Burt Reynolds has been the most popular subject of my blogs. This will be the fourth time I’ve written about him.
Burt packed a lot of life into his 82 years. He was arguably the biggest cultural icon of the 1970s. In the mid 70s he was the biggest box office star. While his contemporaries: Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson tended to avoid publicity, Burt was drawn to it like a moth to a light. He appeared on The Tonight Show 62 times in his career, and was on every talk show, in every magazine and was unusually approachable for a figure of his popularity.
There were two Burts. The first was the megastar: the Bandit, The Longest Yard, the Cannonball Run, Deliverance, the centerfold, the Sally Field romance and other events of his life during this era. The other Burt took over in the 1980s, after his star began to fade, his marriage and divorce from Loni, his financial problems, illnesses and legal problems. The second Burt was around a lot longer than the first Burt, but those of us from the era of the first Burt will focus on that part of his life.
Burt the megastar was naturally bigger than life. The images of him with the mustache, open shirt and warm smile are as familiar as the disco ball, bell bottoms or Star Wars ad. I mention Star Wars because he was reportedly offered the role that went to Harrison Ford, but he turned it down. Burt didn’t always make the best decisions about film roles, investments or women; but during his heyday, there were many other options and choices that did prove right. By his own admission, later in life he had some regrets; breaking up with Sally Field was one of them.
How many males wished they could be Burt for a day? That is a big number. It wasn’t just because Burt was famous, had lots of money, made exciting films, or dated beautiful women. Well, that is a lot of it. In addition to those things, Burt was a cool guy. When you saw him on The Tonight Show, he was having a good time. He had a funny laugh and participated in humorous gags with Johnny. He was the same when he appeared on girlfriend Dinah Shore’s show. He had a humbleness and friendliness that transcended being a megastar. Even though he was this bigger than life character, you could imagine seeing him at the grocery store or at the gas station. I could not imagine seeing Robert Redford in the produce section or Jack Nicholson at the gas pump. Burt would be squeezing grapefruits and laughing about it.
Burt’s passing is the passing of an era. For many of us, we grew up in his early and popular years. We still watch his movies and will always remember those years with fondness and a connection to our youth.
“My movies were the kind they show in prisons and airplanes, because nobody can leave.” – Burt Reynolds
For more reading about Burt.
https://wp.me/p6i9Jd-vQ Burt Reynolds Revisited
https://wp.me/p6i9Jd-3g Burt Reynolds: A Look Back
https://wp.me/p6i9Jd-3r 10 Burt Reynolds Films You Should See