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Tags: Pat | Boone | Reflects | Reagan | and | Hollywood

Pat Boone Reflects on Reagan and Hollywood

Monday, 14 June 2004 12:00 AM EDT

Born Charles Eugene Boone on June 1, 1934, in Jacksonville, Fla., the great-great-great-great-grandson of Daniel Boone, the legendary Kentucky explorer and frontiersman, is known for his white buck shoes, mild-mannered demeanor and devotion to Christianity.

In a day when entertainment has reached new lows — prompting record fines from federal agencies and threats of new stricter legislation from Congress — Boone is still as much a breath of fresh air as he was when he burst onto the entertainment scene more than four decades ago.

In an exclusive interview with NewsMax.com, Boone also discussed his personal friendship with late President Ronald Reagan, today's declining entertainment standards, and his views of the political scene in America.

Boone said he first met Ronald and Nancy Reagan after the nation's future president had already experienced his moviemaking heyday, though Boone said at the time he was a very hot item on the music and movie scene.

In his early 20s with four daughters, Boone and his wife, Shirley, said they met the Reagans at the John Thomas Dye School in Bel Air, Calif., a private K-8 primary school founded in 1929 by Cathryn and John Dye (the school is named after John Thomas Dye III, who was killed in action during World War II).

"We'd go to all the school functions, and there would be an actor friend Ron and Nancy Reagan with their two kids ... who were the same ages as our younger two" daughters, he said. "They had to be in their mid-40s" at the time, he added.

Boone said he and his wife would often stand around after the school functions and visit with the Reagans, "drinking cinnamon tea in front of a big, roaring fireplace in the main building, discussing politics."

By then Boone not only had begun performing himself, but also, as he says, "I was at that time a lot hotter than he was, because I had a weekly television show on ABC, I was into making movies ... and had hit records."

Still, he says, he had "great respect" for Ronald Reagan.

"I remember after the school sessions driving home on many occasions and telling Shirley: 'Boy, it's a shame that guy Ron Reagan doesn't run for office. I like what he says, I like the way he says it,'" Boone told NewsMax. "I remember saying, 'He should run for Congress!'"

Then he laughed. "Later, when he ran for governor, I was one of the first in the entertainment community" to sign on to help his actor-friend, Boone said.

The pop star said few in the entertainment industry thought Reagan was a serious candidate, and even fewer wanted to help. But in the end, he won, and made his first foray into politics, major step as it was.

"I was in his corner right from the start," he said. After he became governor, Reagan "asked me to introduce him at a number of affairs, which I did," said Boone.

For his gubernatorial re-election effort, Reagan had a lot more help from his entertainment friends. Joining Boone were actors and entertainers John Wayne, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. "Everybody now loved him after he had proven what he could do as governor," Boone said. "He'd taken some very strong stands."

Boone said Reagan told him at a re-election fund-raiser that he enjoyed being in politics but it was hard on his moral conscience.

"He said to me, 'I wonder if it's possible for a man to keep his principles in high elected office because so many people help you get elected and they want something in return,'" Boone recalled. "He said, 'I cannot give some of the things these people want.'"

As Reagan neared his second term as governor, the issue of abortion was becoming more heated. He told Boone he and Nancy had not thought much about it during the first campaign because it hadn't yet shown up on the political radar.

"Ron told me he had to just pray about the issue," Boone said. "He said people were wanting him to take a stand as governor."

Reagan told Boone he didn't believe in abortion because "he thought of it as ending a life just to solve another problem" — an unwanted pregnancy.

Still, Reagan sympathized with the women who were in danger of losing their lives over pregnancy, as well as the few who were impregnated because of rape or incest.

Boone described Reagan's thoughts this way: "He said: 'After spending a lot of time praying about it, I came to my office ready to make my statement about my stand and convictions on abortion. My legal secretary ... knew the stand I was going to take, which was I'm opposed to abortion in every case except rape, incest and when the mother's life is very seriously and obviously threatened. Otherwise, I think abortion on demand should not be approved.'"

Another issue in the abortion debate was whether or not it was proper to end the life of a baby that was obviously deformed. Reagan, Boone said, did not favor abortion in that instance, but before he made a statement in opposition, his legal secretary took him aside to show him a painting Reagan had been sent.

"It was a painting done by a man who was born without arms," Boone said. "Ron told me when he saw that painting, he felt pressure on his shoulder and he said he knew it was the hand of God telling him he'd done the right thing."

Later, as president, Reagan wrote his book "Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation," which spelled out his opposition to the procedure and was published despite opposition from some in his administration who felt the book would be used against him politically.

He beat Democratic nominee Walter Mondale by the largest margin in presidential election history.

The book and Reagan's perseverance in the face of political opposition, Boone explained, "triggered in me a song I wrote called 'Let Me Live: The Anthem of the Unborn Child.'"

In Reagan's book, said Boone, "he made the statement that it's a shame the one whose life is most irrevocably affected on this issue can't be heard from, and that really echoed in me. I said there must be a way, at least symbolically, for the unborn child to plead its own cause, and out of that came this song, which I recorded with a number of children."

Boone said after that he held a number of babies whose mothers had, because of the song, changed their minds about having an abortion, deciding instead to let their children be born.

The 1950s pop idol went on to tell NewsMax.com of a little-known but remarkable story involving then-Gov. Reagan and his presidential future: tThat it was the result of divine providence.

Boone said he and his wife were invited to the governor's mansion by Ronald and Nancy Reagan following an evangelistic meeting Boone and his wife had attended earlier in the day in Sacramento.

It was late afternoon, he said, and the Reagans treated their guests — which included the Boones and a handful of ministers — to some cold drinks and other refreshments.

One, George Otis, asked Reagan if he and the others could pray for the California governor, a request Reagan readily granted. "We joined in a little circle, with Otis on one side and me on the other," Boone said. "I've prayed with him before; I call him 'The Electric Man' because there's something that happens when he's praying. His hand just vibrates. He is deeply spiritual."

Otis had Reagan's hand when he "suddenly broke in and began to speak prophetically," Boone recalled. "He uttered, 'My son, I am pleased with you. ... If you continue to walk upright before me, you will live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

"We were all stunned," Boone said. "We quickly said, 'Amen,' and when we looked up at Ron, he was glassy-eyed. It did seem to all of us that George was not simply speaking from own consciousness but that he was actually delivering a prophetic word. It was so specific."

Some years later, the prophecy came true; Reagan defeated incumbent president Jimmy Carter. On that night, Boone said, he called the newly elected president to congratulate him and ask if he remembered Otis' words. "'Of course I do,'" Boone recalled Reagan saying.

Boone said he was "infuriated" by some of the major media's distortions about Reagan — his personal life, his political accomplishments and especially his Christian beliefs.

"The same critics would have disapproved of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Quincy Adams, James Monroe and Abraham Lincoln," Boone said. "In other words, they would have thrown out all those presidents for the same reasons, that every one of those men ... called on God" to help guide them.

He said the First Amendment is particular "is being perverted to mean something it doesn't mean" – specifically, that it supposedly bans all reference to God and religion in the public forum.

"The supposed 'separation of church and state' is not in the Constitution," Boone said, noting that the phrase came from a letter Jefferson wrote to a Baptist group in the early 1800s to assure them the government would not force them to give up their religion.

"These leftists think [the amendment] says 'Congress shall make no law establishing religion.' That is not what it says. It says Congress shall make no law respecting, or about, or concerning the establishment of religion," Boone said. "In other words, Congress won't make any laws pro or con concerning the establishment, or leading to, religion."

"To make it more clear, it goes on to say Congress can't restrict the free exercise of religion, though all the judgments being made now are restricting the free exercise of the vast majority of Americans to express their faith however they choose," he said. The rulings instead "favor a tiny little group of dissidents who don't like any mention of God and don't think there should be any mention of God" in any public venue.

Asked if he believed entertainers today were more anti-American, Boone answered with a resounding "Yes!"

"I feel like a salmon swimming upstream," he said. "I've been trying to turn the tide."

For example, he said that he and Reagan, as well as other stars, had attended anti-communism rallies in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Most stars today seem to support the leftist, anti-American stances often espoused by yesterday's communists, even going so far as to criticize the U.S. from abroad, Boone said.

Nowhere are these sentiments more prevalent than on America's college campuses. Boone said even 40 years ago, the sentiment had begun to spread to colleges and universities, at the peak of the Cold War with the communist Soviet Union.

"There was this phrase, 'Better Red than dead,'" Boone told NewsMax.com. "The idea was 'Let's not get into a fight about this. Even if we become a communist United States, that's better than going to war, isn't it?'"

He said that pacifist anti-war sentiment taught the belief "where anything is better than standing up for our rights." He said he often spoke out against the atheism of communism, and, in a phrase that disturbed his wife, Shirley, Boone said he once told a crowd during a speech, "I'd rather be blown into Heaven in an atomic blast than taught into hell under a communist United States."

Boone said Shirley "thought I was inviting that somehow, but I told her, 'No, but when you say something like that, you hope you can get people's backbone up to where they want to defend themselves.'"

Boone, who just turned 70, has also been a champion of restrictions on movie, song and other artistic content. He was in Washington, D.C., in April as national spokesman for the 60-Plus Association, a conservative senior citizen lobby group, stumping for what he believes is a little necessary censorship.

"I don't think censorship is a bad word, but it has become a bad word because everybody associates it with some kind of restriction on liberty," Boone told the Washington Times. "But we do know that at some point a line has to be drawn between one man's liberty and another man's license."

He says if he were in charge of broadcast standards, they would be much more stringent. "[They] must be majority approved ... voluntary ... and self-imposed," he told the Times.

In his interview with NewsMax.com, Boone said many of Hollywood's older stars — Reagan, the late John Wayne, Glenn Ford, Clint Eastwood — were more respectful of their country and much more appreciative of their success.

He said in those days, Americans believed they were at least on the right course, even if they didn't always agree with U.S. leaders. And he said entertainers and the media would never savage candidates the way they do today.

"The idea that the Dixie Chicks could go over to another country and tell an audience they were ashamed the president was from their home state of Texas — especially a place like England, an ally," was unheard of, Boone said.

"I remember telling people, 'I can't wait to introduce the Dixie Chicks to Colonel Sanders," he quipped.

"Now here comes Michael Moore, calling himself a documentarian, which he is not," Boone said. "He's a propagandist, and an overt bad one at that."

He said the media and entertainment elite are "fawning" over Moore "because they think he'll skewer our president." But he criticized Moore for releasing the film he says is full of "biased lies" especially during a time of war, when Bush is trying to lead the country to victory against terrorism.

Boone compared Moore's attacks to those of the Washington, D.C.-area snipers.

"[Moore] is over in Cannes [France] taking shots at the president and lobbing bombs at him from the local theater as well," he said. "To lob this kind of criticism – it's like biological warfare in the media. Talk about your weapons of mass destruction."


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Born Charles Eugene Boone on June 1, 1934, in Jacksonville, Fla., the great-great-great-great-grandson of Daniel Boone, the legendary Kentucky explorer and frontiersman, is known for his white buck shoes, mild-mannered demeanor and devotion to Christianity. In a day...
Monday, 14 June 2004 12:00 AM
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