Is it possible to feel a personal warmth and affection, even love, towards someone one has never met? It must be, because that’s how I feel about the late President Ronald Reagan.
The reason I felt so fond of the old Cold War warrior, and the reason I cherish his memory now that he is even colder, is this. Back around 1983, towards the end of Ronnie’s first term in the Oval Office, the man did me one enormous favour. Perhaps unwittingly, but nonetheless effectively, he gave my career such a boost that I lived off it for years. Still do, in some ways. What he did was this. He, the leader of the Free World, appeared on an internationally distributed light entertainment television show, and told a worldwide audience a joke that I had written for him.
An explanation is in order. The show was one of those concocted by television executives when they can’t think of anything worthwhile to do with their time and their studios. It was little more than a collection of clips harvested from the James Bond movies made to that date, and assembled under the title James Bond — The First 21 Years. The clips were segregated by subject. Thus, a bunch of clips showing Bond humping beautiful girls was followed by a bunch of clips showing Bond thumping villains, which was in turn followed by a bunch of clips showing Bond not humping Miss Moneypenny, and so on.
The show would have been even more dire than it sounds had it not been placed under the control of a dynamic and visionary producer. Yes, years ago such people did exist. This producer — whose name I will withhold because he went on to do many other much better things — conceived the idea of inserting between the bunches of clips a few mini-interviews with famous people, who would talk about James Bond as if he were a real person.