Remarks at a Reception for Celebrities of the Entertainment Industry, San Clemente, California
Mr. Vice President, Governor and Mrs. Reagan, and all of our very distinguished guests tonight: I am not going to impose on you another speech after what many of you had to endure last week in terms of so many speeches, but I did not want this opportunity to go by without expressing, on behalf of Mrs. Nixon, my wife Pat, and myself, our appreciation to all of you. I would like to do it in three really different ways.
First, as I met all of you coming through the line tonight, I thought back over the years, and it has been a long time. Many of you here won't even remember, but some of you were here then, and I recall 1946, 1950, '52, '56, '60, '62 '68, and here it is '72 and you are still with us. We thank you very much.
I remember, too, that I wanted this opportunity to express special appreciation to those who have entertained at the White House. We know that it is a great, certainly a burden to have to pick up everything and come to the White House and entertain, and then not even be able to deduct it from your taxes. [Laughter]
But nevertheless, on the other hand, we have been most grateful. Many of you have been there, and this is the only campaign promise I am going to make tonight: Anybody who hasn't been invited to the White House to entertain, in the next 4 years you will be there, too.
Second, I wanted to express appreciation for those who participated in our convention, for those who have participated in the various rallies and so forth that we have had, over and over again. I know that sometimes we arrive, you think we aren't even aware of what you have done, but I know those audiences really wouldn't be up to have to listen to what I have to say unless you had been there before. In other words, you warm them up, and that is certainly most appreciated.
But beyond that, those that have entertained at the White House, those that have participated in conventions, I simply wanted to say that, speaking to all of you, and to everybody in this whole community that we call Hollywood, I would like to express appreciation as an individual, and also speaking as the President of the United States, for what you, the people of Hollywood, have done for America and have done for the world.
I can speak with some feeling on this point. Let me begin by saying that my wife and I like movies. We like them on television. We fortunately now have our own projection set in the White House. [Laughter] That is one of the reasons I ran again. I just can't stand those commercials on the Late Show. [Laughter]
But we have seen many movies. We haven't yet shown an X-rated movie in the White House. We had an "R" one night, and I said, "That is as far as you can go."
Be that as it may, we have seen some of the old ones and some of the new ones and we like them. Now, I am going to say something that Charlton Heston,1 I know, will appreciate, and also his successor, and all of those who are interested in seeing that this great industry stays alive and remains strong. Any of you who may be reporting this will consider this to be a little bit jingoistic and pro-American. If so, make the most of it.
But I like my movies made in Hollywood, made in America, and I don't mean that I can't appreciate a good foreign movie, or a foreign movie star or starlet, or whatever the case may be. But I think that the motion picture industry--it started here, it has grown up here--this is something that is typically American and it is something that means a lot in presenting America to the world.
Oh, I know, we hear a lot of talk about bad movies being shown in various places, and so forth, but in all the countries that my wife and I have visited, about 80, I can assure you that Hollywood, in most of them, has been there before. We go along streets in the cities of Africa and Asia and Latin America, everyplace, and on that marquee you will see the Hollywood names that we are so familiar with. It makes us feel at home as we see those names.
Just to give you an idea of how what Hollywood produces has such a great effect abroad--we have a wonderful couple working for us, a Spanish couple, Manolo and Fina Sanchez. The other day at Camp David we were looking over the movie list, and there wasn't anything that had been made recently that particularly appealed, so we wanted to get something that could be shown to younger people safely, and consequently, we ended up by selecting a John Wayne movie. I asked Manolo, my very wonderful aide, I said, "Manolo, do you think this would be a good movie?" He said, "Oh, yes, sir. I saw it 30 years ago in Spain." Now, that dates either John Wayne or me or Manolo.
But what I am going to suggest is that he said that movie played for 2 months-I mean in La Corufia, the town in Spain in which he lived--and he had seen it on that occasion. So here we have Hollywood projecting America to the world.
Let me say a word, too, about what Hollywood says in the United States. We talk about the influence of politicians on America, and we do have influence on America, and we must always remember it. We talk about the influence of ministers on America, and a man like Billy Graham, and the priests, the rabbis, the ministers, do have a great influence on America, an influence for good.
We talk about the influence of teachers, and we all remember great teachers that we have had and how much they have meant to us. We have to realize that today, because of the advent of television, you in motion pictures and television have perhaps more time of the children of America than the preacher, the teacher, the politician, or even the parents.
That shows you how very important what you do is to the future of America. They see you. They look up to you. They want to be like you. I am not suggesting that every movie, therefore, must be educational. I am not suggesting that every television production must be educational or have a lesson. As a matter of fact, on the contrary, I think when we see a movie or when we see a television program, that sometimes we need to laugh, maybe sometimes we need to cry. Sometimes we need to be taken out of the humdrum life that we live. Sometimes we need to dream.
So make the movies, and as you do make them, or the television shows, that do give us that lift, that little extra dimension in our lives, that also serves the future of this country in a very, very great way. But what I am suggesting is this: That you who make and produce the motion pictures and the television shows, do have an enormous influence on America, and I think it has been, I think it will continue to be in the future with your help, an influence for good.
Now, if I can turn, in conclusion, very briefly, to the field of politics. I have often said that I wonder why people who are enormously successful in motion pictures or television will take time for politics. I think I know why. It is because you have show business. It is because you are interested in that, but you realize that the bigger business is the business of America. You realize that the future of show business, the future of your personal lives, the future of America and the world will depend upon the leadership that we have in America, and you are willing, therefore, to go out and speak up for America, each in your own way.
In that connection, incidentally, I know that there are those who will not do that, and I understand and I do not criticize them, but let me just suggest this to you: I said a moment ago that when those of us who are not in show business have the opportunity to see a good movie or a good television show, and when it takes us away from all of our problems, that is good for us.
Putting it in terms of yourselves, when you move out of your business, when you do something in the field of politics, you are engaging in an activity that is bigger than yourselves, and that is good for you, it is good for any of us.
I think that President de Gaulle said it best of all in terms of a nation when he said that "France is never her true self unless she is engaged in a great enterprise." That is true of a nation; it is true of an individual. We are never our true selves unless we are engaged in an enterprise bigger than ourselves.
And I think we all are--you, those of us who are working in this campaign, and for that matter, those working on the other side. What we are doing is engaging in an enterprise as big as America, and as big as the world, because what happens in America will determine the future of the world over these next 25 years.
That is what this election is about. That is why I am so very proud that we have such a magnificent group of Americans, from Hollywood, our own State, our own town, supporting us.
Just to show you why I now welcome the opportunity, as Pat will, to talk with you, and meet each of you personally for a little while longer, I end with a true story about what happened at the White House just a few months ago.
We had a meeting on narcotics with a group of Congressmen from the New York area, and Congressman Rangel, a Democratic Congressman, a very able man, from Harlem, spoke to me very movingly about the necessity of doing something about heroin. He said, "Everybody talks about welfare and everybody talks about all the other things that can be done for the people of my district, but," he said, "the most important thing you can do is to stop that heroin that is destroying the lives of so many of my people, so many of my constituents." And he said, "For one thing, can't you do something to stop the production of and the export of the heroin poppy from Turkey into the United States?" I said, "We will do what we can, Mr. Congressman."
As a result of what we were able to do after that occasion, we worked with the Government of Turkey, we got an agreement worked out whereby all the heroin poppy production in Turkey will be stopped within a year.
! called the Congressman on the phone because I was rather pleased, and I thought he would be. I said, "Mr. Congressman, I think you will be interested to know that we have reached an agreement with the Turkish Government which will be announced later today to the effect that they will stop all heroin poppy production within the next year." The Congressman was somewhat overwhelmed by the call, and we talked a bit, and he said he appreciated it--the follow-up.
Then he said, "You know, Mr. President, when I was growing up in Harlem, if I had told my old man that some day I would be talking to the President of the United States, he would have told me I was crazy." And I said, "Well, Mr. Congressman, if when I was growing up in Yorba Linda, had I told my old man that some day I would be talking to a Congressman on the phone, he would have thought I was crazy."
I will simply close my remarks tonight by saying if I had told my old man--and this will date us both, my old man and the man I am going to mention and me, too--if I had told my old man when I was growing up in Yorba Linda that some clay I would be talking to Jack Benny, he would have said that I was crazy.
1 Charlton Heston, actor and president of the Screen Actors Guild 1966-71.
Note: The President spoke at 6:18 p.m. in his California residence. He spoke without referring to notes.
Richard Nixon, Remarks at a Reception for Celebrities of the Entertainment Industry, San Clemente, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/254802