BURT REYNOLDS

FROM A HIGH SCHOOL JOCK TO A HOL­LY­WOOD SU­PER­STAR, THE ICON CHARMED FRIENDS & CO-STARS. NOW, THEY SHARE CHER­ISHED MEM­O­RIES OF HIS LIFE

Closer Weekly - - Contents - By BRUCE FRETTS

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

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