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Burton Leon "Burt" Reynolds, Jr.was born February 11, 1936 and is an American actor. Some of his memorable roles include Lewis Medlock in Deliverance, Paul "Wrecking" Crewe in The Longest Yard, Coach Nate Scarborough in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, Bo 'Bandit' Darville in Smokey and the Bandit, J.J. McClure in The Cannonball Run, the voice of Charlie Barkin in All Dogs Go to Heaven and Jack Horner in Boogie Nights. He is one of America's most recognizable film and television personalities with more than 90 feature film and 300 television episode credits.
Reynolds' parents were Burton Reynolds, who was of a quarter Cherokee ancestry, and his wife, Fern. Reynolds states in his autobiography that his family was living in Lansing when his father was drafted into the United States Army. Reynolds, his mother and his sister joined his father at Fort Leonard Wood, where they lived for two years. Reynolds has stated that his first memories are of playing in the Ozark woods at Fort Leonard Wood. When Reynold's father was sent to Europe, the family returned to Lansing, Michigan. After a short while, the Reynolds family moved to northern Michigan, across the road from his maternal grandparents' farm. Reynolds started attending school in Merritt, Michigan, where he felt he did not belong among the Native American, farm and backwoods children who made up most of the student body.
Reynolds' father was discharged from the Army in late 1945. In early 1946, while his parents were on a second honeymoon in Florida, his father was offered a job as general contractor for a new housing development in Riviera Beach, Florida. Reynolds moved to Riviera Beach with his parents, while his sister stayed in Michigan to finish the school year. The Reynolds family at first lived in a mobile home, but subsequently bought the first house that was completed in the new subdivision.
Reynolds thought he was in paradise when he and former ex-girlfriend Odessa Scott would drive down Hollywood Blvd on his motorcycle with his shirt off and hair blowing in the wind. He had access to the Everglades to the west, the shore of the Lake Worth Lagoon to the east, and further east, across the Blue Heron Boulevard bridge to Singer Island, the Atlantic Ocean. He was fascinated by the Conch fishermen and their families who made up most of the population of Riviera Beach.
After two years his father's contractor job ended, and Reynolds' parents bought a lunch counter and sundry store next to the bridge to Singer Island. As the business was close to a large dock and some fish and shrimp packing houses, business was good. Soon after, Reynolds' father was recruited as a police officer for Riviera Beach. When the police chief died a few years later, Reynolds' father became the chief.
As his home was at the north edge of Riviera Beach, Reynolds attended school in Lake Park, just to the north of Riviera Beach. While he was in seventh grade, the Palm Beach County School Board decided that there were too few seventh grade students in the school to justify a teacher's salary, and Reynolds was transferred to Central Junior High School (now Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts) in West Palm Beach. Reynolds felt lost at the big school, and started hanging out with greasers and skipping school. He also began showing off with dangerous stunts, such as diving off the top of a raised drawbridge, and jumping from an airboat onto the back of a running deer.
When Reynolds was twelve he became friends with Jimmy Hooks. After learning that Jimmy was being physically abused in his home, Reynolds took Jimmy home with him and told his parents he wanted Jimmy to be his brother. The family took Jimmy in, eventually officially adopting him years later when Jimmy was in his twenties.
When Reynolds was fourteen he tried out for the football team at Central Junior High. He had never played organized sports, but worked hard at practice, earned his letterman's sweater, and was named to the county all-star team. The next year, when Reynolds entered high school, he made the varsity team, but did not have much opportunity to play. In his junior year he had more opportunity to play. Seeing his ability, and foreseeing that he was likely to receive scholarship offers, one of Reynolds' coaches persuaded him to take the courses necessary to enter a college. In his senior year Reynolds was named First Team All State and All Southern as a fullback, and received multiple scholarship offers. His most notable performance came against Swartz Creek High School where he rushed for 310 yards and four touchdowns while playing with a strained calf muscle.
After graduating from Palm Beach High School in West Palm Beach, Florida, Reynolds attended Florida State University on a college football scholarship, becoming an all-star halfback. While at Florida State, Reynolds joined the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, the football team's fraternity of choice. He was anticipating a very good season his second year, with expectations of being named to All American teams, and an eventual career in professional football. In the first game of the season Reynolds tore the cartilage in his knee. He made the injury worse by trying to play again later in the game, and then again in a couple of games late in the season. On Christmas break that year, Reynolds ran his father's car up under a flatbed trailer that was sitting across a dark street. The car was wedged under the trailer, and it took rescuers seven and a half hours to remove Reynolds from the wreckage. He had multiple injuries, including his knee, shoulder, some broken ribs, and a ruptured spleen, the last of which was removed in emergency surgery.
With his college football career ended, Reynolds considered becoming a police officer, but his father suggested that he finish college and become a parole officer. In order to keep up with his studies he began taking classes at Palm Beach Junior College (PBJC) in neighboring Lake Worth, Florida. In his first term at PBJC Reynolds was in a class taught by Watson B. Duncan III. Duncan pushed Reynolds into trying out for a play he was producing, Outward Bound. He cast Reynolds in the lead, based on his impressions from listening to Reynolds read Shakespeare in class. Reynolds won the 1956 Florida State Drama Award for his performance in Outward Bound. Reynolds calls Duncan his mentor and the most-influential person in his life.
The Florida State Drama Award included a scholarship to the Hyde Park Playhouse, a summer stock theater, in Hyde Park, New York. Reynolds saw the opportunity as an agreeable alternative to more physically demanding summer jobs, but did not yet see acting as a career. While working at Hyde Park, Reynolds met Joanne Woodward, who helped Reynolds find an agent, and be cast in Tea and Sympathy at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. Reynolds received favorable reviews for his performance in Tea and Sympathy. Reynolds then went on tour with Tea and Sympathy, driving the bus as well as appearing on stage.
After the tour Reynolds returned to New York and enrolled in acting classes. His classmates included Frank Gifford, Carol Lawrence, Red Buttons and Jan Murray. After a botched improvisation in acting class, Reynolds briefly considered returning to Florida, but he soon got a part in a revival of Mister Roberts, with Charlton Heston as the star. After the play closed, the director, John Forsythe, arranged a movie audition with Josh Logan for Reynolds. The movie was Sayonara, and Reynolds was told he couldn't be in the movie because he looked too much like Marlon Brando. Logan advised Reynolds to go to Hollywood, but Reynolds did not feel confident enough to do so.
Reynolds worked odd jobs while waiting for acting opportunities. He waited tables, washed dishes, drove a delivery truck and worked as a bouncer at the Roseland Ballroom. It was while working as a dockworker that Reynolds was offered $150 to jump through a glass window on a live television show.
He made his Broadway debut in Look, We've Come Through. Reynolds first starred on television with Darren McGavin in the 1959-1961 NBC series, Riverboat. In 1960-1961, he appeared in two episodes of the syndicated series The Blue Angels, about elite fliers of the United States Navy. That same season, he guest starred in the syndicated crime drama, The Brothers Brannagan in the episode "Bordertown". Reynolds went on to appear in a number of other shows, including a role as blacksmith/ defacto depute, and half-Native American Quint Asper on CBS's Gunsmoke from 1962-1965. On June 11, 1959, he appeared as Tony Sapio with Ruta Lee as Gloria Fallon in the episode entitled "The Payoff" of NBC's 1920s crime drama, The Lawless Years. In 1962 Reynolds secured a guest appearance on Perry Mason in "The Case of the Counterfeit Crank".
His film debut was in 1961, in the movie Angel Baby. At the urging of friend Clint Eastwood, Reynolds used his TV fame to secure leading roles in overseas low budget films, commonly called "Spaghetti Westerns". (Eastwood advised Reynolds from experience, as he had done the same). Reynolds first Spaghetti Western, Navajo Joe, came out in 1966. These low budget starring roles established Reynolds as a bankable leading man in movies, and earned him starring roles in American big-budget motion pictures. During this period, he starred in two short-lived cop shows: Hawk and Dan August. He disparaged these shows, telling Johnny Carson that Dan August had "two forms of expression: mad and supermad." His breakout performance in Deliverance in 1972 made him a star. The same year, Reynolds gained notoriety when he posed naked in the April (Vol. 172, No. 4) issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Reynolds claims he was offered the role of James Bond by producer Albert R. Broccoli, after Sean Connery left the franchise. Reynolds turned the role down, saying "An American can't play James Bond. It just can't be done." In 1973, he released the album Ask Me What I Am. He would also sing with Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Reynolds appeared on ABC's The American Sportsman hosted by outdoors journalist Grits Gresham, who took celebrities on hunting, fishing, and shooting trips around the world.
On March 15, 1978, Reynolds earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in the same year built a dinner theatre in Jupiter, Florida. His celebrity was such that he drew not only big-name stars to appear in productions but sell-out audiences as well. He sold the venue in the early 1990s.
In the 1980s, after Smokey and the Bandit, he became typecast in similar, less well-done and less successful movies. Comedian and actor Robert Wuhl, in a standup act in the late 80s, said that "Burt Reynolds makes so many bad movies, when someone else makes a bad movie Burt gets a royalty!" He had his hand at producing a television show with friend Bert Convy in 1987, Win, Lose or Draw. He even appeared as a celebrity gameplayer in a few episodes of the show.
During the first half of the 1990s, he was the star of the CBS television series Evening Shade, for which he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1991).
Despite much success, Reynolds' finances were bad, due in part to an extravagant lifestyle, a messy divorce from Loni Anderson (see below), and failed investments in some Florida restaurant chains; consequently, in 1996, Reynolds filed for bankruptcy. The filing was under Chapter 11, from which Reynolds emerged two years later.
Reynolds started a comeback with the movie Striptease in 1996, and the critically acclaimed Boogie Nights, in 1997, put his career back on track. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Boogie Nights and won a Golden Globe Award for the movie. He was considered a front-runner for the Supporting Oscar, but ultimately lost to Robin Williams, who won it for his role in Good Will Hunting.
In early 2000, he created and toured Burt Reynolds' One Man Show. In 2002, he lent his voice to the character Avery Carrington in the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
In 2005, he co-starred in two remakes: the first released was of The Longest Yard, this time with Adam Sandler playing the role of Paul Crewe, the role Reynolds had played in the 1974 original. This time around, Reynolds took on the role of Nate Scarborough. The irony in Reynolds' participation in the remake was that his role in the 1974 original garnered him a Golden Globe nomination "Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical/Comedy", while his role in the remake saw him receive a Razzie Award nomination for "Worst Supporting Actor". The second remake he participated in was of the hit 1980s TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, as Boss Hogg.
He starred in the audio book version of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. In May 2006, Reynolds began appearing in Miller Lite beer commercials. In 2007 at the World Stuntman Awards he was awarded the Taurus Lifetime Achievement Award. While presenting him with the award Arnold Schwarzenegger referred to him as the greatest of the great.
Richard Clayton, who worked as Reynolds' agent and personal manager for twenty-two years, died on September 29, 2008.
Although Reynolds had already made eleven films, his performance as Lewis, the macho Atlanta businessman in John Boorman's 1972 film adaptation of James Dickey's novel Deliverance, signaled the beginning of his box-office popularity. Hailed as one of the year's best films, Deliverance is the story of four suburbanites' harrowing journey into Appalachian Georgia. Filmed on Georgia's Chattooga River, Deliverance also marked the beginning of Reynolds's devotion to making films in and about the South.
The following year Reynolds was persuaded to play the role of a moonshiner in the film White Lightning after the filmmakers promised to shoot in the South. White Lightning, which was filmed in Arkansas, broke attendance records nationwide, and the film's success encouraged Hollywood studios to make more southern films. In 1976 Reynolds both starred in and made his directorial debut with Gator, the sequel to White Lightning. Deciding to shoot Gator entirely in Georgia, Reynolds announced that "I have this violent urge to get behind the camera... I want to say some nice things about the South."
In 1974 Reynolds starred in the memorable and well-received The Longest Yard, which was filmed at the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville. In the film Reynolds portrays a former NFL star quarterback who is sent to prison and then forced to put together a football team composed of fellow inmates to compete in a life-and-death football game against the sadistic warden's own semi-pro team made up of his sadistic prison guards. Many inmates served as extras and helped to construct the sets, including a football field that was given to the prison after filming was complete. Governor Jimmy Carter played a key role in the orchestration of the project and, according to Reynolds, promised that he "would personally come in and take me out if anything happened." The remake of the film, remade in 2005 with Reynolds this time in the role of Coach Nate Scarborough was popular with audiences, but not with critics.
During the next few years Reynolds continued his pattern of choosing southern-themed films that were often shot, at least partially, in the South. In the 1975 film W. W. and the Dixie Dance Kings, filmed in Nashville, Tennessee, he played the fast-talking, gas station robbing manager of a group of country musicians whose collective dream is to one day play the Grand Ole Opry. Two years later, Smokey and the Bandit perhaps showcased Reynolds at his apex in this period. As "The Bandit", Reynolds appears completely in his element and humorous Southern charm as a smooth-talking, fast-driving, law-evading modern-day Southern outlaw. The film also featured legendary comedian Jackie Gleason as Reynolds' would-be foil, as well as popular Georgia country singer-songwriter-musician Jerry Reed. It was and remains one of Reynolds' best-known and well-loved films. Filmed entirely in Georgia, the successful comedy was followed in 1980 by Smokey and the Bandit II, which was filmed partially in Georgia and Florida.
Reynolds's next film, The Cannonball Run, was shot almost entirely in Georgia, referred to as "Burt's good luck state" by the director, Hal Needham. That same year Reynolds directed and starred in Sharky's Machine. Filmed entirely in Atlanta, the movie features Reynolds as a narcotics officer investigating the murder of a prostitute in the city.
During these years, Reynolds starred in a number of other notable films, including The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, Semi-Tough, The End (which he also directed), Starting Over and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
At various points in his life, Reynolds was romantically involved with Tammy Wynette, Lucie Arnaz, Adrienne Barbeau, Susan Clark, Sally Field, Lorna Luft, Tawny Little, Pam Seals, Dinah Shore and Chris Evert. His relationship with Shore garnered particular attention given the fact she was 20 years his senior. Reynolds was married to actress/comedienne Judy Carne from 1963 to 1965, and actress Loni Anderson from 1988 to 1993, with whom he adopted a son, Quinton Anderson Reynolds (born August 31, 1988). E! Online reports that he dated Kate Edelman Johnson from 2003 to 2005.
On July 3, 1982, Reynolds lived out one of his dreams by once again getting involved with a sport that still holds a certain soft spot in his heart, by becoming a co-owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits, a professional football team in the USFL whose nickname was inspired by his then-recent Smokey and the Bandit movies. Other owners included John Bassett, a Canadian movie producer, and Stephen Arky, an attorney from Miami. Reynolds was a general partner of the team from 1982 to 1985, the entire existence of the USFL. The team held a winning record in every year. In 1983 they went 11-7-0 in the Central Division but did not make the playoffs. In 1984 they went 14-4-0 in the Southern Division and lost in the conference semifinals to the Birmingham Stallions 36-17. In 1985 they went 10-8-0 in the Eastern Conference but lost in the quarterfinals to the Oakland Invaders 30-27.
Reynolds also co-owned a NASCAR Winston Cup team with Hal Needham, which ran the #33 Skoal Bandits car, with driver Harry Gant.
Burt Reynolds was selected as the special guest ring announcer for the main event of WrestleMania X.