former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, as well as SBA [Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City] President Ed Mullins. And many thanks to Secretary Acosta for inviting me to participate in this ceremony.
More than three decades before he was elected President of the United States, Ronald Reagan was elected President of the Screen Actors Guild and proved he had what it takes to make a difference. He served seven terms as SAG President, becoming one of the most consequential union leaders in the television and motion picture industries.
Ronald Reagan was way ahead of his time in recognizing the commercial potential of television, and the need for a fair system to compensate performers for re-runs and movies shown on television. Despite fierce opposition from the major studios, Ronald Reagan brought Universal Pictures to the bargaining table and secured for SAG members the first-ever residual payment rights for filmed television and films shown on television. The rest of the studios soon followed.
In spearheading the negotiations, Reagan was well aware that not every actor in Hollywood earns millions. He looked out for the little guy by enlarging the compensation pool to help ensure that more performers could earn a living and stay in the profession they loved. The residual payment system he negotiated continues to this day in revised form, and remains an important source of income for actors.
Reagan was also instrumental in creating the first-ever health and pension plan for SAG members—an important safety net in an industry known for its lack of employment security. For these and his other seminal achievements on behalf of our country, I am pleased to join with the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City– which nominated President Reagan– and my friends and colleagues in honoring the legacy of Ronald Wilson Reagan as President of the Screen Actors Guild.