Today, 9/6/2018, was a sad day in Hollywood as one of it’s most famous icons left us. Burt Reynolds, whose mischievous grin and wily charm made him a screen icon and sex symbol of 1970s Hollywood, died from cardiac arrest at a Florida hospital. He was 82.
Burton Leon Reynolds was born on Feb. 11, 1936, in Lansing, Michigan, and raised in Florida, where he got his first taste of stardom as an all-Southern Conference running back at Florida State University in the 1950s. His dream of playing for the NFL was destroyed by a knee injury and later on, a car injury.
Reynolds starred in a string of box-office smashes in the mid-1970s, including “Deliverance,” “The Longest Yard” and “Smokey and the Bandit,” a Southern-fried action comedy in which he played a devil-may-care trucker with a need for speed. He famously posed nude on a bearskin rug for a Cosmopolitan magazine centerfold in April 1972, replete with ample chest hair — and left an impression on most women’s minds. Reynolds found a common ground in the early 1990s with an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning lead role on the football-themed sitcom “Evening Shade.” Reynolds had an acclaimed turn as a San Fernando Valley porn kingpin in 1997’s “Boogie Nights,” a role that earned him his only Oscar nomination. He received high accolades from his role by critics.
He scored a Golden Globe for best-supporting actor for his performance, but came up short at the Oscars, when the award went to Robin Williams for “Good Will Hunting.”
Most recently, he made an impression earlier in 2018 in Adam Rifkin’s “The Last Movie Star,” essentially playing himself as a star confronting mortality.
“I once said that I’d rather have a Heisman Trophy than an Oscar,” Reynolds wrote in his memoir. “I lied.”
In his 2015 memoir, “But Enough About Me,” Reynolds appeared to express regret for having chosen light-hearted heartthrob roles over more serious, challenging projects, writing in part: “I didn’t open myself to new writers or risky parts because I wasn’t interested in challenging myself as an actor, I was interested in having a good time.” Reynolds referred to actress Sally Field as the love of his life.
Sally Field, who dated Reynolds in the 1970s and teamed up with him for four movies, said in a statement: “My years with Burt never leave my mind. He will be in my history and my heart, for as long as I live. Rest, Buddy.”
Reynolds was married twice. The former television star Loni Anderson [Sitcom-“WKRP in Cincinnati”] and he had a very public and bitter divorce after only five years of marriage. The couple adopted a son [Quinton] during their marriage. He was also briefly married to Judy Carne, a British actress perhaps best known for hollering a catchphrase — “Sock it to me!” — on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” Reynolds was also involved with Dinah Shore who was 20 years his senior. Sally Field and Reynolds were a couple for 5 years after meeting on the set of “Smokey and the Bandit” in 1977.
Reynolds turned down the following movie roles: “James Bond”, Hans Solo in “Star Wars”, Michael Corleone in “The Godfather,” Richard Gere’s Part in “Pretty Woman,” Jack Nicholson’s Roles in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Terms of Endearment,” also Bruce Willis’s role in “Diehard.”
Ref. NBC News, Wikipedia.com, Variety.com
Photo courtesy of Bing