Scottish Daily Mail

My car-crash love life

To swoon­ing fe­male fans, he was the sex­i­est star in Hol­ly­wood. But as th­ese ri­otously un­but­toned mem­oirs re­veal, Burt Reynolds’ ro­man­tic ca­reer has been FAR from smooth

- By Burt Reynolds Celebrity Inventors · Ageism · Television Presenters · Groupies · Supermodels · Viral · Bullying · BDSM · Group Sex · Feminism · Sex · Discrimination · Bloggers · Celebrities · Human Rights · Society · Social Movements · Relationships & Sex · Internet Celebrities · Florida · Bahamas · Diana, Princess of Wales · Wonder Woman · Palm Beach · Palm Beach · William Inge · Greta Garbo · Helen Gurley Brown · Fun (band) · Paul Newman · Dinah Shore · Sally Field · Loni Anderson · Key West, FL · Judy Carne · Raquel Welch

THE ac­tress Loni An­der­son was the most strik­ing-look­ing woman I’d ever seen. She came up to me one evening at an awards gala, asked me to dance and whis­pered in my ear: ‘I want to have your baby.’ ‘Right here?’ I said. ‘You know what I mean,’ she said. ‘Yeah, I know what you mean and I’m flat­tered — but don’t you think we should find out if we like each other first?’

The truth is, I never did like her. We’d be to­gether and she’d be gor­geous, though I al­ways thought she wore too much make-up.

It would be nice and all that, but I’d be think­ing: ‘This is not the per­son for me. What the hell am I do­ing with her?’

I don’t re­mem­ber ac­tu­ally ask­ing her to marry me, but she put me un­der con­stant pres­sure. I kept telling her that we’d get mar­ried as soon as I fin­ished build­ing a chapel on my ranch. It took four years be­cause I kept adding things on. When it was fi­nally done, I had no ex­cuse.

So why did I marry her? Be­sides the phys­i­cal at­trac­tion, it was the force of her per­son­al­ity. Her de­ter­mi­na­tion. It was some­thing she wanted, and she would not be de­nied. Loni was that way about ev­ery­thing: any­thing she went af­ter, she got. Did I have a choice? Of course I did. What was I think­ing? Ob­vi­ously, I wasn’t think­ing at all.

On the way to the cer­e­mony, my best man, the Amer­i­can foot­ball player Vic Prinzi, said: ‘Do you really want to do this?’ ‘no, I don’t,’ I said. ‘Then let’s get the hell out of here,’ he said. ‘But my mom and dad are sit­ting there wait­ing for me. My mom loves Loni. It’ll kill her.’

‘I hate to break this to you,’ Vic said, ‘but your mother can’t stand Loni.’

I paused in the door­way of the chapel. As I stood there look­ing at the as­sem­bled guests, Mom caught my eye. She was shak­ing her head: NO. But I didn’t have the guts to pull the plug. Af­ter the re­cep­tion, Loni and I jumped on a he­li­copter and flew to Key West in Florida, where we boarded a 120ft yacht for a cruise to the Ba­hamas. But Loni said she was sea­sick. I was puz­zled. ‘Don’t you think we should cast off first?’ I said. In­stead of sail­ing to the Ba­hamas, we turned around and mo­tored up some canals and rivers. not a good omen.

The first time I jok­ingly called Loni ‘The Count­ess’ she beamed — and from then on, it was in her con­tract.

She bought ev­ery­thing in trip­li­cate, from dresses to jew­ellery, china and li­nen. She bought de­signer gowns for $10,000 (£7,000) a pop and wore them only once. ‘I never wear a dress af­ter it’s been pho­tographed,’ she said. ‘I have to dress like a star.’

I gave her a plat­inum Amer­i­can ex­press card with a $45,000 (£30,000) credit limit. She maxed it out in half an hour.

Her spend­ing was plung­ing me into debt, but my at­ti­tude was: what­ever makes her happy is OK. But even­tu­ally the well ran dry.

We called it quits af­ter five years of mar­riage. When we an­nounced the sep­a­ra­tion, the Press went into high gear. Princess Diana sent me a thank-you note for keep­ing her off the cover of Peo­ple mag­a­zine. For a long time af­ter the di­vorce, the tabloids were still call­ing Loni and me ‘cheese­cake and beef­cake’.

The worst part of the di­vorce was los­ing cus­tody of our adopted son, Quin­ton. I fell in love the sec­ond I laid eyes on him and we adopted him when he was three days old. One of the hard­est things I had to do was tell him Loni and I were sep­a­rat­ing. He was then aged six. We went for a walk on the beach, but I couldn’t say it. Fi­nally, Quin­ton looked up at me and said: ‘Daddy, is the dance over?’

‘That’s right,’ I said. ‘Mommy and I started the dance to­gether, but the dance is over and now she’s go­ing to her side and I’m go­ing to mine.’

He thought for a mo­ment. ‘It’ll be all right, Daddy,’ he said. ‘You’re a man.’ LONI wasn’t my first ven­ture into mar­riage. My first wife was the ac­tress Judy Carne, and we di­vorced af­ter just three years — though it was over long be­fore that.

We’d mar­ried in 1963, af­ter dat­ing for just six months, and it soon be­came ob­vi­ous we had very lit­tle in com­mon.

I couldn’t get into her life­style — the non-stop par­ty­ing, the hard drugs, the kinky sex — and she wasn’t thrilled with my ten­dency to re­sort to fisticuffs in ar­gu­ments with other men.

Af­ter one of my many brawls, she said: ‘God, you’re bor­ing.’

To this day, I credit Judy with help­ing me to dis­cover that a guy doesn’t need his fists to make a point.

In 1968, she sud­denly be­came a sen­sa­tion on a TV show called Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Her role con­sisted of danc­ing in a bikini and say­ing, ‘Sock it to me!’ — af­ter which she’d be doused with wa­ter or hit with a pie.

Later, Judy’s ca­reer be­gan to wane; her sub­stance abuse got worse, and she made a lot of money talk­ing about me to the tabloids.

She claimed I hit her, which wasn’t true. That broke my heart. LEAV­ING aside my two mar­riages, I’ve been ex­cep­tion­ally lucky with the women I’ve known.

As a boy of 15, I was fas­ci­nated by an an­tique shop in Palm Beach, Florida, kept by a beau­ti­ful woman in her 40s. I kept go­ing back to peer at the ex­otic ob­jects on dis­play — and one day, she asked me to her house on the beach.

We had drinks, we laughed and one thing led to an­other. It was my first time, and I was smit­ten.

Af­ter that, I’d go there once a week. We’d have din­ner, tell sto­ries and make love. This went on for sev­eral months, un­til the night she said it was time to call it quits.

I protested, al­most pleaded, but she just smiled. And that was it. She left me be­wil­dered and frus­trated, but she’d also made me very, very happy.

not a week goes by that I don’t think about her. IT TOOK me a while to get any­where as an ac­tor. I had the usual jobs — wait­ing ta­bles, bar­tend­ing, un­load­ing cargo ships — and when I was really broke I made ‘tomato soup’ from hot wa­ter and ketchup.

In 1957, af­ter I landed a part in a Broad­way re­vival of the Joshua Lo­gan play Mis­ter Roberts, an­other fa­mous play­wright, Wil­liam Inge, came back­stage one night and in­vited me to a party. I ar­rived early and there were only two peo­ple there: Mr Inge and an ab­so­lutely stun­ning lady.

He in­tro­duced us, but I didn’t catch her name. She was wear­ing a bright yel­low silk blouse with noth­ing un­derneath — highly un­usual for the Fifties. But when she caught me star­ing at her beau­ti­ful breasts, she just smiled and said: ‘My eyes are up here.’ ‘Yes, ma’am,’ I said. She was a ma­ture woman, with a low, kind of whisky voice, but she had a youth­ful en­ergy about her. And she was funny, not only laugh­ing at my jokes but making me laugh, too.

I was bowled over. Other guests ar­rived and tried to en­gage with her, but she wasn’t in­ter­ested: when­ever I moved away to al­low her to talk to some­one else, she fol­lowed me.

Af­ter the oth­ers had left, she asked me to tell her my life story. I be­gan blab­ber­ing. I heard my­self talk­ing to­tal non­sense, as if I were out­side my body, watch­ing this id­iot make a com­plete mess of things.

even­tu­ally, I jumped up and told her I was leav­ing. But as I started for the door, she touched my arm and said, ‘Why don’t you come home with me?’ Ap­pallingly, I started to gig­gle. Then I blurted out: ‘I’m just down the street at the ho­tel and I’ll just go on home by my­self, but thank you, though.’

I didn’t find out un­til the next day that I’d just said no to Greta Garbo, who was 31 years older than me. WHEN I made the movie Fuzz — a po­lice ac­tion com­edy — with Raquel Welch in 1972, I had the top billing — and that p***ed her off. THE pic­ture would be a mile­stone in the sex­ual revo­lu­tion, said He­len Gur­ley Brown — ed­i­tor-in-chief of Cos­mopoli­tan — and I was the one man who could pull it off. Would I agree to be­come the mag­a­zine’s first male nude cen­tre­fold?

I was flat­tered and in­trigued. I wish I could say I wanted to show sup­port for women’s rights, but I just thought it would be fun. I found out later that she’d asked Paul New­man first, but he’d turned it down.

Ev­ery­body I re­spected told me not

She told the pro­ducer: ‘I will not work with him. I will not be on the same stage.’

So I’d come to work, and Raquel’s dou­ble would be there in­stead, with her back to the cam­era. I’d say my lines to her and the di­rec­tor would say: ‘Cut.’ As I was driv­ing out of the stu­dio gate, the guard would pick up the phone and say, ‘He’s leav­ing now’ — and then Raquel would go in and say her lines to my dou­ble. We made the whole movie like that, never to­gether in the same scene. Put it this way: we don’t send each other Christ­mas cards In THE Seven­ties, I met the woman I thought I was go­ing to spend the rest of my life with: Di­nah Shore.

She was 20 years older than me and we met on her day­time show, Di­nah’s Place. Making love be­came a new ex­pe­ri­ence: for the first time, I was shar­ing in­ti­macy with my heart full of gen­uine, un­con­di­tional love.

I’d never felt that way about a woman be­fore. She taught me about mu­sic, art, food and wine; she taught me which fork to use; she taught me how to dress.

We were soul­mates, but mar­riage wasn’t on the cards.

My ca­reer was on fire and my ego was out of con­trol. I wanted to enjoy the fruits of my pop­u­lar­ity and I didn’t want to do it on the sly.

And there was some­thing else: I fi­nally ad­mit­ted to my­self that the age dif­fer­ence did mat­ter in one im­por­tant re­spect: I wanted a child of my own.

Break­ing up with Di­nah was the hard­est thing I’d ever done. She sat on the sofa, hold­ing a han­kie. And she kept her com­po­sure, but I lost mine. I missed her the minute I walked out the door. I could barely func­tion for weeks.

She’s the most won­der­ful per­son I’ve ever known. AND then came Sally Field. When I told Univer­sal that I wanted her for my co-star in Smokey And The Bandit, they said, ‘Why would you want the god­damn Fly­ing nun?’ — the name of the sit­com she’d just starred in. ‘Be­cause she has tal­ent,’ I said. They came back with: ‘She isn’t sexy.’ ‘You don’t understand,’ I said. ‘Tal­ent is sexy.’

When I fi­nally won the bat­tle, I called Sally to ask her to be in the pic­ture — but she wasn’t ex­actly thrilled. ‘I know your movies are com­mer­cial, but it’s not the kind of thing I want to do,’ she said. ‘Then again, my agents tell me I need a com­mer­cial movie . . .’

I wasn’t over­joyed by her re­ac­tion, but I was taken with her im­me­di­ately at the first re­hearsal. She was strong, funny and spec­tac­u­larly good.

One of the things peo­ple say about Smokey is that it’s like watch­ing two peo­ple gen­uinely fall in love,

and it’s true. I mean, the sex­ual tension was bounc­ing off the walls. Sally and I pro­posed to each other more than once, but ev­ery time I wanted to get mar­ried, she didn’t; and ev­ery time she wanted to get mar­ried, I didn’t.

If we had tied the knot, I think it would have been a dan­ger­ous mix, like fire and gaso­line, but there would have been won­der­ful mo­ments, too. And I would have been de­ter­mined to make it work.

Af­ter we broke up, I wanted to see her again, but she re­fused and I fell apart. I wrote her a let­ter say­ing: ‘Could we just go to din­ner?’ The an­swer was no. I still wanted to see her, but my pride stepped in and I gave up. Later, I be­came very sick af­ter break­ing my jaw, los­ing so much weight that a ru­mour be­gan that I had Aids. At that point, Sally did an in­ter­view with Play­boy.

Asked whether I had Aids, she said she didn’t know. Then she added: ‘There’s al­ways been some­thing go­ing on around Burt.’ What the hell was that sup­posed to mean? I was shocked and hurt, and still don’t know what pos­sessed her to say it.

She sent me a half-hearted note of apol­ogy, say­ing she’d been ‘flip­pant’. We haven’t been in touch since.

But I wish I could turn back the clock. I’m sorry I never told her that I loved her, and I’m sorry we couldn’t make it work. It’s the big­gest re­gret of my life.

ADAPTED by Corinna Ho­nan from But Enough About Me by Burt Reynolds & Jon Wi­nokur, to be pub­lished by Blink this Thurs­day (Nov 19), priced £20. To buy a copy for £15 visit mail­book­shop.co.uk or call 0808 272 0808. Of­fer un­til this Satur­day (Nov 21). P&P is free on or­ders over £12.

 ?? Pic­tures:COS­MOPOLI­TAN/
SPORT­SPHOTO/AL­LS­TAR ?? Seven­ties sex sym­bols: Burt Reynolds pos­ing nude for Cos­mopoli­tan in 1972 and, inset, his un­happy co-star Raquel Welch
Pic­tures:COS­MOPOLI­TAN/ SPORT­SPHOTO/AL­LS­TAR Seven­ties sex sym­bols: Burt Reynolds pos­ing nude for Cos­mopoli­tan in 1972 and, inset, his un­happy co-star Raquel Welch
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