FROM A HIGH SCHOOL JOCK TO A HOLLYWOOD SUPERSTAR, THE ICON CHARMED FRIENDS & CO-STARS. NOW, THEY SHARE CHERISHED MEMORIES OF HIS LIFE
Closer pays tribute to the screen legend’s amazing life and career.
Burt Reynolds sped to No. 1 box-office stardom behind the wheel of a Trans Am in the 1977 car-chase smash Smokey and the Bandit. But by the time he did a Q&A at NYC’s Metrograph theater after a screening of his classic 1972 drama Deliverance this year, he had slowed down considerably. Still, as he was helped into his limo following the event, a trademark twinkle glinted in his eye after a fan yelled out, “We love you, Burt!”
“I love you, too!” he said, punctuating it with a signature cackle. He was a good ol’ boy to the end. Burt — who died of a reported heart attack at 82 on Sept. 6 — was raised in Florida, the son of a local police chief who inspired Jackie Gleason’s Sheriff Buford T. Justice in the Smokey movies. A football star at Florida State, he later drew on his gridiron experiences in films like Semi-Tough and The Longest Yard. Although a knee in- jury sidelined him, he threw himself into stunt work. “I thought I was unbreakable,” he said. Acting, he added, happened “totally by accident.”
If so, it was a happy one. Yet Burt became as famous for his turbulent personal life — including romances with Dinah Shore and Sally Field and marriages to Judy Carne and Loni Anderson — as he was for his acting, which often seemed to be on cruise control. “I made more than 100 movies, and I’m proud of maybe five,” he said with typical candor.
THE LAST MOVIE STAR
Burt was capable of delivering skilled performances, like his Oscar-nominated turn as an avuncular porn-movie director in 1997’s Boogie Nights. In his own two-fisted style, Burt allegedly punched director Paul Thomas Anderson over creative differences during the production. “I plead the Fifth,” he quipped when asked about it.
Burt with a replica of his Smokey and the Bandit Trans Amin 2016