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Pete Souza

19 Photos of Ronald Reagan With Various Celebrities

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Pete Souza

It seems like a good time to bring up one of my favorite websites, the Reagan Presidential Library—specifically the MEETING WITH V.I.P.s and CELEBRITIES section of the library's historical photo archives. It's a who's who of the 1980s, with shots of The Gipper and First Lady alongside everyone from Michael Jackson to Roger Clemens, Brooke Shields to Brigitte Nielsen, and Dudley from Diff'rent Strokes to Mr. T. Here are some of the highlights:

The '86 Giants

Harry Carson dumping Gatorade (popcorn) on President Reagan with Nancy Reagan watching at the Diplomatic entrance. President Reagan met the New York Giants football team after Super Bowl XXI victory. 2/13/87.

Frank Sinatra

President Reagan cutting in on Nancy Reagan and Frank Sinatra dancing at the President's birthday party in the East Room. 2/6/81.

The King of Pop

After lending his hit song "Beat It" to a campaign against drunk driving, Michael Jackson was rewarded with a Presidential Special Achievement Award by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. 5/14/84. © Bettmann/CORBIS

Mike Seaver, Phyllis Diller, Lucy and Webster

President Reagan attending the Bob Hope Salute to the United States Air Force 40th Anniversary celebration with Kirk Cameron, Phyllis Diller, Lucille Ball and Emmanuel Lewis at Pope Air Force base in Fayetteville, North Carolina. 5/10/87.

Muhammad Ali

President Reagan "punching" Muhammad Ali in the oval office. 1/24/83.

The Cast of Diff'rent Strokes

Nancy Reagan on the set of television show "Diff'rent Strokes" with Conrad Bain, Todd Bridges, Dana Plato, and Mary Jo Cattlett. 3/9/83.

San-T Claus

Mr. T, of the television show "The A-Team," poses as Santa Claus to help First Lady Nancy Reagan unveil the White House Christmas decorations. 12/12/83. © Bettmann/CORBIS

Superman and Frank Gifford

President Reagan talking with Christopher Reeve and Frank Gifford during a reception and picnic in honor of the 15th Anniversary of the Special Olympics program in the Diplomatic Reception room. 6/12/83.

Patrick Ewing

President Reagan looking up at Georgetown basketball player Patrick Ewing, with Senator Robert Dole looking on, in the oval office. 8/13/82.

Sly Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen

President and Nancy Reagan posing with Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen during a state dinner for Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. 10/8/85.

The Great One

President Reagan greeting Hockey player Wayne Gretzky at a Luncheon for National Hockey League All Stars. 2/8/82.

Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs and Brooke Shields

President Reagan and Nancy Reagan posing for photo with Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs and Brooke Shields at a Tribute to Bob Hope's 80th birthday at the Kennedy Center. 5/20/83.

The Future Fellow-Governor of California

President Reagan having a photo taken with Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. 8/23/84.

Cal Ripken

President Reagan talking with Cal Ripken Jr. in the Baltimore Orioles dugout at Baltimore Memorial stadium, Maryland. 6/24/86.

Roger Clemens and Don Baylor

President Reagan posing with Roger Clemens and Don Baylor of the Boston Red Sox baseball team in the Roosevelt room. 9/10/86.

Jimmy Johnson

President Reagan hosting the NCAA football champion University of Miami Hurricanes in the White House East Room (Coach Jimmy Johnson is at left). 1/29/88.

John Travolta and Princess Diana

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in the entrance hall at the White House. 11/9/85.

Mary Lou Retton

President Reagan posing with Mary Lou Retton and the 1984 U.S. Olympic team at the Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, California. 8/13/84.

Harry Caray

President Reagan in the press box with Harry Caray during a Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. 9/30/88.

If you grew up in or are particularly fond of the '80s, check out the Reagan Library's archives for more great photos, featuring Tom Selleck, Tom Cruise, Cher, Rock Hudson, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Stern, Ricardo Montalban and Rodney Dangerfield. You can order some poster-size prints.

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Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images
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8 Surprising Facts About the Presidential Yacht
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Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images

If you consider a boat to be a suboptimal way of ferrying the President of the United States, you’re not alone. No sitting president has used one for official travel purposes since 1977, when the USS Sequoia was decommissioned. But for a good chunk of the 20th century, the POTUS was able to jump on a yacht and set sail for both recreational and government business, getting a change of scenery without having to hop on a plane. Take a look at a few things you might not have known about this unique—and extinct—political retreat.

1. THE SEQUOIA WASN’T THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL YACHT.

The idea of toting presidents in a floating White House for social engagements dates back to 1893, when the USS Dolphin flew the presidential flag for Grover Cleveland and William McKinley. In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt anointed the USS Mayflower, a luxury steam yacht, that was occupied by three successive presidents until it was decommissioned in 1929. Two other ships were in service before the Sequoia was selected in 1933.

2. IT WAS ORIGINALLY A DECOY SHIP DURING PROHIBITION.

The Sequoia wasn’t custom-built for presidential purposes. Constructed in 1925, the 104-foot-long vessel was originally owned by a Texas oilman and purchased by the U.S. government in 1931. It was used as a decoy ship to intercede rum runners during Prohibition before being rehomed with the U.S. Navy. Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt enjoyed fishing off the ship—in Hoover’s case, so much so that he put a picture of it on the White House’s official 1932 Christmas card. Hoover soon declared it the official presidential yacht in 1933.

3. EACH PRESIDENT CUSTOMIZED IT.

The Sequoia underwent several minor facelifts as each new sitting president decided they wanted a custom yacht experience. Lyndon B. Johnson was so tall that he had to have the shower on board extended so he could bathe comfortably; John F. Kennedy had a king-sized bed installed. An elevator was added to make it wheelchair-accessible for Franklin Roosevelt; Johnson later ripped out the lift and used the space for a wet bar.

4. NIXON LOVED THE BOAT.

Of all the presidents to board the Sequoia, Richard Nixon did so with the greatest frequency and zeal. He reportedly stepped on the ship at least 88 times, sailing to Mount Vernon and insisting staff salute Washington’s tomb. Later, when Watergate began to consume most of his final days in office, he insisted an anti-bug electronic shield be installed in case the ship was being tapped for sound. Nixon also made the decision to resign while on board, mournfully playing “God Bless America” on the piano that Truman had installed.

5. JFK HAD HIS LAST BIRTHDAY PARTY THERE.

On what turned out to be his last birthday, John F. Kennedy devoted the night of May 29, 1963 to a celebration on the Sequoia. Just 24 guests were invited, and only three Secret Service members were on board—the rest populated security boats trailing behind.

6. ELVIS BOUGHT ONE.

For Franklin D. Roosevelt, the USS Potomac was his ship of choice: The 165-foot-long ship was big enough to accommodate more Secret Service staff and was in use from 1936 to 1945. After passing through other hands, Elvis Presley decided he wanted to make sure the ship was preserved and bought it at auction in 1964 for $55,000. The King immediately donated it to Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, where it continued to change hands until being designated a National Historical Landmark in 1987.

7. JIMMY CARTER SOLD IT OFF.

By 1977, the Sequoia had been in service for over four decades, and the cost to maintain it was significant: $800,000 a year. Because Jimmy Carter had made campaign promises to cut extraneous expenses, he had little choice but to trim the fat by decommissioning the yacht. The Sequoia was sold off for $236,000. In 1999, a collector of presidential memorabilia bought it for nearly $2 million and began renting it out to visitors for $10,000.

8. IT BECAME FULL OF RACCOON POOP.

Once the Sequoia entered the private sector, its seaworthiness became a very costly pursuit. In 2016, a judge ruled that FE Partners, which restores historic ships, could have the vessel free of charge after it was declared to be rotting and infested with raccoons while idling in a Virginia shipyard: The animals reportedly pooped on presidential carpets. The group hopes to restore the Sequoia and have it back on the water sometime in the next few years.

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Courtesy Sotheby's
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You Can Buy the Oldest Surviving Photo of a U.S. President
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Courtesy Sotheby's

The descendent of a 19th-century U.S. Congressman has discovered a previously unknown presidential portrait that is likely the oldest surviving photograph of a U.S. president, The New York Times reports.

Previously, two 1843 portraits of John Quincy Adams were thought to be the oldest photographs of a president still around. Currently hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, one of them was found on sale at an antique shop in 1970 for a mere 50 cents. Now, an even older photo of the sixth president has been uncovered, and it’ll cost you more than 50 cents to buy it.

Adams sat for dozens of photographs throughout his life, so it’s not entirely surprising that a few more surviving portraits would be uncovered. At the time this newly discovered half-plate daguerreotype was taken in March 1843, Adams had already served out his term as president and had returned to Congress as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts. The photo was taken by Philip Haas, who in August of that same year would take other daguerreotypes that we previously thought were the oldest surviving photos. (Despite his apparent willingness to be photographed, Adams called them “all hideous.”)

John Quincy Adams sits in a portrait studio in 1843.
Courtesy Sotheby's

After having three daguerreotypes taken that day in March, Adams gave one of them to his friend and fellow Congressman Horace Everett, inscribing it with both their names. Everett’s great-great-grandson eventually found it in his family’s belongings and is now putting it up for sale through Sotheby’s.

It isn't the oldest picture of a U.S. president ever taken, though. The first-ever was actually a portrait of William Henry Harrison made in 1841, but unlike this one, the original has not survived. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns a copy of it, which was made in 1850.)

The head of the Sotheby’s department for photographs, Emily Bierman, told The New York Times that the newly discovered image is “without a doubt the most important historical photo portrait to be offered at auction in the last 20 years.” (She also noted that the former POTUS is wearing “cute socks” in it.)

The daguerreotype will be on sale as part of a photography auction at Sotheby’s in October and is expected to sell for an estimated $150,000 to $250,000. Start saving.

[h/t The New York Times]

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