Memories of Reynolds won’t fade
Like many actors, Burt Reynolds was a chameleon. Whether he was chasing bad guys as Palm Beach detective B.L. Stryker, portraying a football player in “Semi-Tough” and “The Longest Yard,” or was behind the wheel in a “Smokey and the Bandit” car chase, he exuded the Southern charm that made him a star. And that Southern charm came from growing up in Palm Beach County.
The Sept. 6 death of Mr. Reynolds prompted former Manalapan resident Kimberly Strauss, of New York and Boca Raton, to send a remembrance.
“I thought you might enjoy this quick anecdote from years past concerning the late Burt Reynolds. He really was a fantastic guy, and when I learned of his passing, I immediately and fondly remembered his visit to Manalapan in the 1980s when and where he was shooting the “B.L. Stryker” TV series at our house.
“He was a lot of fun to be around, quite the same off camera as on, but quiet and reserved, as well; sincerely sweet and gentle.
“For whatever, (it’s) worth, I thought I’d share a photo from those days of Mr. Reynolds and my late mother, Mrs. Eugenia P. Strauss (also formerly from Hollywood). This was taken at the former home, Mia Encantada (1000 S. Ocean Blvd.) . ... Rita Moreno, Ossie Davis, Abe Vigoda and Ted McGinley were on location, as well.”
Even though there is a Palm Beach connection to the series — Buddy Lee Stryker supposedly lived in Palm Beach — it only lasted two seasons. Yet, almost 30 years later, the memory is still vivid for Kimberly Strauss.
As it is for others in Palm Beach County, since Mr. Reynolds was probably the most-famous person to come from the county. Though many famous people call (or have called) the county home for at least some of the year — such as President Donald Trump, President
John F. Kennedy, Jack Nicklaus, Joe Namath, Celine Dion, Vanilla Ice, Ariana Grande, etc. — Mr. Reynolds never forgot where he came from, which endeared him to residents throughout his career.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Reynolds, but I visited his former Jupiter museum about 25 times. My friend used to hold acting and improv classes on the small stage they had there, and I went many times. My daughter had a small part in a small film he made.
What a unique (and somewhat kitschy) place, but that only added to the appeal. It was fascinating to see the Emmy (among other awards) from “Evening Shade,” a canoe from “Deliverance,” all the sports memorabilia, all the notes and autographed photos from Hollywood elite, and that Roy Rogers saddle. It made you feel like you knew Mr. Reynolds even if you hadn’t met him.
Mr. Reynolds had a love affair with Palm Beach County, including Palm Beach.
In 2004, he wrote about Worth Avenue: “I love to drive around the island in a convertible in the evening with the top down, no matter it be summer or winter. It’s intoxicating.”
As was Mr. Reynolds’ devotion to everything Palm Beach County. Many will agree with Mrs. Strauss: He was a fantastic guy, and he will be missed.
Kimberly Strauss, of New York and Boca Raton, shared this image of Burt Reynolds and her mother, Mrs. Eugenia P. Strauss taken in the 1980s at Mia Encantada at 1000 S. Ocean Blvd.