Doris Day and Mickey Rooney Remember Ronald Reagan

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," June 7, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY HOST:  In the "Factor Follow Up" segment tonight, as almost everybody knows, Ronald Reagan was a movie star in the 1940s and '50s.  He was featured in 59 films, then when on to be president of the union representing actors.  From there he leapt into national politics.  Joining us from now from Los Angeles is Mickey Rooney (search), one of America's legendary actors.

And on the phone from Carmel, California, Doris Day (search), who starred in two movies with Ronald Reagan: "The Winning Team" and "Storm Warning", right, Ms. Day?  Tell us about him.

DORIS DAY, ACTRESS:  Yes, Bill.  Well, I can only tell you that he was wonderful.  He was a marvelous actor.  He was a gentleman.  We had laughs because he's terribly funny.  And we just got along great, and -- but I only made two films with him, which was, you know, too bad.

O'REILLY:  Now a lot of these guys back when you were making films were kind of philanderers, run-arounds, crazy nut cases.  You know what I'm talking about, Doris.  You've seen enough of them.  But Reagan was totally opposite that?

DAY:  Oh, totally.  I don't know about all the philanderers, but he certainly wasn't one.

O'REILLY:  Mm-hmm.

DAY:  Not at all.  He was a gentleman at all times.

O'REILLY:  Did you ever talk politics with him?  Were you aware of his interest in that?

DAY:  No, I didn't.  And I was not interested in politics then at all.  But I knew that, you know, most of the people at the studio were Democrats, and I knew that he was then.

O'REILLY:  Yes.  At that time he was...

DAY:  Yes.

O'REILLY:  ... a Democrat.  And then he came over in 1962 and changed to a Republican.  Now Mr. Ronney, you met Ronald Reagan when you were 15 years old, and that sounds like young, but you were already a huge star at 15 years old.  People remember the Andy Hardy members and "Boys Town" and all of that.  How did you meet him and what were your impressions of him?

MICKEY ROONEY, ACTOR:  We were -- I was staying with my mother at Montisito (ph) Apartments and getting ready to do "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the -- we were rehearsing at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel where Jan (ph) and I were going to do our show, the ninth through the twelfth.  And my wife Jan and I were going to be there.  And I came down and I saw this wonderful looking gentleman, very nice, and he said to me, who are you?  I said, I'm Mickey Rooney.  Who are you?  He says, I'm Ronald Reagan.

I said, I'm very happy to know you, Mr. Reagan.  And at that time, there was a dog that came out of the - out onto the street in front of the apartment house, and he got hit, he wasn't killed, thank God, and I grabbed him and I brought him back in.  And I said, we've got to get him to a veterinarian right away.  And he said, Mickey, you're a real humanitarian.  And that's the way we started.  Of course, he invited me over to Warner Brothers and we had lunch and I met a lot of wonderful people there.  And...

O'REILLY:  So he was almost like a mentor to you.

ROONEY:  Yes.  Well, he wasn't a mentor, but he was a friend.  But he could have been a mentor to anybody because he was one of the great Americans, and a great actor.  He did 50 pictures, I believe.

O'REILLY:  Mm-hmm.  Were you aware of his political interests?  Were you aware that he, you know, was interested in the world around him to a much greater extent than just being casual?

ROONEY:  No, I wasn't.  We never talked politics.  But everyone knew that he had it in him to do anything he wanted to do.  He was the president of the Screen Actors Guild and he did a lot of things which we're very happy for.  And...

O'REILLY:  You stayed in touch with him all these years.

ROONEY:  Well, not quite in touch.  We've been traveling around our nation doing our show, but the fact is just hearing about his passing away brought our nation and brought Jan and -- my wife Jan and I to tears.  We thought the world of him.  And Nancy -- I met his lovely wife, Nancy, at -- before they were married, at Warner Brothers.  And it was a thrilling time.


ROONEY:  I'll tell you that.

O'REILLY:  OK.  The show you're referring to is a musical act.  And you're going to do a tribute to Ronald Reagan at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles from the ninth to the twelfth of this month.  Now...

ROONEY:  That's correct.

O'REILLY:  ... Doris Day, you have another story about a dog as well.  Didn't you get a call from the White House about a dog?

DAY:  Oh, that's funny.  Well, I was reading "Parade" magazine and there was a story in there about Ronnie and the fact that Ronnie and Nancy had received a present, a big dog.  I believe it was a Bouvier des Flandres (search), a big black dog.  And I thought that was a beautiful dog.  And anyway, I find out later that they had taken him to Santa Barbara and they left him at the ranch.

Well, I thought, that's terrible to do that.  I think that's very sad for that dog.  And I gave an interview.  I was doing an interview a little later, and I talked about that.  And I said, I'm surprised that he would do that, that he would send his dog to Santa Barbara, because I know he loves dogs, and -- anyway, a little bit -- a few days later -- not a few days but a month or so later that came out, and, you know, the "Parade" magazine story came out.

And I was feeding the dogs over in my dog kitchen, and one of the girls said to me, Doris, it's the White House calling.  The phone rang.  And I said, which White House?  What are you talking about?  And she said, it's the White House.  Get on the phone.  So I went to the phone and I said, yes, who is this?  Who's putting me on?  And I hear a voice say, this is President Reagan's secretary, and he would like to have a word with you.

Oh.  I said, you're kidding.  And she said, of course not, here he is now.  And he gets on and he said, well, that was a fine story about my dog and about me and Santa Barbara.  And I said, oh, I'm sorry you read it.  And he said, yes, I read every word.  And he said, I was furious about that, and I'm calling you to tell you that he loves Santa Barbara.  He loves the ranch.  He has lots doggie friends there.  And he was not happy in the White House.  I said, no?  He said, no.  He couldn't run without a leash.  He couldn't do, he couldn't play.  He couldn't...

O'REILLY:  So that was -- that's an interesting story because it just shows you that Reagan was on top of just about everything that happened, and a lot of people thought he wasn't.  That he was...

DAY:  Oh, you bet he was.

O'REILLY:  He was sharp.  All right.  Mr. Rooney, I'm going to give you the last word on this.  We only have about 45 seconds left.  You obviously have a great bit of affection, you're emotional, this is an emotional week for a lot of Americans.

DAY:  Yes, it is.

O'REILLY:  What was one thing meeting Reagan at 15 that he taught you that you can tell us in about 30 seconds, sir?

ROONEY:  Well, Bill, if you had time to listen to him, you could find out that you could learn most anything you want.  He was proud of everything that he did and he loved America.  And with our vote coming up very shortly, we should all remember, be you a Democrat, a Republican, no matter what, remember be a good American first.

O'REILLY:  All right.  Ms. Day, Mr. Rooney, we appreciate you both coming on and sharing those stories with us.

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