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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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Brown University Library, Wikipedia/Public Domain
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This Just In
Lincoln’s Famous Letter of Condolence to a Grieving Mother Was Likely Penned by His Secretary
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Brown University Library, Wikipedia/Public Domain

Despite his lack of formal schooling, Abraham Lincoln was a famously eloquent writer. One of his most renowned compositions is the so-called “Bixby letter,” a short yet poignant missive the president sent a widow in Boston who was believed to have lost five sons during the Civil War. But as Newsweek reports, new research published in the journal Digital Scholarship in the Humanities [PDF] suggests that Lincoln’s private secretary and assistant, John Hay, actually composed the dispatch.

The letter to Lydia Bixby was written in November 1864 at the request of William Shouler, the adjutant general of Massachusetts, and state governor John Albion Andrew. “I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming,” it read. “But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.”

Unknown to Lincoln, Bixby had actually only lost two sons in battle; the others had deserted the army, were honorably discharged, or died a prisoner of war. Nevertheless, word of the compassionate presidential gesture spread when the Boston Evening Transcript reprinted a copy of the 139-word letter for all to read.

Nobody quite knows what happened to Bixby’s original letter—some say she was a Confederate sympathizer and immediately burnt it—but for years, scholars debated whether Hay was its true author.

During Hay’s lifetime, the former secretary-turned-statesman had reportedly told several people in confidence that he—not Lincoln—had written the renowned composition, TIME reports. The rumor spread after Hay's death, but some experts interpreted the admission to mean that Hay had transcribed the letter, or had copied it from a draft.

To answer the question once and for all, a team of forensic linguists in England used a text analysis technique called n-gram tracing, which identifies the frequency of linguistic sequences in a short piece of writing to determine its true author. They tested 500 texts by Hay and 500 by Lincoln before analyzing the Bixby letter, the researchers explained in a statement quoted by Newsweek.

“Nearly 90 percent of the time, the method identified Hay as the author of the letter, with the analysis being inconclusive in the rest of the cases,” the linguists concluded.

According to Atlas Obscura, the team plans to present its findings at the International Corpus Linguistics Conference, which will take place at England’s University of Birmingham from Monday, July 24 to Friday, July 28.

[h/t Newsweek]

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founding fathers
Inside the Quest to Save 42 Giant Presidential Statues
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Gary Knapp // Getty Images

In 2004, Presidents Park opened in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was a huge open-air museum containing 42 two-story-high busts of the presidents to date at the time. Visitors could perambulate among the presidents, reading plaques about them. (Note: There are only 42 busts in total because of Grover Cleveland's two nonconsecutive terms.)

In 2013, local builder Howard Hankins was hired to remove and destroy the busts, after the attraction itself went bust. Hankins had another idea. He carefully transported all the busts to his family farm. This cleared the way for an Enterprise Rent-a-Car facility now located on the former grounds of Presidents Park. It also left him with 43 giant statues, many of them slightly damaged, to deal with.

Over the ensuing years, Hankins has walked among the busts, weeding the grounds and struggling to figure out what to do with these "giants of men." He loosely envisions a similar attraction, this time called The Presidential Experience. Ideally it would have a better location to attract tourists. But Hankins lacks the funding to make it a reality. Since the original haul, he has managed to secure a tiny template for an Obama bust, but couldn't afford to purchase the full-size version. No word yet on a Trump bust.

In the short film All the Presidents' Heads directed by Adam Roffman, we meet Hankins, see the busts, and learn about the possible second coming of a presidential roadside attraction. Enjoy:

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