Ronald Reagan’s Hilarious White House Juggler

It’s hard to imagine a time in Washington’s history when there was productive peace.  How can two fiercely opposed sides of American government possibly thrive by meeting in the middle and achieving long-lasting legislative results for the American people?

 To find the answer all one has to do is study the relationship between Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill.  Although the pair faced off in numerous battles on Capitol Hill, they also shared a strong admiration and respect for one another that evolved into a beautiful friendship.

NBC’s Chris Matthews served six years as Speaker O’Neill’s Chief Of Staff, and in those years Matthews was given a front row seat to one of the most extraordinary friendships in modern Washington history.  In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, Matthews tells the story of his first encounter with President Reagan when Reagan walked into one of the Speaker’s offices in the House just before he was to deliver the 1982 State of the Union address.  Matthews introduced himself, and said lightheartedly: “Mr. President, welcome to the room where we plot against you.”  Reagan replied: “Oh no, not after six.  The Speaker says we’re all friends after six.”  Matthews goes on to share some other remarkable stories, including an extraordinary description of what happened hours after Reagan was badly shot in March 1981.  The President’s then Chief of Staff Jim Baker made certain that Tip O’Neill was the very first politician to be granted access to Reagan’s bedside as soon as Reagan’s family had left the hospital room.  What happened inside that room is not only enough to make your eyes moist, it may also be enough to give one hope that the power players in the Washington of today can someday learn how to be as civilized as these two men were not so many years ago.

On September 25, 1982 and as part of a TV special called “A Festival at Ford’s”, Davis headlined at Ford’s Theatre along with E. G. MarshallGrace BumbryDavid Copperfield, the Gatlin BrothersNatalia MakarovaLiza MinnelliWayne NewtonLou Rawls, and Ben Vereen. A pair of YouTube videos, which remain highly watched and referenced, show Davis entertaining President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan sitting between House Speaker Tip O’Neill and Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker.

Juggler Michael Davis (born August 23, 1953) is a comedic American juggler. He came to nationwide attention in the United States in the early 1980s, appearing on NBC’s Saturday Night Live six times, the only professional juggler to perform on the show.

On October 1, 1973, Davis started a six-week course at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. Over 3,500 applicants were whittled down to a group of 38 men and 7 women ranging in age from 17 to 35. Upon completion, successful candidates were offered a contract with the circus. Davis was chosen to be a Ringling clown based on his distinctive deadpan style. He travelled with the red unit for a year. The following year, Davis signed on with the Gatti Charles Circus.

Click here to see Davis perform for President Reagan.



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