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End Credits #85: Cinema's 2018 Lost Treasures Burt Reynolds

 

Noted actor and director, the charismatic Burt Reynolds (February 11, 1936 - September 6, 2018) has died at age 82. 

 

Guest contributor Bob DiMucci has provided this tribute to his career:

 

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The Films of Burt Reynolds

 

 

 

 

 

After a few guest shots on television shows, Burt Reynolds got his first recurring role in a series co-starring opposite Darren McGavin in "Riverboat". The hour-long NBC adventure series was set on the Enterprise, a riverboat which plied the Mississippi during the 1840s. McGavin was "Captain Grey Holden," and Reynolds played pilot "Ben Frazer." (Dan Duryea had played "Captain Brad Turner" in the first two episodes, before being replaced by McGavin.)

The early Sunday evening series was counter-programming against CBS' "Lassie", so it was renewed for a second season. Reynolds and McGavin, however, did not get along, and Reynolds was replaced by Noah Beery, Jr. for "Riverboat"'s second and final season.

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Burt Reynolds made his feature film debut in 1961's ANGEL BABY. Set in the American South, the film found evangelist "Paul Strand" (George Hamilton) meeting a beautiful, young mute named "Jenny" (Salome Jens), affectionately known as "Angel Baby." When Paul prays for her, Jenny's voice miraculously returns ... and the two fall in love, sparking jealousy in Paul's older wife (Mercedes McCambridge) and Jenny's predatory lover (Reynolds).

In discussing the film, Burt Reynolds remarked, "The toughest part about ANGEL BABY was doing a fight scene with George Hamilton, who at the time was a contender for the title of World's Most Uncoordinated Human Being. Yet he had to beat me up, something that was almost impossible for him to fake. In the dumbest fight scene ever, he sort of lifted me, and I leaped into the bushes, hoping it looked like I was thrown. But it just looked like he lifted me and I'd jumped."

Hubert Cornfield, the film's original director, was replaced by Paul Wendkos after a week of filming due to disagreements with producer Thomas F. Woods. The film's score, by Wayne Shanklin, has not had a release.

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ARMORED COMMAND is set in northeastern France, during World War II, where a U. S. Army patrol finds a wounded girl, "Alexandra" (Tina Louise), lying on a road in the Vosges Mountains. While the patrol stays in the area looking for Germans, sergeant "Mike" (Earl Holliman) and private "Skee" (Burt Reynolds) vie for the girl's attentions.

Noted Reynolds: ARMORED COMMAND was "one of the first pictures in which Howard Keel had a non-singing role. He should've sung; we needed all the help we could get." Byron Haskin directed the 1961 film, which had an unreleased score by Bert Grund.

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In 1961, "Gunsmoke", which had been a half-hour series since its inception in 1955, expanded to an hour. The following year, the producers decided that the show needed another strong male character to take some of the acting load off of James Arness' "Matt Dillon". Burt Reynolds was brought into the show as "Quint Asper," a half-breed blacksmith. Reynolds stayed for three seasons, after which he was replaced by Roger Ewing as townsman "Thad Greenwood."

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  Amanda Blake, Burt Reynolds, and Milburn Stone in "Gunsmoke"

Amanda Blake, Burt Reynolds, and Milburn Stone in "Gunsmoke"

In his first lead role, agent Burt Reynolds in sent to investigate the murder of a fellow agent in Saigon in 1965's OPERATION C.I.A. Paul Dunlap scored this Allied Artists release, which was directed by Christian Nyby. Here's the trailer:

 

Reynolds said that OPERATION C.I.A., "looked every inch of its $70,000 budget. The heavy was played by the hotel bell hop, because he had a deep voice. The prop man screwed up once and used live ammo. I fought a cobra that hadn't been milked of its poison. And near the end, I did a fight scene in a river that was contaminated with pollutants. Perhaps it wouldn't have mattered even if I'd had a spleen to purify my blood. As it was, the toxins got in to my system and went to town."

After filming that fight scene, Reynolds went to Alabama to participate in a march with Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr. One day he woke up in the hospital, with lymph glands the size of softballs. At first it was assumed he had Hodgkin's disease. Finally it was revealed his mystery illness was schistosomiasis - snail eggs in the bloodstream. By luck the cure was only discovered two years earlier.

Reynolds called OPERATION C.I.A. " my worst film ever. If it played on a plane, people would be killed trying to jump out."

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Burt Reynolds only agreed to make NAVAJO JOE because he was under the impression that Sergio Leone would be directing. When he found out it was Sergio Corbucci, he tried to pull out, but the contracts had already been signed and it was too late. For his part, when Corbucci was approached to make the film, Marlon Brando was touted as the star. By the time production started, the lead had been given to Burt Reynolds. (Although Corbucci is in the upper tier of Eurowestern directors, having helmed DJANGO, THE GREAT SILENCE, and THE MERCENARY, NAVAJO JOE is not among his best films.)

The first day of shooting, Reynolds reached the location, in the Spanish desert in Almeria, dressed as a Native American and wearing a red-haired wig. It was raining, so Sergio Corbucci suggested that Reynolds go for a walk around the area. During the walk, Reynolds met a young Spanish boy who asked if he was a Native American. He walked with the boy to a small Spanish town and he was invited for a drink by the boy's family in their house. When Reynolds returned to the set, the film crew was gone; they had left him in the desert, so he had to spend the night with the young boy's family. Next morning, Reynolds was a bit angry with the crew, but that seemed very funny to Corbucci. That incident set the tone for Reynolds' and Corbucci's relationship: they did not get along at all.

In the film, Reynolds plays a Native American warrior called "Navajo Joe" who seeks revenge on a gang of sadistic outlaws who have massacred the people of his tribe.

Producer Dino De Laurentiis made NAVAJO JOE with the intention of replicating the success of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964) after that movie had become a box-office hit in Europe. De Laurentiis wanted to find an American actor to rival Clint Eastwood's popularity. Burt Reynolds had appeared in TV westerns and was part Cherokee Indian, and De Laurentiis persuaded him to sign on.

Although the film was released in Europe in late 1966, U.S. distributor United Artists kept it off of American screens until December 1967, after the first two Clint Eastwood "Dollars" films had been released in the U.S. Ennio Morricone's score received its most complete release in 2007 from Film Score Monthly.

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For his screen test for ABC network President Tom Miller, for the television series "Hawk", Burt Reynolds did a scene with Louise Sorrell as a psychiatrist, and Gene Hackman as the heavy. Once Reynolds had the role and production started, the pilot episode featured Sorrell and Hackman. In the show, Reynolds starred as Iroquois detective John Hawk of the New York City District Attorney's office.

The show was filmed on the streets of New York City, as opposed to a studio lot. Things looked so real, that one night three NYPD cops joined in one scene and billy clubbed three extras they mistook for fleeing thieves. The last three days of each week, Burt Reynolds worked round the clock on the show. He would be up all night with one crew, then do another twelve hours with a second crew. He never billed the studio for the overtime, as he believed the studio would not have been able to afford the show if he had. All this for a reported $6,000 a week in salary.

Upon its debut on 8 September 1966, the show received good critical notices, but pulled up short in the ratings against "The Dean Martin Show" (#14 in the ratings) and the "CBS Thursday Night Movie" (#29). The show was canceled after 17 episodes.

   Burt Reynolds as "Hawk"


Burt Reynolds as "Hawk"

omeone had the idea to make a film about the making of a film, at the same time that a real film was being made. In 1967's FADE-IN, Barbara Loden stars as "Jean," a Hollywood assistant film editor who romances a cowboy called "Rob" (Burt Reynolds) who is working as a driver on her movie, the actual 1968 film BLUE that starred Terence Stamp, Joanna Pettet, Ricardo Montalban and Sally Kirkland, all of whom appear in the background.

Director Jud Taylor demanded his name be taken off the picture after Paramount’s major re-cutting without his involvement. Thus, FADE-IN became the first film to use the Directors Guild of America "Alan Smithee" pseudonym. After bad reactions at sneak previews, Paramount left the film on the shelf for six years and finally sold it to CBS TV, who screened it as a TV premiere on 8 November 1973. Reynolds, who tried to buy the movie while it was on the shelf, opined: "It should have been called 'Fade-Out.'"

The producer of FADE-IN, Silvio Narizzano, directed BLUE on the same Utah locations, beautifully shot by William A Fraker. FADE-IN was scored by Ken Lauber.

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The 29 August 1967 Los Angeles Times announced that Dean Martin and Robert Mitchum would co-star in the upcoming western 5 CARD STUD. On the same day, a Daily Variety news brief stated that Burt Reynolds had met with producer Hal Wallis to discuss playing the role of a “heavy,” but had turned it down. Instead, Reynolds signed on to co-star in a western for producer Marvin Schwartz, 100 RIFLES.

Set in 1912 in Sonora, Mexico, native revolutionary "Yaqui Joe" (Reynolds) robs a bank to buy arms for his oppressed people (who include the beautiful Indian "Sarita" (Raquel Welch)), but finds himself sought by an American lawman (Jim Brown) and the Mexican Army.

Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch fell out while making the film. Three years later, they both starred in FUZZ (1972). However, Welch only agreed to do the picture after it was agreed that she would not have to appear in any scenes with Reynolds. They would remain enemies until 1982 when the producers of CANNERY ROW fired Welch claiming she was unprofessional, and replaced her with Debra Winger. Reynolds testified on her behalf stating "Although Raquel and I don't like each other, she was always on time, well-prepared, and thoroughly professional." She ended up winning $10.8 million.

Chuck Roberson (John Wayne's longtime stunt man) was meant to double for Jim Brown on some of the riskier stunts in the film, with director Tom Gries planning to put black-face on him. Burt Reynolds would not perform with him, deeming it improper and stated "Those days are gone, you better get a black stuntman here right now." When the production manager stated it was not in the budget, and "Fox would never go for it", Reynolds paid $500 out of his own pocket to pay for a black stuntman.

While filming a fight on the top of a cliff, Jim Brown mentioned to Reynolds that he wasn't too keen on being so close to the edge of a serious drop. Reynolds replied, "If we fall, the newspapers will say 'Jim Brown and unknown actor die'".

Film Score Monthly released Jerry Goldsmith's score to the film in 1999. It was re-issued by La-La Land earlier this year.

  Raquel Welch, Burt Reynolds, and Jim Brown in "100 RIFLES"

Raquel Welch, Burt Reynolds, and Jim Brown in "100 RIFLES"

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Burt Reynolds and Clint Walker co-starred in the 1969 comedy western SAM WHISKEY. Shortly after the Civil War, "Sam Whiskey" (Reynolds), a gambler and adventurer, is seduced into helping "Laura Breckenridge" (Angie Dickinson) retrieve a quarter of a million dollars in stolen gold bars from a sunken riverboat in Colorado's Platte River. After teaming up with "Jedidiah Hooker" (Ossie Davis), a local blacksmith, and "O.W. Bandy" (Walker), an Army friend turned inventor, Sam heads for the sunken riverboat.

When asked about this movie, Burt Reynolds stated "It was way ahead of its time. I was playing light comedy and nobody cared."

After the film wrapped shooting, Reynolds kept a photo of himself from the film. The still was of the bedroom scene between he and Angie Dickinson. Reynolds had the photo blown up and then hung it over the top of his bar at his house. A caption was added to the picture. It read: "An actor's life is pure hell?".

Arnold Laven directed the film, which had an unreleased score by Herschel Burke Gilbert.

   Burt Reynolds and Clint Walker in SAM WHISKEY


Burt Reynolds and Clint Walker in SAM WHISKEY

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In 1969's IMPASSE, adventurer "Pat Morrison" (Burt Reynolds) learns that $3,000,000 in gold was hidden from the Japanese invaders of Corregidor during the early days of World War II, and he decides to go after the loot.

Filmed in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, Burt Reynolds was actually beaten up when people didn't realize a movie was being filmed. Reynolds recounts "I told the guy ahead of me to knock down anything and keep going. He ran into a marketplace that wasn't blocked off. They didn't know it was shooting because the camera was far away with a zoom lens. He began knocking down old ladies as he ran, and before I knew it I was surrounded by six big Filipinos who beat the living hell out of me. They left the beating in the final print."

Burt Reynolds said "The pay was the pits, but I figured I was discovering a new part of the world- which sometimes helps you discovers new parts of yourself." "The title was my career at the time. It was a rough period."

Co-star Miko Mayama was Reynolds' live in girlfriend for four years, until he fell for Dinah Shore. When they split up, he gave Miko an apartment at the beach, a Cadillac convertible, and a promise to pay her $500 a week for two years. Exactly one day before the two year deadline was up, Miko married Barbra Streisand's manager.

Richard Benedict directed the film, which has an unreleased score by Philip Springer.

   Burt Reynolds and Miko Mayama in IMPASSE


Burt Reynolds and Miko Mayama in IMPASSE

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Reynolds worked with legendary director Samuel Fuller in 1969's SHARK. In the film, when a gunrunner (Reynolds) loses his cargo near a small coastal Sudanese town,he's stuck there. A woman (Silvia Pinal) hires him to raid a sunken ship in the shark-infested waters, and he sees a chance to compensate for his losses. But he's not the only one who has an interest in the wreck.

The film's original title was "Caine", after the main character's name, but the producers decided to change the title so it would sound like a killer animal movie, in order to draw younger crowds.

This film gained some infamy at the time of its release because of the death of one of its stuntmen. He was killed on camera while working with what was supposed to be a sedated shark when a white shark bit through the protective netting and attacked him. When the production company used the death to help promote the film, director Samuel Fuller, who had been clashing with the producers on a wide variety of issues relating to the film, quit the production. When he finally saw the version that was released to theaters, he said they had butchered it so badly while editing it that it was no longer recognizable as his film and demanded that his name be taken off of it, but the producers refused.

The film has an unreleased score by Carlos Moroyoqui.

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SKULLDUGGERY was a 1970 film based upon a 1952 novel, “Les animaux denatures,” by Vercors. During the late 1960s, producer Saul David had a string of successes at 20th Century Fox, with the James Coburn FLINT films, VON RYAN’S EXPRESS, and FANTASTIC VOYAGE. SKULLDUGGERY was his first film for Universal. Nelson Gidding (THE HAUNTING, 1963; LOST COMMAND, 1966) was hired to script the film, and Richard Wilson (INVITATION TO A GUNFIGHTER, 1964; 3 IN THE ATTIC, 1968) was brought on to direct. But one week into production, Wilson was replaced by Gordon Douglas, who had directed IN LIKE FLINT for Saul David. Oliver Nelson composed the music for the film, the second of only three features that he scored.

SKULLDUGGERY follows an adventurer looking for phosphorous deposits, played by Burt Reynolds, and an archeologist, played by Susan Clark, as they explore New Guinea. The group discovers an ape-man tribe, which they name the Tropis. They feel they must take action, however, when the financier of the expedition decides to breed the Tropis and sell them as slaves. Location scenes for SKULLDUGGERY were filmed in New Guinea and Jamaica.

SKULLDUGGERY opened in New York on 11 March 1970, whereupon Roger Greenspun of the New York Times blasted the film as consisting of “stock footage so venerable it seems to light a hundred memories of jungle adventure, grade C. In manner and feeling, it recalls the febrile luxury of the 3 P.M. movie on Saturday television, while everybody else is out ruining his mind with team sports, fresh air and sunshine.” Further, Greenspun declared that when the “utterly unimportant plot” began addressing “man's misuse of man from the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution until last week,” “what had been acceptably awful becomes unacceptably awful, as SKULLDUGGERY stumbles up to the histrionics of Hollywood humanism.”

Greenspun acknowledged, however, that “From time to time the dialogue produces a gleam of wit unearned by Gordon Douglas's dull direction. Susan Clark has an elegant manner and a pleasing face that suggests she could actually hold the Ph.D. her roles seem always to credit her with.”

Time Out magazine was a little more forgiving of SKULLDUGGERY, seeing it as an “engagingly ramshackle adventure” with a “rousingly melodramatic courtroom finale.” “Naïve, uncertain in tone,” said Time Out, “but despite all faults, an appealing curiosity.” Leonard Maltin, however, probably represents the consensus on the film, giving it one and a half stars and calling it “unusual but unsuccessful.” Maltin also claims that the “author had his name removed from the credits,” but his name appears on the one-sheet below.

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Burt Reynolds claimed "nobody knew how to sell the picture" and that resulted in its failure at the box office.
Here is the film’s trailer:

Burt Reynolds' third bid at network television stardom came with the 1970 police series "Dan August", "A Quinn Martin Production." Set in Santa Luisa, California, the hour-long series saw Reynolds playing "Lt. Dan August," a tough young cop. Co-starring were Norman Fell as "Detective Sergeant Charles Wilentz," Richard Anderson as "Chief George Untermeyer," Ned Romero as "Detective Joe Rivera," and Ena Hartman as "Katy Grant," department secretary. Romero was the only series regular to appear in the original "Dan August" TV movie pilot "House on Greenapple Road." (1970).

The series premiered on ABC on Wednesday, 23 September 1970 at 10 PM. Unfortunately, it aired opposite the #7 rated show on television at the time, "Hawaii Five-0." "Dan August" couldn't build an audience and was canceled after one season.

When Burt Reynolds became a popular success in the early 1970s, CBS acquired the series and re-ran it in 1973 and 1975 with great success. Numerous segments were also merged into two-hour television movies and aired in syndication in 1980 under various titles: "The Killing Affairs", "The Lady Killers", "The Jealousy Factor", "The Relative Solution", "The Trouble With Women", "Murder, My Friend" and "Double Jeopardy" (a.k.a. "Once is Never Enough").

  The cast of "Dan August": (clockwise from top left) Richard Anderson, Norman Fell, Ena Hartman, Burt Reynolds, and Ned Romero.

The cast of "Dan August": (clockwise from top left) Richard Anderson, Norman Fell, Ena Hartman, Burt Reynolds, and Ned Romero.


Ed McBain's 1968 novel Fuzz, then the most recent of his popular "87th Precinct" crime novels set in a mythical American big city, was initially purchased for $125,000, considered a high price at the time for film rights to a crime novel. Although some plot points differed from McBain's novel, the film adaptation of FUZZ loosely follows the book. Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch starred as Boston police detectives “Steve Carella” and “Eileen McHenry.”

Raquel Welch did not like Burt Reynolds because of comments he made while they were filming 100 RIFLES that she considered unsavory. So in this movie, Welch insisted that she not have any direct scenes with Reynolds. For their four scenes "together," Welch's double stood in the wide shots with Burt, and after he did his close ups, got in his car, and drove off the lot, they called Welch. She drove on the set, and Reynolds's double repeated the same actions with her.

Burt Reynolds almost suffered serious burns to his face, while doing his own stunt. During a scene in which he is set on fire, out of control flames whipped up his asbestos lined coat sleeve, around his neck, and along the back of his head. This cut made it into the movie.

FUZZ opened shortly after Burt Reynolds' appearance as a smiling, strategically posed nude centerfold in the April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. (Hence his depiction on the poster below.) The centerfold became a popular cultural icon of the 1970s, and many film historians, as well as Reynolds himself, have mentioned the centerfold as one factor in his attaining international stardom. In 1973, Reynolds became one of the top ten box office stars in the world and remained on the list throughout the 1970s.

Richard A. Colla directed the 1972 film, which had an unreleased score by Dave Grusin. As the end credits roll, "I'll Be Seeing You," sung by Dinah Shore, is heard on the soundtrack. At the time of the film's release, Shore and Burt Reynolds had a well-known romantic relationship.

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In 1972's DELIVERANCE, four Atlanta businessmen (played by Jon Voight, Ronny Cox, Ned Beatty, and Burt Reynolds) embark on a canoeing trip through a river in deep Georgia. The reason for their trip is that the local power company is planning to dam the river, making it into a giant lake. Knowing that this will be the last time they will get to see the river, the group decides to take that last opportunity.

Director John Boorman originally wanted Lee Marvin and Marlon Brando to play "Ed" and "Lewis," respectively. After reading the script, Marvin said he and Brando were too old, and suggested that Boorman use younger actors instead. Boorman agreed, and cast Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds.

When Boorman was looking for an actor to play the toothless hillbilly, Burt Reynolds suggested Herbert "Cowboy" Coward, who had no front teeth, was illiterate, and stuttered. Reynolds had previously worked with Coward in a Wild West show in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

Burt Reynolds' "Lewis" is a man who has honed his skills as an outdoorsman and is convinced that in the future, only those with the skill to survive against nature will prevail. Author James Dickey gave Reynolds a few days of bow and arrow lessons. By the end, Reynolds was quite proficient. Reynolds described Dickey as "a guy who when he's had a couple of martinis you want to drop a grenade down his throat."

Burt Reynolds broke his coccyx (tailbone) while going down the rapids when the canoe capsized. Originally, a cloth dummy was used, but it looked too fake, like a dummy going over a waterfall. So Reynolds decided to attempt the stunt himself. While Reynolds recovered, he asked, "How did it look?" Director John Boorman replied, "Like a dummy going over a waterfall."

DELIVERANCE received Academy Award nominations in the categories of Best Picture, Director (John Boorman) and Film Editor (Tom Priestley), and was included in numerous "top ten" lists. Burt Reynolds later called this "the best film I've ever been in," but believed that his nude centerfold in Cosmopolitan Magazine cost the film a Best Picture Oscar. Reynolds kept one of the canoes used in the film at the Burt Reynolds Museum, which was located at 100 North U.S. Highway 1, in Jupiter, Florida.

"Duelling Banjos," the melody arranged and played by Eric Weissberg with Steve Mandel, became a hit record. Weissberg, who was one of the country's leading banjo players, won a Grammy and two gold records for "Duelling Banjos" and the sporadic bluegrass score for the picture. A 15 March 1973 Rolling Stone news item erroneously reported that Weissberg played the guitar and Marshall Brickman played the banjo during the duet. Despite the song's title, within the film, the "duel" is actually between a guitar and a banjo.

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EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX* (*But Were Afraid To Ask) took its title from a 1969 best seller of the same name. The 1972 comedy had one of writer-director Woody Allen’s typical ensemble casts, which included Tony Randall, Lynn Redgrave, and Burt Reynolds. In a segment that shows the inside controls of a man's body as he gets ready to have sex with a date, Burt Reynolds and Tony Randall help run the master control room.

According to Burt Reynolds, Woody Allen never spoke to him on set. Atypically for an Allen film, there was an original score by Mundell Lowe, which was released by Kritzerland in 2009.

  Tony Randall and Burt Reynolds

Tony Randall and Burt Reynolds

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In 1973's SHAMUS, New York private eye "Shamus McCoy" (Burt Reynolds) likes girls, drink, and gambling, but by the look of his apartment, business can't be too hot. So an offer of $10,000 to find some diamonds stolen in a daring raid with a flame-thrower is too good to pass up. His investigations soon get pretty complicated and rather dangerous. At least along the way he does get to meet "Alexis Montaigne' (Dyan Cannon).

The casting of Burt Reynolds in the lead title role was determined by director Buzz Kulik and producer Robert Weitman based on Reynolds' earlier films that predated his then recent big box-office success from DELIVERANCE. He was sought for SHAMUS prior to the release of that hit movie. (Production on SHAMUS began on 10 April 1972, while DELIVERANCE wan't released until August of that year.) After Reynolds read the movie's screenplay he promptly told Kulik and Weitman: "I want to do it!". The script was writer Barry Beckerman's first screenplay.

Before she said yes to doing the movie and playing Alexis, actress Dyan Cannon flew to Chicago to see her potential leading man Reynolds performing in a play and to meet him. The very next day when she flew back to Hollywood she signed onto the picture.

In his autobiography "My Life" (1994), Burt Reynolds said of working with his co-star Dyan Cannon: "As Dyan and I walked down Broadway one afternoon, a guy stopped us and asked for a picture. A camera dangled around his neck. 'Well, okay,' I said. Grinning broadly, he put his arm around Dyan and handed me the camera."

Due to the presence of star Burt Reynolds, the NYPD estimated that three thousand onlookers, mainly women and teenagers, attended the first day of principal photography in Brooklyn.

It was reported by Boxoffice that Burt Reynolds performed all of his own stunts, except for one done by Charles Picerni, who played “Thug 2” in the film. But that was not true. There is a shot in the movie where Reynolds grabs a tree branch during a chase scene, it breaks and he falls to the ground. That was not planned. The branch broke accidentally during filming and the footage looked so good, they kept it in the film. This particular stunt was performed by stuntman Hal Needham. He subsequently suffered a concussion when he hit the ground.

During the filming of SHAMUS, a July 1972 Daily Variety article had mentioned Roger Moore, Burt Reynolds, and Paul Newman as contenders for the role of Jame Bond, after both Sean Connery and George Lazenby had bowed out of the series.

Jerry Goldsmith's score for SHAMUS (his second for a Reynolds picture) has not been released.

  Kay Frye and Burt Reynolds in SHAMUS

Kay Frye and Burt Reynolds in SHAMUS

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As THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING opens, an English woman, "Catherine 'Cat' Crocker" (Sarah Miles), dressed in a proper riding habit rides through the desert in an attempt to run away from her husband, "Willard Crocker" (George Hamilton). Meanwhile, train robber "Jay Grobart" (Burt Reynolds) boards the train at Wamsutter while his accomplice, "Billy Bowan" (Bo Hopkins), wedges dynamite into the rails down the tracks.

Screenwriter Eleanor Perry wrote the script based upon author Marilyn Durham's 1972 novel. The author wrote the book with Lee Van Cleef in mind for the lead, but it was turned into a Burt Reynolds vehicle. This 1973 film was Burt Reynolds' first-ever screen love-story.

Both during and after principal photography, the production was plagued by problems, some of which garnered international headlines. On 11 February 1973, the body of twenty-six-year-old David A. Whiting, the manager of lead actress Sarah Miles, was found dead in the bathroom of Miles's Gila Bend, AZ motel room. An inquest into the death was called and, although news items reported that both Miles and Burt Reynolds refused to testify, Whiting's mother successfully pursued a court order to compel them to testify.

Much of the testimony of Reynolds and Miles was quoted in the press, leading to speculation about the details surrounding the death. Jurors at the inquest ruled that Whiting had died of an overdose of drugs but, according to several New York Times articles, were unable to conclude whether his death was due to suicide or an accidental overdose. Local Justice of the Peace Mulford Winsor IV stated that he was unsatisfied with the ruling and said that there were "a lot of unanswered questions" about Whiting's death, fueling even more speculation in the press, but nothing beyond the inquest's original findings were ever verified.

Several weeks after Whiting's death, the production had to shut down for a week to allow Reynolds to recuperate from an emergency hernia operation. Reynolds, who did his own stunts, injured himself during a two-day fight scene with actor Jack Warden.

The studio's proposed newspaper advertisements for the film also led to numerous articles in the press. When the publicity campaign was initiated, M-G-M, possibly in an attempt to capitalize on the notoriety of Whiting's death and rumors of a relationship between Reynolds and Miles, reportedly “sexed up” the text for the film’s ads. Reynolds objected to the fact that M-G-M executives had been informed, erroneously, that he had given approval for ad copy that read “Burt and Sarah in the torrid love story that shocked the country!” When informed of Reynolds’ objections, the ads were changed to read “Burt and Sarah in a torrid love story that shocked the Old West!”

When the film opened, despite the amount of publicity surrounding the production and Reynolds’ increasing popularity, it was not well received by the public or critics. While some reviewers praised the performances of Reynolds and Miles, as well as what was perceived as the story's pro-feminist point of view, many critics were negative, and the film did not do well at the box office.

Richard C. Sarafian directed the film. John Williams' score (and Michel Legrand's rejected score) were released by Film Score Monthly in 2002. Burt Reynolds later said of the film, "There's nothing to talk about in 'Cat Dancing' except that it brings me pain. So I'd rather not talk about it".

  Sarah Miles and Burt Reynolds in THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING

Sarah Miles and Burt Reynolds in THE MAN WHO LOVED CAT DANCING

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An ex-con (Burt Reynolds) teams up with federal agents to help them break up a moonshine ring in WHITE LIGHTNING. This was the first of the car stunt movies set in the American South that Burt Reynolds made during the 1970s and which involved some kind of battle with a sheriff or official. It was also the first Reynolds movie in which Hal Needham had a major role in production, here as second unit director.

WHITE LIGHTNING (originally titled "McKlusky") was slated to be Steven Spielberg's first theatrical feature, and he spent months on pre-production. But ultimately, Joseph Sargent was signed to direct. Charles Bernstein's score was released by Intrada in 2010.

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In 1974's THE LONGEST YARD, a sadistic prison warden (Eddie Albert) asks a former pro quarterback (Burt Reynolds), now serving time in his prison, to put together a team of inmates to take on (and get pummeled by) the guards.

Several professional football players appeared in the film. Mike Henry played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams. Joe Kapp played quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. Ray Nitschke was a middle linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. Pervis Atkins played for the Los Angeles Rams, Washington Redskins, and Oakland Raiders. Star Burt Reynolds had himself been a promising college football half-back for Florida State University when his career was cut short by a serious knee injury. Reportedly, Ray Nitschke, the Green Bay Packer great, played a game called "Kill the Star" while on the playing field with Burt Reynolds.

Georgia State Penitentiary prisoner Harold Morris, who had been wrongly convicted of murder and was later given a full pardon, had a part in the film as an extra. In his book "Twice Pardoned", he recalled some moments with Burt Reynolds:

  • Although prison officials strongly discouraged it, Reynolds often sat with the prisoners during meal breaks and socialized with them.

  • A photographer on the set offered to take souvenir photographs of the prisoners individually posing with Reynolds. Many of the prisoners had no money, but Reynolds told the photographer to take all the pictures the prisoners wanted and he (Reynolds) would pay for them.

  • One of the prisoners asked Reynolds where he lived. Reynolds told him he had homes in Florida and California. The prisoner then asked for his address and when Reynolds asked why, the prisoner explained that he was a career criminal about to finally get out of prison, and after a life spent stealing from people who didn't have money, he wanted to finally burglarize someone who had money.

  • Reynolds and Morris struck up a friendship during the filming, and at the end Reynolds sent personalized, autograph photos to several of Morris' relatives. He also gave Morris a Book of the Month club membership.

    Reynolds also had his family and friends get into the film. Reynolds' brother is the player wearing black jersey #65 seen running beside Reynolds in the final play of the game. Girl friend Dinah Shore and Reynolds' parents are among the spectators seated in the end zone at game's end.

    Reynolds wanted to film in his hometown of West Palm Beach, FL. but was denied permission. Despite this, he refers to it both on camera and with a sign saying "Entering West Palm Beach", but that was filmed in Savannah, GA.

    Robert Aldrich directed the film. Frank DeVol's score was released by Quartet in 2017. Although it received mixed reviews, THE LONGEST YARD was the sixteenth highest grossing film at the box office in 1974, taking in more than $10 million in North America.

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In his first attempt at a musical, Burt Reynolds played bored millionaire playboy "Michael Oliver Pritchard III" in AT LONG LAST LOVE. Director Peter Bogdanovich considered playing Pritchard himself so he could star with his then-girlfriend Cybill Shepherd. He then offered the role to Elliott Gould who turned it down before Burt Reynolds accepted it. Reynolds modified his signature mustache for this film to look more like Clark Gable's.

The 1975 film was a frothy confection using the tunes of Cole Porter. Reynolds found himself singing on at least eight different numbers, usually along with the other cast members. "Friendship", for example, was sung with Cybill Shepherd, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, and Duilio Del Prete.

During production, the film was jokingly referred to as "The Man Who Loved Tap Dancing," a play on words of the title of the Burt Reynolds movie made two years earlier, "The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing."

Artie Butler and Lionel Newman supervised and conducted the music, which was released on a two-LP set from RCA. Varese Sarabande re-issued the music on CD in 2015.

  The cast of AT LONG LAST LOVE (l. to r.): Cybill Shepherd, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, John Hillerman, Mildred Natwick, Duilio Del Prete, and Burt Reynolds.

The cast of AT LONG LAST LOVE (l. to r.): Cybill Shepherd, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, John Hillerman, Mildred Natwick, Duilio Del Prete, and Burt Reynolds.

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In W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCEKINGS, "W.W. Bright" (Burt Reynolds) is a robber with a heart of gold who travels the South of 1957 knocking off banks and gas stations owned by a corrupt businessman. When he hijacks a car, he meets an aspiring country band, the Dixie Dancekings, led by "Dixie" (Conny Van Dyke). The female lead of Dixie was originally offered to Lynn Anderson and then Dolly Parton, both of whom turned it down. One of the young actors who unsuccessfully auditioned for this film was Sylvester Stallone.

Three members of the fictional “Dixie Dancekings”—Conny Van Dyke, Jerry Reed, and Don Williams—were country music stars. Mel Tillis, another popular country music artist, portrayed a gas station attendant. Walter E. “Furry” Lewis, who portrayed “Uncle Furry,” was a well-known Memphis blues musician. His character was called “Uncle Boaz” in the novel and screenplay, but director John Avildsen told the 29 August 1974 Rolling Stone that he used Lewis’ own first name, because there was no way to “improve on a name like Furry.”

Dave Grusin scored the film, but most of the 20th Century Records LP was filed with country songs. The LP has not had a CD re-issue. The film was unsuccessful at the box office.

   Connie Van Dyke and Burt Reynolds in W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCEKINGS


Connie Van Dyke and Burt Reynolds in W.W. AND THE DIXIE DANCEKINGS

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Gene Hackman, Liza Minnelli, and Burt Reynolds play a trio of would-be rum-runners in Stanley Donen's 1975 comedy adventure LUCKY LADY. One of their nemeses is "Christy McTeague" (John Hillerman), a vicious gangster trying to monopolize the illegal whiskey trade.

Alan Ladd Jr., vice-president of Fox creative affairs, personally picked Stanley Donen to direct. Actress Liza Minnelli was first to be cast, but multiple actors turned down the male leads, and it took eighteen months to cast the film. Burt Reynolds was next to sign, followed by actor George Segal. However, Segal was replaced at the last minute by Gene Hackman, after Segal sustained a leg injury.

Donen was unhappy with the original ending he shot, which had the two male characters killed by government agents and "Claire" (Minnelli) married to a rich, but boring, business man, fondly remembering their romance. After the director had changed the character of the Coast Guard Captain, "Aaron Mosely" (Geoffrey Lewis), from a menacing figure into a buffoon, the film took on a more comic tone, and the brutal ending no longer seemed to fit.

Donen tried various fixes, including deleting the last ten minutes of the film. Then, he, Burt Reynolds and Gene Hackman flew to Rome, where Liza Minnelli was shooting A MATTER OF TIME, to film a new ending that took place ten years in the future with all three characters living together. Neither Reynolds nor Hackman requested additional payment. Dissatisfied with how the actors looked in age makeup, Donen decided to re-edit the scene with the three sailing off on their yacht. Later, in a 29 December 1975 Time interview, Reynolds complained that Minnelli “was cheated out of an Academy Award by the new ending to the movie.”

Reynolds elaborated in his autobiography, writing that Donen made a complete mess of the film during the editing process. He maintains that Liza Minnelli's work should have won her another Oscar, until it was all but ruined by Donen. On another occasion, Reynolds remarked that "In retrospect, it was a grueling film to make, one of the toughest . . . "

The soundtrack for the film was comprised of some 1930s period songs, some new tunes written for Liza Minnelli by her usual team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, and some connecting score by Ralph Burns. It was released on an Arista Records LP, which has yet to see a CD re-issue.

  Gene Hackman, Liza Minnelli, and Burt Reynolds in LUCKY LADY

Gene Hackman, Liza Minnelli, and Burt Reynolds in LUCKY LADY

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Burt Reynolds worked a second time with director Robert Aldrich in 1975's HUSTLE. The pair formed RoBurt Productions for the creation of the film. Steve Shagan's story found a Los Angeles cop (Reynolds) investigating the suspicious circumstances of a girl's apparent suicide, at the instigation of her grieving father (Ben Johnson). Catherine Deneuve co-starred as a call girl. Unlike the earlier Reynolds-Aldrich collaboration, THE LONGEST YARD, HUSTLE did not do well at the box office. Frank DeVol's score was released by Quartet in 2017.

  Burt Reynolds and Catherine Deneuve in HUSTLE

Burt Reynolds and Catherine Deneuve in HUSTLE

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Burt Reynolds made an appearance as himself in Mel Brooks' comedy about the old-time movie business SILENT MOVIE. Brooks claimed that he was able to get all of the big star cameos (Reynolds, James Caan, Liza Minnelli, Paul Newman, etc.) for $138 a day, far below their normal salaries. John Morris' score for the 1976 film was released on a United Artists LP, but has not been re-issued on CD.

  Burt Reynolds in SILENT MOVIE

Burt Reynolds in SILENT MOVIE

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Burt Reynolds made his directorial debut with 1976's GATOR, the sequel to his 1973 action film WHITE LIGHTNING. Reynolds also starred in the film as a “moonshiner” named “'Gator' McClusky". In the film, agents force a former con man (Reynolds) to help them nab a local crime boss (Jerry Reed).

As usual, Reynolds tried to work a few of his friends into the film. Watson B. Duncan III, Reynolds' favorite acting professor and mentor from his college days, has a small part as the Governor's press secretary. Richard Kiel said in his autobiography that he was also supposed to be in this movie. Burt Reynolds had, as a favor, made sure that there was a part written specially for him. In the end, Kiel was not available for the part of "Bones" when they where shooting the film. Kiel did, however, recommend his friend William Engesser for the part instead. And actor James Best, who is credited as an Assistant to the Producers, said that he was given the opportunity to rewrite the William Norton's script, at the request of Burt Reynolds, to give more character depth to Gator McClusky.

GATOR was the #25 film at the U.S. box office in 1976, grossing $11 million. Charles Bernstein's score was released on a United Artists LP. An expanded edition was released by Intrada in 2010.

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A lawyer, then a writer, then a film director, is the career path of the bashful "Leo Harrigan" (Ryan O'Neal) in the days of the NICKELODEON. But Leo has problems as well, such as being hopelessly smitten with his leading lady (Jane Hitchcock), who chooses to reward his attentions by getting herself hitched to Harrigan's vulgar leading man, "Buck Greenway" (Burt Reynolds).

NICKELODEON was Reynolds' second film for director Peter Bogdanovich. Although principal photography was scheduled to begin 6 February 1976, Columbia Pictures withdrew financing from the film, calling it, according to a one source, “a $9 million black-and-white picture.” (Bogdanovich said that his intent was to shoot in color with “a monochromatic feeling.”) Other sources placed the budget closer to $7 million, and claimed that Columbia disagreed with the director over the casting of Cybill Shepherd. The Los Angeles Times reported that Columbia’s action was prompted by its “skyrocketing budget,” which included period sets and costumes, and salaries for stars Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, and Tatum O’Neal totaling approximately $1.1 million; however, co-writer W. D. Richter stated that the project was still viable, and suggested that the current setback was an attempt by the studio to lower the stars’ salaries.

According to the 8 December 1975 Newsweek, the total budget for Bogdanovich and his three principal actors was $3 million. Newsweek also described the director’s previous two releases, both of which starred Shepherd, as “box-office disappointments,” and she was a primary reason for Columbia’s withdrawal from NICKELODEON. Bogdanovich claimed that these reports were either wrong or exaggerated. Although Shepherd was seemingly dropped from the cast, Bogdanovich denied that she had been an issue between himself and Columbia, explaining that the actress had a standing commitment to another film, and that he planned to cast an unknown in a reduced version of the role intended for Shepherd. In the end, Columbia reduced its risk by partnering with British Lion Films to produce and distribute the film.

Richard Hazard arranged and conducted some period songs for the 1976 film's score, which was not released.

  Tatum O'Neal and Burt Reynolds

Tatum O'Neal and Burt Reynolds

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The premise for Hal Needham's story SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT was based on the real-life unavailability of Coors Banquet Beer outside the eleven Western and Southwestern U. S. states where it was sanctioned to be sold at the time. Coors was not pasteurized, contained no preservatives, and therefore required refrigerated delivery trucks; the family-owned Adolph Coors Co. reportedly had no intention of expanding distribution east of Oklahoma. Special air deliveries of the beverage were famously made to President Dwight Eisenhower at the White House in Washington, D.C., and a man named Frederick Amon was convicted of transporting the beverage from Dallas, TX, to Charlotte, NC, where he sold it to vendors for as much as one dollar per can.

In the film, "The Bandit" (Burt Reynolds) is hired on to run a tractor trailer full of beer over state lines, in hot pursuit by a pesky sheriff (Jackie Gleason). Richard Boone was also considered for the role of the sheriff. Burt Reynolds wanted someone "a little crazier, a little more dangerous, and a lot funnier" than Richard Boone, so he suggested Gleason. Gleason's character, "Buford T. Justice," was the name of a real Florida Highway Patrolman known to Burt Reynolds' father who was once Chief of Police of Jupiter, Florida.

Burt Reynolds decided to give friend Hal Needham his first break directing SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. Reynolds noted Needham’s qualifications, including his “fabulous taste” and earlier successes as a second unit director and stunt coordinator. The film was also one of a handful of pictures that Burt Reynolds made with his 1970s girlfriend Sally Field. In every movie they made together, Field played Reynolds' girlfriend. Field says Reynolds wanted her for the role of "Carrie" after being smitten with Field for some time, since her TV debut on "Gidget". Field says she decided to do the part because it allowed her to be light and pretty, a big departure from her most recent role on television as the troubled "Sybil" (1976).

Reynolds said that a senior executive at Pontiac promised him a free Trans-Am if the movie became a hit. It did and the 1977 T-Top Trans-Am became one of the hottest selling cars of the year. Consequently, Reynolds expected the executive to come through on his promise. But the Trans-Am never came. After a few months, Reynolds, (who was afraid of looking like one of those pretentious stars looking for freebies), finally called Pontiac. As it turned out, the executive that made the promise had retired and the new executive refused to keep the promise that was made by the previous Pontiac Trans-Am executive.

SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT was a big hit, being the second-highest grossing film of 1977 (behind STAR WARS). The score by Bill Justis (along with some songs by Jerry Reed) was released on an MCA LP. The LP was re-issued on CD by Varese Sarabande in 2017.

  Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT

Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT

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In early 1973, Burt Reynolds expressed interest in appearing in a film adaptation of sports reporter Dan Jenkins’ 1972 novel Semi-Tough to producer David Merrick, but Merrick first planned to stage the book on Broadway as a musical. Merrick had purchased the stage rights and the musical was planned for “next season.” But a year later, it was announced that SEMI-TOUGH would be Merrick’s next film and that Ring Lardner, Jr., would write the screenplay.

Novelist Jenkins credited Lardner with writing the first draft of the screenplay, moving the story out of the first-person, and creating the character of “Vlada Kostov” (Ron Silver), the Eastern European, soccer-style placekicker. According to Jenkins, it was director Michael Ritchie who wanted the motion picture to satirize the consciousness movement, and he hired screenwriter Walter Bernstein to write a new version. The film involves
a three-way friendship between two free-spirited professional football players (Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson) and the owner's daughter (Jill Clayburgh), which becomes compromised when two of them become romantically involved.

This picture was the first film of a two picture contract between Reynolds and producer David Merrick. The second movie in the deal was ROUGH CUT (1980). Production on SEMI-TOUGH was scheduled to begin at the Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX, on 18 October 1976. However, filming was postponed when doctors advised Burt Reynolds to rest for sixty days following two straight years of filming. The start date was postponed until 27 December 1976.

Burt Reynolds based his character on friend Don Meredith's football career. Reynolds character wears the uniform number 22, just like he did in both versions of THE LONGEST YARD, as well as his retired quarterback/high school coach character in the sitcom "Evening Shade".

SEMI-TOUGH had an estimated budget of $6 million, and grossed $37 million at the box office. Jerry Fielding's score for the 1977 film was released only in Japan, on a Seven Seas LP. It has not been re-issued on CD.

  Kris Kristofferson, Jill Clayburgh, and Burt Reynolds in SEMI-TOUGH

Kris Kristofferson, Jill Clayburgh, and Burt Reynolds in SEMI-TOUGH

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Screenwriter Jerry Belson described how THE END eventually made it to the screen after seven years. In 1971, he read an article in the International Herald Tribune about a coma patient who left instructions to be removed from life support. Despite the fact that his family tried to honor his wishes, the medical system denied the request. As a result, the man was in a coma for eleven years, which caused financial and emotional difficulties for his wife and parents. Within a year, Belson turned the tragic story into a dark comedy.

After a lengthy period of rejection, he considered reconstructing the screenplay for television. When actor and director Burt Reynolds and producer Lawrence Gordon decided to develop the project together, they also faced resistance because of the subject matter. It was not until the success of Reynolds’ SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977) that they were able to secure financing through United Artists. Belson stated that he originally wrote the screenplay with Woody Allen in mind. Reynolds is quoted as saying that the film “‘was originally written for somebody like Woody.’”

THE END is a slapstick black comedy about a man, "Wendell Sonny Lawson" (Reynolds), who finds that he hasn't much longer to live and makes several bungled attempts at suicide. Others around him become involved in his plans, including his girlfriend, "Mary Ellen" (Sally Field); his best friend and attorney, "Marty Lieberman" (David Steinberg); his ex-wife, "Jessica" (Joanne Woodward); his parents, "Maureen and Ben Lawson" (Myrna Loy and Pat O'Brien), and "Marlon Borunki" (Dom DeLuise), a paranoid schizophrenic whom he meets at a psychiatric hospital.

The film was the first major teaming of comedy duo Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise. The two had both appeared in SILENT MOVIE (1976) but were not "teamed" as such. James Best, who served as associate producer and has a small part as a pacemaker patient, was again hired by Burt Reynolds to rewrite the script to make his character more in-depth.

THE END was also the second theatrical feature directed by Burt Reynolds. The reviews for the 1978 film were generally poor. Most critics recognized that Reynolds was attempting a different image by donning a beard and embracing a selfish character, but they singled out his direction and the script as ineffectual at tackling dark humor and also wasting the talents of the supporting cast. In his Los Angeles Times review, Charles Champlin described the film as “a succession of confrontations, like skits in a very long variety show.” In contrast, an item in the 23 May 1978 Los Angeles Times mentioned that Orson Welles wrote a “five-page fan letter” to Reynolds, describing how “truly impressed” he was by the film.

The Paul Williams score for the film has not had a release.

   Pat O'Brien, Burt Reynolds, and Myra Loy in THE END


Pat O'Brien, Burt Reynolds, and Myra Loy in THE END

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In the 1978 action comedy HOOPER, Reynolds stars as stuntman "Sonny Hooper,' who as the film opens, dresses for work, numerous scars and bandages covering his aging body. He arrives on set of The Spy Who Laughed at Danger as stunt double for the film’s star, Adam West--who plays himself in HOOPER.

The film, originally titled "The Stuntman," was announced with Lamont Johnson attached to direct. Producer-director Richard Rush took Warner Bros., the studio developing the picture with Burt Reynolds, to arbitration before the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) over the film's title. The MPAA ruled that Rush had prior claim to the title. Rush’s project, based on the 1970 novel by Paul Brodeur called The Stunt Man, had previously been in development at Columbia Pictures.

Due to delays caused by the arbitration and by problems with the script, the project was shelved in 1976. Further, Burt Reynolds pulled out due to previous obligations to film SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and SEMI-TOUGH. Despite the problems, Reynolds said he was committed to doing the project because his film career began as a Hollywood stuntman. He was also contractually obligated to make a film with Warner Bros.

By the fall of 1977, the project had been re-activated by Warner Bros. At the same time, Rush’s THE STUNT MAN (1980) was about to go into production. Worried that the two projects would cause confusion in the media, Rush considered reactivating his appeal to the MPAA to force Warner Bros. to drop their new but similar title, "Hollywood Stuntman," if the studio didn't voluntarily change the title themselves.

Meanwhile, principal photography began on "Hollywood Stuntman" on 31 January 1978 in Tuscaloosa, AL with Hal Needham directing. In the end, Reynolds and Warner Bros. lost the appeal, thus forcing them to choose a new title. In April 1978, it was announced that the title was changed to HOOPER.

Hal Needham directed Reynolds for the second time in HOOPER. Reynolds and Needham both worked as stuntmen early in their careers. The film was made as a tribute to all of their fellow stuntmen. During filming, stunt man A.J. Bakunas, doubling for Burt Reynolds, dropped 232 feet, setting a record for the highest jump without a parachute. In a scene where "Hooper" (Reynolds) and crew are watching Hooper's "stunt reel" at Hooper's house, the stunt reel contains scenes of Reynolds in DELIVERANCE being flipped out of the canoe.

HOOPER grossed over $51 million, making it the #7 film at the box office for 1978. The score by Bill Justis was released on a Warner Bros. LP, but it has never been reissued on CD.

  Jan Michael-Vincent and Burt Reynolds in HOOPER

Jan Michael-Vincent and Burt Reynolds in HOOPER

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In the 1979 romantic comedy STARTING OVER, Burt Reynolds plays "Phil Potter," a divorced man who falls in love with "Marilyn Holmberg" (Jill Clayburgh), a nursery school teacher, but somehow he can't get over his ex-wife (Candice Bergen). The film was the second for Reynolds and Clayburgh after SEMI-TOUGH.

Originally, director Alan J. Pakula did not want Burt Reynolds for the Phil Potter part, feeling he was not the right type; he wanted a more New York-trained actor along the lines of Al Pacino or Dustin Hoffman. But Reynolds lobbied hard for the role and Pakula finally let him audition. After two auditions, Reynolds had the role, and Pakula subsequently praised his work in the film.

STARTING OVER represented the first feature film screenplay for writer-producer James L. Brooks. When Brooks became a director and had TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983) in development, the character of "Garrett Breedlove" did not appear in Larry McMurtry's source novel and was written specifically with Reynolds in mind by writer-director Brooks. Reynolds loved the script but was already committed to star in STROKER ACE (1983).

STARTING OVER grossed more than $38 million and received two Academy Award nominations: Actress in a Leading Role for Jill Clayburgh and Actress in a Supporting Role for Candice Bergen. Reportedly, Burt Reynolds was angered at being ignored by the Academy. Marvin Hamlisch's score has not had a release.

  Burt Reynolds and Jill Clayburgh in STARTING OVER

Burt Reynolds and Jill Clayburgh in STARTING OVER

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In 1980's ROUGH CUT, two sophisticated jewel thieves (Burt Reynolds and Lesley-Anne Down) join forces to steal $30 million in uncut jewels. Despite a continuous exchange of quips they eventually become romantically involved. The production of the film had numerous problems.

Screenwriter Larry Gelbart recalled that in the summer of 1977, producer David Merrick asked him to work on the screenplay for ROUGH CUT with Blake Edwards attached to direct, and Burt Reynolds cast in the starring role. Gelbart was told he could base his work on Derek Lambert’s 1975 source novel, Touch the Lion’s Paw, as well as an existing first draft by an unidentified writer. Within days, Gelbart’s manager told him the deal was off. He later learned that Merrick had replaced him with a writing team, but Reynolds, who had director and writer approval, insisted on working with Gelbart. After several creative meetings with Edwards in Paris, Gelbart handed a script to Merrick in January 1978. However, Edwards was dissatisfied with the finished screenplay, and Gelbart was dropped from the production.

Producer David Merrick had delayed the start of principal photography so that Burt Reynolds could finish work on his previous movie, STARTING OVER (1979). In return, Reynolds gave up director approval on ROUGH CUT, so when director issues later arose on this picture, Reynolds had no say in the matter.

Gelbart got a second chance to work on the film in June 1979 when Merrick asked him to return to the project. By this time, a minimum of four other writers had churned out additional versions of the script. Edwards had since left the project due to time conflicts, involving his post-production work on REVENGE OF THE PINK PANTHER. Gelbart worked closely with the new director, Donald Siegel, and Reynolds. The collaboration yielded three rewrites, and filming commenced shortly thereafter. However within weeks of production, Siegel was fired and temporarily replaced by an unnamed British director. At that point, Edwards offered to rewrite Gelbart’s work, but instead, Merrick rehired Siegel, while English playwright and novelist Anthony Shaffer was contracted to do rewrites.

In August 1979, Reynolds told the Los Angeles Times that creative differences between Merrick and Siegel had been smoothed over, but that he regretted that Gelbart was absent from the set due to other commitments. Just one week later, Merrick again fired Siegel, and replaced him with Peter Hunt. Reynolds became an important advocate for Siegel’s return, while Hunt took over filming. In the same timeframe, Blake Edwards met with Merrick but passed on the opportunity to direct. Paramount executives flew to England to meet with Merrick, and Siegel returned to work one week later on 20 August 1979. Gelbart wanted his name removed from the credits because the last half of the screenplay no longer reflected his work. A Writers Guild arbitration ruled to deny Merrick’s request to give Shaffer a co-screenwriter credit with Gelbart, and Gelbart accepted the solo screen credit under the pseudonym “Francis Burns.”

Gelbart wrote a new ending to the film without compensation, as a favor to Reynolds, which was scheduled for shoooting in Hawaii. Siegel, with his final cut approval, insisted on the change, but Merrick was opposed. It's unclear what ending the film had when it went into sneak previews. Regardless, although the film tested well at a sneak preview in Lakewood, CA, Merrick called for a new ending that would push the film’s release until the fall 1980. Actors David Niven and Reynolds were ordered to report to Florida to shoot a new finale, under the direction of Robert Ellis Miller. This would be the picture's fourth filmed ending. Merrick filed a $15 million breach-of-contract civil lawsuit against A. Siegel Film, Inc. and the Directors Guild of America. Merrick complained of Siegel’s inability to comply with the producer’s vision of the film, and failed to meet the deadline for the rough cut of the film. The outcome of the lawsuit has not been determined.

Another breach-of-contract lawsuit was filed by Niven in New York City Supreme Court against Merrick and Paramount Pictures. Niven asked for $1,791,667 in damages for unpaid salary and redress for being shortchanged in the film’s advertising campaign. Niven maintained that the film’s advertising falsely portrayed his role as less prestigious than the roles in which he was normally associated, because his image was not used in promotional material alongside co-stars Burt Reynolds and Lesley-Anne Down. The original American theatrical movie poster does not feature a photograph of Niven but the British poster did, when the film was released there later. Niven accepted an undisclosed six-figure settlement from Merrick and Paramount.

The film grossed $16.7 million upon its release in the summer of 1980. Nelson Riddle's score has not had a release.

  Lesley-Anne Down and Burt Reynolds in ROUGH CUT

Lesley-Anne Down and Burt Reynolds in ROUGH CUT

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SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT II was Reynolds' follow-up to his 1977 comedy hit. In this episode, The Bandit (Reynolds) goes on another cross-country run, transporting an elephant from Florida to Texas. And, once again, Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) is on his tail. All of the primary cast members from the original film returned, with new additions Dom DeLuise and David Huddleston. Actress Julie Kavner, who was directed by Burt Reynolds in a stage production of "Two For The Seesaw" at Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre, was approached to co-star in the sequel, known at the time by the working title "Smokey and the Bandit: Ten Four." However, Kavner does not receive onscreen credit. Actor Robert Urich appeared with Reynolds in a scene that involved pigs and roller skates. As the pigs escaped, the actors were left stuck in mud with their skates; however the scene was cut, before release. Urich did not receive onscreen credit for his cameo.

Shooting on the picture had to be delayed while Reynolds finished his work on ROUGH CUT. A large part of the filming was done at Burt Reynolds' ranch in Jupiter, Florida as well as in the north of Palm Beach County, Florida.

Creative differences between producer Mort Engelberg and Reynolds led to Engelberg’s replacement by Hank Moonjean. However, Engelberg reportedly was paid his full salary, points, and given screen credit despite his departure. Hal Needham directed the film, his third with Reynolds. Snuff Garrett was the music supervisor, and a few instrumental tracks by "The Bandit Band" ended up on the MCA soundtrack LP along with the requisite number of country songs. The LP was reissued on CD by Varese Sarabande in 2017.

Upon opening in over 1,200 theaters, the film earned more than $11 million, which marked the second all-time highest opening in industry history at the time. A 17-23 September 1980 Village Voice column stated the picture was a “hit” with earnings of $30 million. The film's final gross was over $66 million.

  Jerry Reed, Sally Field, and Burt Reynolds in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT II

Jerry Reed, Sally Field, and Burt Reynolds in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT II

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Roger Moore co-starred with Burt Reynolds in the 1981 action-comedy THE CANNONBALL RUN. The plot followed a wide variety of eccentric competitors who participate in a wild and illegal cross-country road race. However, the entrants will do anything to win the race, including low-down, dirty tricks. Reynolds played “J. J. McClure,” owner of a land-sea-air delivery business. Moore was millionaire “Seymour Goldfarb, Jr.,” who is chastised by his mother (Molly Picon) for calling himself “Roger Moore” and thinking he is the star of James Bond films. “Seymour” was originally written as a man who thinks he's James Bond. But for legal reasons, he was charged to a character who thinks he is Roger Moore.

The character "Victor Prinzim" (Dom DeLuise) was named after Vic Prinzi, a friend and former college football teammate of Burt Reynolds at Florida State University. Reynolds played halfback at FSU before an injury forced him out of football, and Prinzi was the quarterback. THE CANNONBALL RUN was Dom DeLuise's third film with Reynolds.

The film was based on the “Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash,” a “no-holds-barred transcontinental race.” The race, created by writer Brock Yates, was held five times between 1971 and 1979, and was named to honor driver Erwin “Cannonball” Baker, who set a 1933 cross-country record of 53 hours and 30 minutes. In an interview in the November 2002 Car and Driver, Yates noted that he used incidents from the races as material for the film, including the use of an ambulance and a fake patient. The film’s director, Hal Needham, accompanied Yates in the ambulance during the final Cannonball race in April 1979. Yates’s wife, Pamela, was the “patient” and a radiologist named Lyle Royer played the role of the “doctor.” The ambulance driven by Burt Reynolds’ team in the film is the ambulance Needham and Yates drove in the actual race.

In the Car and Driver interview, Yates stated that he had written the script for Steve McQueen, and McQueen was considered for the starring role. However, ultimately Burt Reynolds was signed to star, after McQueen became ill and subsequently died. Reynolds received $5 million for his role. For four weeks work, that made Reynolds the highest paid actor in film history. Paramount Pictures was planning to file a law suit against Golden Harvest Productions and Twentieth Century-Fox for persuading Reynolds to film THE CANNONBALL RUN instead of the Paramount picture PATERNITY, which he was contracted to film next. Reynolds would ultimately star in PATERNITY, but it filmed after THE CANNONBALL RUN. The filmmakers extended an “olive branch” to Paramount by shutting down the THE CANNONBALL RUN production for a weekend so Reynolds could film additional footage on Paramount’s ROUGH CUT.

Because of Roger Moore’s presence, there are numerous James Bond references throughout the film, resulting in a rumor that Albert R. Broccoli had Roger Moore sign a contract which forbid him to spoof or make references to the James Bond character in any other non-Bond film. However, in September 2014 during an audience Q&A in Torquay (as part of his book tour), Moore stated there was no such contract but that he had promised Broccoli that he would never do anything that would hurt the James Bond character. When director Hal Needham went to meet the Bond producers about the possibility of directing a Bond film, the first thing they said was "Perhaps we should think about suing you for Cannonball". Roger Moore has a different girlfriend every time he appears in the film, and they are all voiced by an uncredited June Foray.

The $12 million film was directed by former stunt director Hal Needham, his fourth film with Burt Reynolds. The film’s song score was released on a Warner Bros. LP, but has not been reissued on CD. The film did excellent business, grossing about $90 million worldwide.

Burt Reynolds said of the picture, "I did that film for all the wrong reasons. I never liked it. I did it to help out a friend of mine, Hal Needham, and I also felt it was immoral to turn down that kind of money. I suppose I sold out, so I couldn't really object to what people wrote about me."

   Burt Reynolds, John Fiedler, and Dom DeLuise in THE CANNONBALL RUN


Burt Reynolds, John Fiedler, and Dom DeLuise in THE CANNONBALL RUN

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PATERNITY was a romantic comedy in which a single man (Burt Reynolds) searches for a woman who will bear his baby with no strings attached. Reynolds' character "Buddy Evans" is aged 44 years, which was approximately about the same age that Reynolds actually was when this movie was made. This was Reynolds' second film with Lauren Hutton, after GATOR.

Comedian David Steinberg directed the 1981 film. David Shire's score was released by Kritzerland in 2014. PATERNITY under-performed at the box office, grossing about $19 million.

Burt Reynolds once said of this movie: "It's the story of my life! It's about a guy who has everything in the world except the one thing he desires most - a child. This one is much closer to who I am and what I am than most of my other movies. Personally, it's one of my very favorite pictures."

  Beverly D'Angelo, Burt Reynolds, and Lauren Hutton in PATERNITY

Beverly D'Angelo, Burt Reynolds, and Lauren Hutton in PATERNITY

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Burt Reynolds starred as "Sgt. Tom Sharky" in the 1981 action-crime drama SHARKY'S MACHINE. Sharky is demoted to the vice squad after a bust goes terribly wrong. He and his "machine" stumble across a mob murder tied to prostitution and government. The members of "Sharky's Machine" include Reynolds as Sharky, Brian Keith as "Papa," Bernie Casey as "Arch," and Richard Libertini as "Nosh." SHARKY'S MACHINE was the third and final film in which Reynolds and Brian Keith worked together.

William Diehl, the author of the "Sharky's Machine" (1978) source novel, said that he had Burt Reynolds in mind when he wrote the novel. After Diehl and two other people sent him the novel, Reynolds optioned the movie rights.

When the film was initially announced, it was reported that John Boorman would direct, marking the first time Boorman had worked with Reynolds since 1972 when they filmed DELIVERANCE. However, Boorman left SHARKY'S MACHINE due to the elaborate post-production work required on his film EXCALIBUR. Reportedly, Boorman suggested that Reynolds should direct. SHARKY'S MACHINE was Reynolds' third film as director.

When Clint Eastwood made the comedy EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE (1978), Burt Reynolds reportedly said to him, "Clint, you're getting into my territory [comedy], and if it's a success, I'm going out and make 'Dirty Harry Goes to Atlanta'!". When SHARKY'S MACHINE went into production, Eastwood sent a telegram to Reynolds saying, "You really weren't kidding, were you?"

SHARKY'S MACHINE was the only film to be released in a 70mm format during the 1981 Christmas season. Due to the success of several pictures such as STAR WARS and APOCALYPSE NOW, the use of 70mm, widescreen technology had been growing for several years in U.S. film exhibition, primarily among “big pictures.” However, during 1981, only six films had been released in 70mm, compared to thirteen films in 1980. The surprise of the 1981 Christmas season was that epic films, such as REDS, were released in monaural, 35mm versions, while Reynolds’ action film, SHARKY'S MACHINE, was released in 70mm/six-track Dolby stereo.

The film was a top 20 grosser for 1981, pulling in almost $33 million. The film's song score was released on a Warner Bros. LP, which was re-issued on CD by Varese Sarabande in 2014

  Burt Reynolds, Richard Libertini, and Bernie Casey in SHARKEY'S MACHINE

Burt Reynolds, Richard Libertini, and Bernie Casey in SHARKEY'S MACHINE

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Burt Reynolds' second musical was 1982's THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, in which he co-starred with Dolly Parton. Parton committed to the picture for a $1 million-plus salary and Reynolds said that he would join if his busy schedule allowed. The pair of actors insisted that one wouldn’t do the film without the other and made demands for $6 million between them, prompting Universal to approach country stars Willie Nelson, Barbara Mandell, and Crystal Gayle as replacements. But by February 1980, Daily Variety confirmed that Parton and Reynolds had both been signed for the lead roles, with the production start date on hold until the actors’ availability could be determined. Reynolds and Parton received $3.5 million and $1.5 million respectively, in addition to a percentage of the film’s gross.

Voice-over narration by Jim Nabors’ character, “Deputy Fred,” summarizes the history of the Chicken Ranch brothel before the story begins. Both Burt Reynolds and Nabors, who play law enforcement officers in the film, were the sons of Southern policemen. THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS was the first of three Reynolds movies that would feature Nabors.

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) granted Peter Masterson and Tommy Tune, directors of the original stage production, special permission to co-direct the film despite their lack of screen experience. But they were ultimately replaced in favor of a director with more experience. Colin Higgins, who had previously worked with star Dolly Parton on "9 to 5" (1980), directed the film, his last.

In the film, a town's Sheriff (Reynolds) and regular patron of a historical whorehouse fights to keep it running when a television reporter targets it as the Devil's playhouse. A story in Time noted that Higgins had rewritten Peter Masterson and Larry L. King’s script in order to more closely match the characters to Parton and Reynolds’ personas. Knowing that she'd be starring opposite Burt Reynolds, it was Dolly Parton's idea to have "Miss Mona" and the Sheriff romantically involved, though she faced harsh criticism from both the screenwriter and critics for this drastic deviation from the real-life story which inspired the film.

Journalist Larry L. King had written a Playboy article which brought the original story to international attention, and he went on to pen the stage musical and numerous drafts of the movie's screenplay. However, King was vehemently opposed to the film's story changes, as well as the casting of Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton, both of whom he publicly vilified on countless occasions. King went as far as to challenge Reynolds to a fist fight in a subsequent 1982 Playboy article, and Reynolds told a reporter for the Austin American-Statesman that he was game, but ultimately nothing came of it.

While filming the ending scene, Burt Reynolds got a double hernia from picking up Dolly Parton. He often joked to Dolly that he thought of her every time he got a pang of pain.

Although the Time article stated that ten songs from the stage musical were dropped and Parton wrote four original tunes, the 2 August 1982 People claimed that Parton wrote twenty-nine new songs. Four of these songs were filmed and two were used in the final film. Eight songs and an orchestral track from the film's score were released on an MCA LP, which was re-issued on CD in 1987.

The film was one of the top 10 releases of the year, grossing almost $70 million.

  Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton in THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS

Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton in THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS

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When professional couple "Richard Babson" and "Paula McCullen" (Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn), who have lived and worked together for many years, finally decide to marry, their sudden betrothal causes many unexpectedly funny and awkward difficulties. They soon find that being married is often quite different from being BEST FRIENDS.

Said Reynolds: "Goldie Hawn and I had been talking for five years about doing a movie together. She's someone who makes me laugh. Really laugh. I knew her when she was a dumb blonde and even then she was one of the smartest people I knew" ... "We'd meet for dinner and compare notes on the scripts we'd read and liked, but we always ran up against the same problem. The male role always dominated the female character or vice versa. They didn't seem to be writing the kind of give-and-take comedies that Tracy and Hepburn or Cary Grant and Jean Arthur used to do."

After reading the movie's original screenplay by Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson, Reynolds felt it was "a very funny script". Reynolds told his agent to "make a deal and not let money become a stumbling block". Reynolds added: "I meant it, but fortunately he refused to take me seriously." Reynolds and Hawn would each receive $3 million for starring in the film.

"The first day on the set of BEST FRIENDS", according to Reynolds, "Goldie and I picked up each other's rhythms immediately. It was as if we had been playing those characters together for years." The film's director, Norman Jewison, said: "Burt Reynolds is a natural comic inventor. He can do more with a throwaway line than most performers can with a page of dialogue. As for Goldie's character, Paula McCullen, she's a marvelous mixture of strength and vulnerability that only Goldie could have played. From the first day, the chemistry of the two stars was right." Jewison commented that given the circumstances it was not surprising that the two big movie stars and the characters that they portrayed developed an instant comic rapport.

Despite many critics’ affection for the pairing of Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn, the film opened on 17 December 1982 to mildly negative reviews. Still, the film was the #20 highest grossing picture at the box office that year, pulling in a decent $36.7 million.

The only music from Michel Legrand's score that was released was the song “How Do You Keep The Music Playing?”, which had lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The song was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Original Song, losing to "Up Where We Belong" from AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMEN.

  Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn in BEST FRIENDS

Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn in BEST FRIENDS

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Burt Reynolds plays a top NASCAR driver and Jim Nabors is his mechanic, "Lugs," in 1983's STROKER ACE. It was Nabors' second film with Reynolds. The picture marked the feature film debut of actress Loni Anderson, as well as Burt Reynolds’ fifth collaboration with director Hal Needham, and his sixth with producer Hank Moonjean.

Prior to being cast, director Hal Needham visited star Burt Reynolds on the set of BEST FRIENDS. Needham, who had signed on as director, said: "Even though I didn't ask Burt to star in STROKER - I knew his schedule was pretty full - he called me a short while later to tell me he wanted to be in it. I guess Burt realized he'd have a good time working on the movie and that it would be a fun one for people to see. Since I love working with Burt, I naturally accepted his offer. After all, STROKER ACE is the kind of movie Burt and I do best."

Burt Reynolds famously turned down TERMS OF ENDEARMENT for this film, saying it was the biggest regret of his career. He had made a verbal commitment to Hal Needham to do STROKER ACE by the time he was offered the "Garrett Breedlove" role in TERMS, but said in hindsight Needham could have waited, since "the world was not clamoring for another Reynolds car chase picture".

The film was the first “coventure” between Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Director Hal Needham’s Yahi Productions, was also involved. The partnership was prompted by Universal’s desire to use actor Burt Reynolds and producer Hank Moonjean, both of whom were committed to Warner Bros. at the time. Warner Bros. received foreign rights and non-theatrical domestic rights in exchange for Reynolds’ and Moonjean’s services, while Universal retained domestic theatrical rights and non-theatrical foreign rights. Both studios provided equal shares of the $14 million budget. Producer Walter Wood acquired the source novel in 1978 and developed the project with Thom Mount, head of production at Universal. The final budget was estimated at $15 million.

This was the only real live action movie that Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson made together, though they both did do voice work for the animated film ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN (1989). Reynolds and Anderson formed a relationship which led to a five-year marriage between 1988 and 1993, a marriage that began five years after this movie was made. Their messy divorce drew much publicity from the media. The two first met on the set of "The Merv Griffin Show" in 1981 but did not start dating until 1982. 

STROKER ACE opened 1 July 1983 in 1,385 theaters to negative reviews. The film was a dud at the box office, grossing only $13 million. MCA Records released a 5-track mini-LP of music from the film, with four songs and one track from Al Capps' score.

  Jim Nabors, Loni Anderson, Burt Reynolds, and Bubba Smith in STROKER ACE

Jim Nabors, Loni Anderson, Burt Reynolds, and Bubba Smith in STROKER ACE

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Originally, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT PART 3 was being considered by Universal Pictures as a cable television movie. Varietyspeculated that the modest budget of the proposed sequel would not accommodate the salary requirements of actor Burt Reynolds, who starred as “The Bandit” in the two previous theatrical films. The Los Angeles Herald Examiner estimated the budget at “under $5 million,” adding that actor John Schneider was rumored as a possible replacement for Reynolds. 

Two months later, it was announced that actor Jackie Gleason would play both “Buford T. Justice” and his adversary, “The Bandit,” in the film. Gleason filmed six scenes disguised as Burt Reynolds. The actor admitted to writing his own dialogue, but was not credited onscreen, although he was paid accordingly. However, beginning in early May 1983, new scenes were shot with actor Jerry Reed (who had appeared in the prior two films) replacing Gleason as “The Bandit,” prompted by the reaction of preview audiences, who “were left confused and angry” at seeing Gleason in dual roles. 

Reynolds made a brief appearance in the film as "the real Bandit." He and Gleason improvised their dialogue on camera, and completed the scene in one day. Sally Field did not appear in this sequel.

Hal Needham was not interested in directing the film, as he was working on STROKER ACE (with Reynolds) at the time. Dick Lowry directed the film instead. Larry Cansler's score did not make an appearance on the mini-LP of six songs from the film released by MCA.

SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT PART 3 opened on 2 September 1983. The film did even worse than STROKER ACE at the box office, grossing well south of $10 million, but may have broken even given its modest budget.

  Burt Reynolds in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT PART 3

Burt Reynolds in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT PART 3

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Filmmaker Blake Edwards viewed the 1977 French production, "L’Homme Qui Aimait les Femmes," and was convinced it would make an excellent American comedy. Collaborating with his son, Geoffrey, Edwards completed the screenplay for THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN in Ocober 1982. Burt Reynolds, a close friend of Edwards and producer Tony Adams, was considered for the title role, but was unavailable because of a prior commitment. Warren Beatty was announced as Edwards’ choice for the role, but he was replaced by Reynolds, who became available when his other project went on hiatus. 

Actor Dustin Hoffman was also a candidate. Angered over losing the part, Hoffman became verbally abusive during a meeting with Edwards and accused him of stealing an idea the actor had suggested for the screenplay. While Bert Fields, Hoffman’s attorney, denied allegations of abusive language, Tony Adams described the actor as “a spoiled brat,” and dismissed Hoffman’s contributions as unnecessary.

The filming of a scene at a Santa Monica, CA, gasoline station, featuring Reynolds and costar Marilu Henner, drew a large crowd of spectators. Reportedly, some members of the crowd assumed the station was involved in a price war with its competitors.

The names of the women that "David Fowler" (Burt Reynolds) loved in the film were [in alphabetical order]: Agnes, Enid, Courtney, Janet, Louise, Marianna, Nancy and Svetlana. They were portrayed by Marilu Henner, Cynthia Sikes, Denise Crosby, Sela Ward, Kim Basinger, Julie Andrews, Jennifer Edwards, and Ellen Bauer respectively. Columbia Pictures had to recall 1,000 pre-release advertising posters because they depicted Reynolds holding a rose, supposedly a symbol of monogamous love. Following the recall, new posters were issued featuring Reynolds posing with a daisy, considered a more “capricious” flower.

 B.R. with a rose

B.R. with a rose

 B.R. with a daisy

B.R. with a daisy

Although it was initially announced that singer Rita Coolidge would perform the film's theme song, “Little Boys,” two days later, it was reported that singer Helen Reddy’s version would be used in the film. The song was written by Henry Mancini, with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Mancini's score and song were released by Varese Sarabande in 2008.

Reviews of the film were lukewarm to negative. While the New York Times described it as a somewhat enjoyable comedy with excellent performances by Reynolds, Andrews, and Basinger, Variety called it “truly woeful.” The $12 million production was a bust at the box office, grossing only $11 million.

  Julie Andrews and Burt Reynolds in THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN

Julie Andrews and Burt Reynolds in THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN

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While Burt Reynolds made only a cameo appearance in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT PART 3, he starred in the sequel to his other big car chase film, THE CANNONBALL RUN. CANNONBALL RUN II was yet another cross-country road race comedy. Also returning from the original film were Dom DeLuise (his fifth film with Reynolds), Dean Martin, Jamie Farr, and Sammy Davis, Jr. Jim Nabors, who didn't appear in the original 1981 film, had a small part as "Pvt. Homer Lyle" in the sequel, his third and last film with Reynolds. Also new to the sequel was Frank Sinatra, who received second billing (after Burt Reynolds) in the closing credits, even though he only had a small cameo role, and appeared only in two sequences.

Variety originally announced that Hugh Wilson would direct the sequel. Filmmaker Hal Needham was reportedly unable to agree upon salary with producers Golden Harvest and distributor Warner Bros. However, Needham ultimately co-wrote the screenplay and directed the film. It would be Needham's sixth and last film as a director with Burt Reynolds.

A soundtrack LP was released by Victor in Japan, but it is not known if it included any of Steve Dorff's score. The 1984 release garnered poor reviews. LA Weekly stated that star Burt Reynolds and Needham had created a “whole new category of filmmaking: noodle-brained gas guzzlers stalled on the far side of drivel.” CANNONBALL RUN II grossed $28 million domestically, far below the original's $57 million U.S. take. It would be Burt Reynolds' final "car chase" movie.

  Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise in CANNONBALL RUN II

Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise in CANNONBALL RUN II

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Two of the biggest male stars of the era, Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds, teamed up for 1984's CITY HEAT, a period action comedy set in 1933 Kansas City. The film finds slick private eye "Mike Murphy" (Reynolds) and tough police "Lieutenant Speer" (Eastwood)--once partners, now bitter enemies--reluctantly agreeing to jointly investigate a murder. 

Although Eastwood and Reynolds had been talking about doing a movie together for a number of years, reportedly Eastwood only agreed to do the film under the condition that he would be paid more than Reynolds, and that his name would appear first in the credits. The picture was a joint production of the two stars' companies--Malpaso (Eastwood) and Deliverance (Reynolds).

Filmmaker Blake Edwards was originally slated to direct the film. However, on 8 February 1984, Daily Variety reported that Edwards had left the project. Edwards was also scheduled to produce with Tony Adams, and Jonathan D. Krane as executive producer, but Fritz Manes is the sole producer credited onscreen. Warner Bros. cited “creative differences” for Edwards’ departure. However, Daily Variety also noted that the director had conflicts with star Clint Eastwood. Richard Benjamin took over as director. 

According to Burt Reynolds' memoir, Eastwood actually orchestrated the removal of Blake Edwards by goading him into quitting, in favor of Richard Benjamin, a less intense, less expensive director. But Richard Schickel's book Clint Eastwood tells a somewhat different tale: Edwards was originally signed to direct the film from his screenplay "Kansas City Jazz". Problems arose over Edwards' insistence on casting his wife Julie Andrews in one of the female leads. Reynolds and Andrews had not gotten along very well during the production of THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN, and of course, Reynolds had major reservations about a reprise of previous problems. Eastwood supported Reynolds, and Edwards quit the production. Eastwood brought in Joseph Stinson to rewrite the script.

Edwards’ only onscreen credit was for story and screenplay under the pseudonym "Sam O. Brown," the initials being a reference to his earlier film, S.O.B. Joseph C. Stinson also received a screenplay credit, and Daily Variety reported that he changed ninety-five percent of the dialogue. After Benjamin came on board as director, actress Jane Alexander replaced Marsha Mason in the role of “Addy,” and Madeline Kahn replaced Clio Goldsmith as “Caroline Howley.”

Burt Reynolds initially suggested Richard Kiel, his longtime friend and co-star from THE LONGEST YARD and CANNONBALL RUN II, for the part as the villainous thug "Troy Roker." But Clint Eastwood nixed the idea because he had the intention to use Kiel in his next film, PALE RIDER.

Reynolds suffered a serious accident and incurred a hairline fracture of the jaw when he was hit in the face with a metal chair while filming a fight scene on this movie. Reynolds was restricted to a liquid diet and lost over thirty pounds by the time the film wrapped.

Lennie Niehaus' score was released on a Warner Bros. LP, which was re-issued on CD by Varese Sarabande in 2016. Upon the film's release on 7 December 1984, the New York Times called the film “overdressed and overplotted,” but said that it benefited “greatly from the sardonic teamwork of Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds.” The film performed decently at the box office, coming in at #21 for the year and grossing $38 million.

   Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood in CITY HEAT


Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood in CITY HEAT

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In the 1985 crime drama STICK, "Ernest 'Stick' Stickley" (Burt Reynolds) returns from prison, and very soon gets involved with his old friend "Rainy" (Jose Perez) in a drug-running deal that goes sour. Hired by a rich investor (George Segal), he tries to walk the line, but trouble follows him throughout as he tries to collect a debt and make up for lost time with his daughter "Katie".

In 1983, Universal purchased film rights to the forthcoming Elmore Leonard novel, Stick, for $350,000. It was announced that Jennings Lang would produce the film, and Leonard himself had been hired to adapt his novel for the screen. In July 1983, Burt Reynolds agreed to both star in and direct the picture (his fourth as director).

The film film was plagued by accidents and health issues to its star and crew. For starters, Burt Reynolds was still suffering from having his jaw fractured during the making of CITY HEAT. That accident had dire consequences for STICK. Reynolds looks underweight, weak and thin in the film, and this condition was because of his accident. Apparently, the accident also led to Reynolds becoming addicted to painkillers.

In October 1983, Reynolds suffered an eye injury during a gunfight sequence in STICK. Reynolds was shot in the eye and rushed by helicopter to a Miami hospital. After treatment, a full recovery was expected.

On 10 November 1983, during filming in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, three crew members were injured when a Tulip camera crane fell on top of them. Video technician Michael LeFebvre was in critical condition, suffering from internal injuries and massive head trauma. Video technician Richard Roberts lost the tip of a finger, and electrician Bob Daddario was released from the hospital with a minor ankle injury. The cause of the crane toppling remains unknown. An investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Set nurse Dorothy Vitale was credited for saving Michael LeFebvre’s life, thanks to her quick response. OSHA found neither structural nor mechanical failures in the case of the crane collapse, and human error was also initially ruled out, but investigations continued, with unknown results.

In August 1984, it was reported that Burt Reynolds was unable to complete post production on the film due to an unspecified illness. Subsequently, the 17 August 1984 release date for the film was postponed. People magazine noted that Reynolds had suffered from a serious inner ear infection.

A late January 1985 release date for the film was anticipated. However, the 5 November 1984 People announced that Burt Reynolds was planning to reshoot several scenes, and reportedly wanted to replace actress Shana Rodman who played his onscreen daughter, “Katie.” Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton was offered the role, but declined. Eventually, the part of “Katie” was recast with Tricia Leigh Fisher, who is Carrie Fisher's half-sister. (Their father was Eddie Fisher and their mothers were Connie Stevens and Debbie Reynolds, respectively.)

Reshoots were ordered by Universal after poor responses were received from test audiences. Screenwriter Joseph C. Stinson was hired to rewrite scenes, including changing the ending to be more “upbeat.” The studio also wanted additional action scenes--at a further cost of $3 million--and a reduction of the film's humor to make it more commercially viable. 

Elmore Leonard was reportedly disappointed that much of his original story had been changed in the final cut and was upset that Reynolds did not fight harder against the changes. Leonard later said of the film: "It's very very theatrical. I do everything in my power to make my writing not look like writing, and when it appears on screen you see these actors acting all over the place."

For his part, Burt Reynolds gave somewhat of a mea culpa: "I wanted to make that movie as soon as I read the book. I respected Leonard's work. I felt I knew that Florida way of life, having been raised in the state. And I was that guy!". Reynolds added: "I turned in my cut of the picture and truly thought I had made a good film. Word got back to me quickly that the people in the Black Tower [the head office for Universal Pictures] wanted a few changes." "I gave up on the film. I didn't fight them. I let them get the best of me...Leonard saw the film the day he was interviewed for a Newsweek cover and told them he hated it. After his comment, every critic attacked the film and he wouldn't talk to me. When I re-shot the film, I was just going through the motions. I'm not proud of what I did, but I take responsibility for my actions. All I can say, and this is not in way of a defense, is if you liked the first part of STICK, that's what I was trying to achieve throughout".

Upon the film's release on 26 April 1985, the Boxoffice review called the picture “depressingly bad.” The film grossed $3.5 million after the first weekend of release in 1,173 theaters, and another $1.5 million after the second weekend. The final tally was well under $10 million.

  Dar Robinson, Burt Reynolds, and Jose Perez in STICK

Dar Robinson, Burt Reynolds, and Jose Perez in STICK

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Burt Reynolds worked with Lauren Hutton for the third and last time in 1987's MALONE. The film finds an ex-C.I.A. hit-man (Reynolds) running from his past and finding just how difficult it is to retire when he runs across a small town controlled by mercenaries (led by Cliff Robertson) and a family that's resisting their control. 

MALONE is based on author William Wingate’s 1980 thriller novel Shotgun, about a renegade Central Intelligence Agency operative named John Hardacre. Paris-based American producer Leo L. Fuchs optioned the story with plans to make the film in France. Fuchs wanted French actor Gerard Depardieu to star. However, the story and its characters felt quintessentially American, so Fuchs brought the project to Orion Pictures and had screenwriter Christopher Frank revise the script, originally written in French, for an American location and American characters.

Once in the States, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Michael Keaton, Clint Eastwood, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, and Harrison Ford were considered to play "Richard Malone," before Reynolds was cast.

Harley Cokeliss directed the film. David Newman's score was released by Intrada in 2007. MALONE opened on 1,526 screens on 1 May 1987 and was a dud at the box office, earning a mere $2.5 million in its first ten days of release.

  Cliff Robertson and Burt Reynolds in MALONE

Cliff Robertson and Burt Reynolds in MALONE

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Variety described 1987's RENT-A-COP as "as a sort of follow-up" to Burt Reynolds' SHARKY'S MACHINE (1981), with his Chicago police officer "Tony Church" working on a big drug bust during the opening sequence. Bernie Casey, who also appeared in SHARKEY'S MACHINE, plays Church's former partner, "Lemar."

Reynolds was less than thrilled to be working on this film, saying that at this stage of his career, he took whatever roles came his way. Co-star Liza Minnelli (who had worked with Reynolds in 1975's LUCKY LADY) was once asked in an interview what her worst picture was. She replied: "I think Burt and I would both agree, RENT-A-COP."

Jerry London directed the crime drama. Although exterior locations were filmed in Chicago, interiors were shot at the Cinecittà Studios in Rome. The Italian crew for these scenes knew that the movie was going to be dubbed rather than using the production sound. As such, they were not careful about being quiet, which got Burt Reynolds very upset during filming.

The film was originally planned to have a large Christmas opening in theaters, but Kings Road decided to do more editing after a disastrous first studio screening. This caused the film to miss its release date. The film had its initial bookings on 15 January 1988. According to the 24 January 1988 Los Angeles Times, the picture only took in $300,000 from 193 screens.

Jerry Goldsmith's score (his third and last for a Reynolds film) was released by Intrada in the U.S. and Silva Screen in Britain. Intrada released an expanded version in 2009.

  Liza Minnelli and Burt Reynolds in RENT-A-COP

Liza Minnelli and Burt Reynolds in RENT-A-COP

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SWITCHING CHANNELS was yet another film based on the play, The Front Page, written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which opened on 14 August 1928 at the Times Square Theatre in New York City. The play had previously been filmed in 1931 as THE FRONT PAGE, in 1940 as HIS GIRL FRIDAY, and in 1974 again as THE FRONT PAGE. 

In 1985, producer Martin Ransohoff and Columbia Pictures negotiated terms to do a film remake with the estates of writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The project was expected to begin filming the following year, with locations either in Chicago or New York City. Six months later, the Daily News reported that actress Debra Winger and actors Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd were in talks to star, with principal photography to begin in late 1986. Daily Variety noted that the film’s budget would be in the area of $20 million. However, participation of Winger, Murray, and Aykroyd was “contingent upon an approval of the completed screenplay” written by screenwriter Jonathan Reynolds.

Later news items stated that the film’s setting would be a television newsroom, differing from the play’s setting of a newspaper office. In the end, little of the dialogue in the film came from the play, and all of the characters’ names were changed.

In February 1987, the film was put into “turnaround” by Columbia chairman David Puttnam. However, Ransohoff made a deal with Columbia’s parent company, the Coca-Cola Company, and Nelson Entertainment Inc. to co-finance the picture for a possible release date in early 1988. (Coca-Cola Company, and Nelson Entertainment Inc. are not credited onscreen.) By this time, the picture had to be totally recast with Kathleen Turner, Michael Caine, and Christopher Reeve.

Under director Ted Kotcheff, principal photography began on 20 April 1987 and would include locations in Chicago, Toronto, and Montréal. Michael Caine would not arrive in Toronto for filming until he had completed filming on JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987). However, after filming around Caine’s absence for two and a half weeks, Caine was unable to stay with the production due to a scheduling conflict. Burt Reynolds replaced Caine, with the goal to complete principal photography by 28 June 1987, and before the fall 1987 due date of co-star Kathleen Turner’s pregnancy.

Burt Reynolds had long been a fan of Cary Grant and Grant had inspired Reynolds' performance in ROUGH CUT (1980). In doing the role of "John L. Sullivan IV" in this picture, Reynolds got to play a part once played by his idol Grant who had played the same role (as Walter Burns) in Howard Hawks earlier filmed version of the play, HIS GIRL FRIDAY.

Christopher Reeve apparently regretted making the movie. One of the main reasons he signed on was because Michael Caine was originally lined up to play “Sullivan,” and he had enjoyed working with him in DEATHTRAP (1982). Reeve also said that he took on the project because he was suffering post-divorce depression and believed that he had "made a fool of himself" in the film. 

Reportedly, Burt Reynolds and Kathleen Turner constantly fought during the filming of this movie. Reeve had to mediate between them. In a 2018 interview with David Marchese for the website Vulture, Kathleen Turner said quite frankly that working with Burt Reynolds on the set of SWITCHING CHANNELS was a very negative and divisive experience, and that Reynolds made her cry on the first shooting day by complaining that he refused to take second place to a woman.

The picture’s final scenes were to be shot in Hawaii after filming in Toronto was complete, and before an anticipated 30 June 1987 Directors Guild of America (DGA) strike. However, the location for the final scene was changed to Key Biscayne, FL, and principal photography concluded on 7 July 1987. The film’s budget was reported as between $13 million and $15 million.

A January 1988 preview screening of the picture in Thousand Oaks, CA, received an eighty-five percent rating of “good-excellent.” The picture opened 4 March 1988 and took in $3.1 million at the box-office during its opening weekend, averaging $3,215 per screen. But overall, the box-office returns were poor, with the picture returning less than $10 million.

Michel Legrand’s score for the film has not has a release.

  Christopher Reeve, Kathleen Turner, and Burt Reynolds in SWITCHING CHANNELS

Christopher Reeve, Kathleen Turner, and Burt Reynolds in SWITCHING CHANNELS

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After FUZZ and SWITCHING CHANNELS, producer Martin Ransohoff worked with Burt Reynolds for the third and last time in the 1989 thriller PHYSICAL EVIDENCE. In this film, Reynolds plays “Joe Paris,” a police officer suspended and now accused of murder who must join forces with his court-appointed attorney (Theresa Russell) to assemble the pieces of a deadly puzzle before time runs out. 

Budgeted between $11-12 million, the picture was the second of a three-project deal to be produced by Martin Ransohoff, with partners Rank Film Distributors Ltd., Vestron Video, and Columbia Pictures. A ten-week shoot was expected to take place in Canada and Seattle, WA.

The picture was originally conceived as a sequel to 1985’s JAGGED EDGE to be titled, “Jagged Edge II,” with lead roles intended for Robert Loggia and Glenn Close. However, while in development, Columbia Pictures' new studio chief, David Puttnam, was reportedly uninterested in producing sequels, so the script was rewritten with different characters. When Puttnam later changed his mind about creating a sequel to JAGGED EDGE, Ransohoff hired writers to develop a screenplay, but the sequel was never made.

In searching for a female co-star for Reynolds, after considering all the possibilities, producer Ransohoff went outside Hollywood's mainstream to select the highly regarded London-based film actress Theresa Russell, who was best known for her performance in BLACK WIDOW (1987), and for her roles in pictures made by director Nicolas Roeg. Ned Beatty also co-starred, in his seventh film with Reynolds.

Principal photography on PHYSICAL EVIDENCE began on 28 September 1987, according to a Variety production chart, which listed Seattle, WA, as a location. However, the 30 October 1987 Hollywood Reporter reported that filmmakers had decided to shoot in Boston instead, and in the nearby town of Chelsea, MA, with filming taking place at the Tobin Bridge and the Boston Fish Pier. Production notes list additional locations in Toronto and Montreal.

Speaking of his Joe Paris character in the film, Burt Reynolds said: "This seems to be the first true victim I've played in movies. He's a dedicated cop who has lost his temper, lost his job and now he is about to lose his freedom. He's a loner who drinks too much and is emotionally volatile. Joe is not a particularly sympathetic character. Rather than coming to the rescue and taking charge, this time I must turn to someone else to try to bail me out, and it's not just that she's a woman that creates the conflict. Joe and Jenny are as different as night and day."

Michael Crichton directed the film, his last as a credited director. Henry Mancini scored the picture, his fifth for a Martin Ransohoff production. The score has not had a release. Box-office receipts for the film totaled $3.3 million after three weeks in release, according to the April 1989 issue of Boxoffice But in total, the film eked out only $12 million at the box office. 

  Theresa Russell and Burt Reynolds in PHYSICAL EVIDENCE

Theresa Russell and Burt Reynolds in PHYSICAL EVIDENCE

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BREAKING IN marked the American directorial debut of Scottish filmmaker Bill Forsyth. The film told the story of professional thief "Ernie" (Burt Reynolds) who takes "Mike" (Casey Siemaszko) on as an apprentice. But while Mike clearly has "larceny in his heart", it will take him a long time to get as good as Ernie.

Reynolds, who was fifty-three years old at the time, gained thirty pounds and spent three hours per day in makeup to create the appearance of a man in his sixties. 

Although the comedy-drama garnered positive reviews, it was a financial failure, earning only $1.3 million in its first two weeks, as reported in the 29 October 1989 Los Angeles Times. Reynolds blamed the studio (Samuel Goldwyn) for releasing the picture in 400 theaters, rather than allowing it to build word-of-mouth by debuting in a few cities. He explained that the modest, $5 million production was unable to compete in wide release with higher-budgeted films.

The film's score, by Michael Gibbs, has not had a release.

  Casey Siemaszko and Burt Reynolds in BREAKING IN

Casey Siemaszko and Burt Reynolds in BREAKING IN

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In 1988, United Kingdom-based Goldcrest Film & Television teamed with Dublin, Ireland-based Sullivan Bluth Studios Ireland Ltd. (SBSI) to co-finance a slate of three animated feature films for $70 million, with Goldcrest providing $40 million in production funds and SBSI contributing $30 million for prints, advertising, and merchandising consignment. Director Don Bluth’s ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN was set to be the first project, with a budget of $13 million.

The earliest idea for the film was conceived by Don Bluth after finishing work on THE SECRET OF NIMH (1982). The treatment was originally about a canine private eye, and one of three short stories making up an anthology film. The character of a shaggy German Shepherd was designed specifically with Burt Reynolds in mind for the role. However, Bluth's first studio, Don Bluth Productions, was going through a period of financial difficulty, ultimately having to declare bankruptcy, and the idea never made it beyond rough storyboards.

In the story, "Charlie B. Barkin" (Burt Reynolds), a rascally German Shepherd with a shady past, breaks out of the New Orleans Dog Pound with the help of his faithful friend "Itchy" (Dom De Luise), a nervously hyperactive dachshund. He then makes tracks to reunite with his gambling casino partner "Carface Malone" (Vic Tayback), a shifty pitbull who has planned a dastardly, and potentially deadly, double cross.

The film marked the sixth and final collaboration between Reynolds and Dom DeLuise. The pair, who had developed a rapport after starring in five movies together, insisted that Don Bluth leave the room during recording sessions so that they could improvise off one another better. Bluth agreed and allowed Reynolds and DeLuise to ad-lib extensively. Bluth later commented "their ad-libs were often better than the original script". Reynolds was more complimentary of the draft, saying "Great script, kid", as he left the studio.

The 1989 film was released two days after THE LITTLE MERMAID, an animated picture from Walt Disney, where Don Bluth had worked as an animator until 1979. Bluth, along with fellow filmmakers John Pomeroy and Gary Goldman, left the studio for artistic reasons, believing that Disney’s animation had degenerated into “something quite inane.” Critics made frequent mention of the competition between ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN and THE LITTLE MERMAID, and a negative review in the New York Timessuggested Bluth’s film should “roll over and play dead” after the “formidable wake” of THE LITTLE MERMAID’s opening two days. 

The Times went on to accuse David N. Weiss’s screenplay of being “unfocused and overcomplicated,” while the Los Angeles Times review criticized Charles Strouse’s songs as being “eminently unhummable.” The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the film more favorably, predicting it would be a box-office success, praising its expressive character animation, and stating that the film “comes closer than any other recent animated feature in recapturing the depth and scale of classic works.” The film did ultimately earn a small profit, grossing $26 million, but that was barely a fifth of the gross for THE LITTLE MERMAID.

Ralph Burns' score shared space on the Curb Records soundtrack CD with Charles Strouse's songs, four of which featured vocals by Burt Reynolds.

  Burt Reynolds voiced "Charlie R. Barkin" in ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN

Burt Reynolds voiced "Charlie R. Barkin" in ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN

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MODERN LOVE began as a film school project at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC, where producer-director-writer-actor Robbie Benson taught in the theater department. After a 1984 heart operation sidelined his career as a young Hollywood actor, Benson was asked by University of South Carolina President James Holderman to teach as an “artist in residence” at the school’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Benson, his singer-actress wife, Karla DeVito, and daughter Lyric moved there in 1988. 

The following year, Benson began a movie-making course that covered all aspects from script writing to post-production. Money was raised, and Benson enlisted friends Burt Reynolds, Rue McClanahan, Kaye Ballard, and Louise Lasser, to work for union “scale” instead of their regular salaries. Sony’s SVS, Inc. signed an all-rights, full financing pact for MODERN LOVE. Students worked on the film crew and appeared in small roles or as background actors. Principal photography began 17 April 1989. Trouble arose after filming began, however, when school officials questioned Benson’s $63,630 annual salary, along with living expenses, and President Holderman’s "lavish” spending. After Holderman was forced to resign in 1990, he was indicted for “using a public office for personal gain and accepting extra compensation.”

In the film, modern marriage is examined as "Greg" (Benson), an anxious guy, must deal with the pressures and responsibilities of marriage, pregnancy, fatherhood and family life in general. Karla DeVito plays the attractive young "Dr. Billie Parker," with whom Greg falls in love. Burt Reynolds is Billie’s father, U.S. Army Colonel "Frank Parker," who at one point takes Greg for a stroll and jokes that he will harm Greg if he does not take care of his "little Billie."

The film opened on 22 June 1990. Don Peake's music score has not had a release. 

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Burt Reynolds returned to network television in 1989, when he starred in the detective drama "B.L. Stryker". The series was part of an ABC-TV "umbrella" program called the "Mystery Movie", which also included the new series "Gideon Oliver" and "Christine Cromwell", as well as new episodes of such venerable series as "Columbo" (which moved from NBC over to ABC) and 'Kojak" (which filmed five new television movies for ABC, 10 years after its cancellation by CBS).

In the series, Reynolds portrays "Buddy Lee Stryker," aka "B.L.," a Vietnam war vet and retired New Orleans police officer who has moved back home to the other side of the tracks in Palm Beach, Florida and is working as a private investigator. Stryker lives on a houseboat and drives an old Caddy, and occasionally scrapes up a client while trying to avoid being relocated for not paying his slip fees. A character called "Mitch Slade," a Ferrari-driving private detective, was added as a in-joke for the series, because one of the series co-executive producers was Tom Selleck.

The "Mystery Movie" first appeared on ABC in February 1989, filling in the slot vacated by "Monday Night Football" after the season had ended. In the Fall of 1989, it gained a regular spot in the schedule, on Saturday, as "The ABC Saturday Mystery Movie." The series had some stiff competition, going up against "The Golden Girls" and "Empty Nest", the #6 and #9 highest-rated series on television that year. "Mystery Movie" was canceled in 1990. ABC kept only "Columbo" in production, and Peter Falk starred in an additional fourteen films before the network discontinued the series in 2003.

With three of the "Mystery Movie" series always in rotation, "B.L. Stryker" produced only twelve 2-hour episodes over its two-year run. Burt Reynolds also directed three episodes. Reportedly, this TV series generated more income for Florida's Palm Beach County ($48 million) than any other movie or TV filmed production in that area.

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With the end of "B.L. Stryker," Burt Reynolds moved immediately into a new television series--one completely different from any he had attempted before. "Evening Shade' was a sitcom in which Reynolds starred as "Wood Newton", an ex-professional football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who returns to rural Evening Shade, Arkansas, to coach a high-school football team with a long losing streak. Reynolds personally requested to use the Steelers as his character's former team, because he was a fan.

Wood and his wife, "Ava" (Marilu Henner), whom he married when she was only 18 (a frequently voiced grievance by her father, "Evan Evans" (Hal Holbrook), the owner of the local newspaper), are devoted to one another despite the age difference. Ava is an ambitious and successful practicing lawyer who in the first season is elected District Attorney while pregnant with their fourth (unintended) child. Among Wood's and Ava's closest friends are the somewhat older "Harlan Eldridge" (Charles Durning), the town doctor, and his trusting wife, "Merleen" (Ann Wedgeworth), who is always eager to believe the best of people.

The general theme of the show was the appeal of small-town life. Episodes often ended with a closing narration by Ossie Davis, as his character "Ponder Blue," summing up the events of the episode, always closing with "... in a place called Evening Shade." Reynolds had worked before with Marilu Henning in two films, and with Charles Durning in four. "Evening Shade" was produced in association with CBS Productions, Burt Reynolds Productions, and MTM Enterprises. CBS retained full ownership of the series while MTM syndicated the series in the United States.

The show premiered on CBS on Monday, 21 September 1990 at 8 PM. It held its own against its competition,--"MacGyver" on ABC and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on NBC--with none of the three cracking the top 30 shows of the season.

In its second season (1991-92), even though "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" moved into the top thirty, at #22 for the year, "Evening Shade" really came into its own, finishing the season as the #15 rated show.

The situation was somewhat reversed in the 1992-93 season, with "Fresh Price" moving up to the #16 position, while "Evening Shade" dropped to #19. (ABC's entry into the time slot, "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles", did not survive.)

In "Evening Shade"'s fourth and final season (1993-94), "Fresh Price' dropped to #21, but "Evening Shade" dropped even further to #29, and was cancelled after 98 episodes. Skyrocketing production costs, mainly attributed to the large salaries of the show's top-caliber, all-star cast, were the primary reason given for the cancellation (which was confirmed by Marilu Henner in her September 1994 appearance on Charlie Rose). However, some have speculated that the show's ending was a decision made by Reynolds, rather than CBS, as his recent marriage troubles with Loni Anderson (from whom he was divorced in 1993) were thought to have impacted his work.

  The cast of EVENING SHADE

The cast of EVENING SHADE

  Burt Reynolds and Marilu Henner in EVENING SHADE

Burt Reynolds and Marilu Henner in EVENING SHADE

While "Evening Shade" was in production, Burt Reynolds limited his other work to a cameo appearance as himself in Robert Altman's 1992 Hollywood-set film THE PLAYER, and to doing some voice-over work for a syndicated family series called "Out of this World"

That series had Reynolds playing "Troy Garland", a human-looking extraterrestrial, with many special powers, from the distant world of Antares Prime. He is an astronaut where he comes from. Troy met "Donna" (Donna Pescow) when his spacecraft crashed on Earth at some point in the late 1960's or early 1970's. The two fell in love and were married in 1971; two years later, Donna gave birth to "Evie" (Maureen Flannigan). The year after that, Troy was recalled to participate in a war which raged on Antares. Since then, Troy occasionally visits Earth... staying in touch with his daughter via a special communication device known as the "cube". 

"Out of This World" aired from September 17, 1987 and ended on May 25, 1991. Burt Reynolds asked that his name be left off the series' credits, since he was doing it as a favor to the producers.

On 10 August 1990, Daily Variety announced that Imagine Films Entertainment paid a six-figure sum for writer Arne Olsen’s script for COP & ½, outbidding offers from Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and several other unnamed companies. The story concerned a young boy named Devon, who after witnessing a murder, refuses to testify unless he is given the chance to be a policeman. 

Although Imagine had a first-look production and distribution deal with Universal, the company secured the property on its own, without additional financial backing. Production was originally expected to begin in late 1990 or early 1991. The following year, Variety reported that Henry Winkler, longtime friend and "Happy Days" co-star of Imagine founder Ron Howard, had been hired to direct. 

Imagine co-chairman Brian Grazer offered Macaulay Culkin $1.5 million to play eight-year-old “Devon Butler” after he completed shooting the company’s current feature, MY GIRL. At the time, Culkin was also in negotiations to star in Warner Bros. Pictures’ RICHIE RICH and Fox’s sequel to HOME ALONE, for which he requested salaries of $4-5 million. Over the next several months, it was reported that Culkin and lead star Kurt Russell were both dissatisfied with the long-delayed script changes, and left the picture to pursue other projects. It was suggested that Imagine could not meet Culkin’s salary demands, and the part was rewritten for a girl. Once Russell dropped out, Arne Olsen offered the lead role to James Caan and once again changed the gender of the child character. Filming was rescheduled for March 1992.

Two casting sessions were held on 11 January and 18 January 1992 in Florida and Hollywood for the "Devon Butler" part. Norman D. Golden II, a star on Fox Television's "True Colors", was one of four finalists among 1,500 child actors at the Hollywood casting call. Golden was selected to make his feature film debut in COP & ½ after screen testing with Burt Reynolds, who had been cast as detective “Nick McKenna” in early 1992. Reynolds said he mainly did the film to have a movie that his son Quinton could see with him in it.

Production took place in Tampa, FL, at the insistence of Reynolds, a long-time Floridian. Imagine agreed, because of positive experiences they had in the state during the recent filming of PARENTHOOD and MY GIRL, and planned to utilize the motion picture facilities at Universal Studios Florida. Exteriors of “Nick McKenna’s” apartment were shot in the Ybor City area, while the clock tower building of Old City Hall doubled as the downtown police headquarters. After three months in Tampa, the $14 million production completed principal photography in Los Angeles.

Upon its opening on 2 April 1993, the film received largely negative reviews, although Roger Ebert gave it a "thumbs up." The film came under fire from the media and parenting groups over a scene where Norman Golden II is dunked headfirst into a toilet and flushed by two bullies. Many thought the scene was in poor taste given Golden's African-American heritage. Burt Reynolds was quizzed over the scene and its apparent controversy. Reynolds said that, unlike his other films, where he was involved as a producer or director, he was simply the hired hand on this film and had no control over the script.

COP & ½ covered its costs, grossing $31 million. Norman D. Golden II was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Actor Under Ten in a Motion Picture for his role in this film. Ross Malinger won for SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE. Alan Silvestri's score for the film has not had a release.

  Burt Reynolds and Norman Golden II in COP & ½

Burt Reynolds and Norman Golden II in COP & ½

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Burt Reynolds had a featured role in 1996's CITIZEN RUTH, a film from cult director Alexander Payne. The film follows "Ruth Stoops" (Laura Dern), an irresponsible, drug-addicted, recently impregnated woman, who finds herself in the middle of an abortion debate when both parties attempt to sway her to their respective sides. Reynolds plays "Blaine Gibbons," a possibly-pedophiliac anti-abortion leader. 

This film marked the reunion of Laura Dern and Burt Reynolds in a theatrical movie. Reynolds' WHITE LIGHTNING (1973) had been Dern's uncredited film debut. Dern was just six years old when she appeared in a brief non-speaking walk-on bit part. In WHITE LIGHTNING, Dern played the daughter of her real life mother Diane Ladd, who played "Maggie." Now, 23 years later, it was Dern who had the lead role and Reynolds was playing a supporting part.

Even for a low-budget independent film, CITIZEN RUTH performed poorly at the box office, with only $337,000 in ticket sales. Rolfe Kent's score has not had a release.

  Burt Reynolds in CITIZEN RUTH (with Kurtwood Smith on his left)

Burt Reynolds in CITIZEN RUTH (with Kurtwood Smith on his left)

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In STRIPTEASE, stripper and single mother "Erin Grant" (Demi Moore) gets dragged into a dangerous situation after Congressman "David Dilbeck" (Burt Reynolds) takes a fancy to her. Reynolds was not originally sought by the production for the part of the politician. He wanted the part badly and so contacted Castle Rock studio head Rob Reiner personally and went to Miami to audition. To secure the part, he took a salary considerably lower than what he had received during the heyday of his career.

Reynolds based his character and performance on real-life politicians he had known from his early years through his police chief father in Florida. Andrew Bergman directed the 1996 film. Howard shore's score did not make an appearance on the song-track CD released by EMI Capitol. 

The film had a production cost of $50 million. Demi Moore alone was paid $12.5 million for the film, a record fee for an actress at the time. STRIPTEASE earned just $33 million at the domestic box office. But fortunately for the producers, the film was more popular overseas than in American theaters, drawing in an additional $80 million from its foreign venues.

  Burt Reynolds in STRIPTEASE

Burt Reynolds in STRIPTEASE

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MAD DOG TIME was loaded with an all-star cast, which included Ellen Barkin, Gabriel Byrne, Richard Dreyfuss, Jeff Goldblum, and Diane Lane. Even the smaller parts were populated with names: Joey Bishop, Kyle MacLachlan, Henry Silva, Michael J. Pollard, Gregory Hines, Billy Idol, Billy Drago, Christopher Jones, and Burt Reynolds. 

In this crime comedy, set in the 1950s, a mob kingpin named "Vic" (Richard Dreyfuss) is returning to the world after a stay in a mental hospital, where he was judged to be a paranoid schizophrenic (or in his own words, 'loony'). In Vic's absence, various lieutenants have been jockeying for power, and a bloodbath is in the offing. Jeff Goldblum plays Vic's wily, cooler-than-cool chief of staff, "Mickey," who has been watching over (and sleeping with) his boss's girlfriend, "Grace" (Diane Lane). At the same time, he has been carrying on an affair with Grace's pathologically jealous older sister, "Rita" (Ellen Barkin). Another gang leader, "Jacky" (Burt Reynolds), is also looking to move in on the head man's territory.

Writer-director Larry Bishop is the son of comic Joey Bishop. Earl Roses's score for the film did not get a release. The 1996 film received terrible reviews, with Roger Ebert, in a zero star review, commenting that it was "the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time." The film was barely seen by anyone but the critics, with only $80,000 of recorded ticket sales.

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Burt Reynolds co-starred with James Coburn, Gregory Hines, A. Martinez, and Ernie Hudson in the made-for-television comedy western THE CHEROKEE KID. In the film, the family of Isiah Turner (Kareem R. Woods) is slaughtered by a land grabbing railroad tycoon (Coburn). On the run and out for revenge, the young boy seeks refuge with a notorious ornery mountain man, Otter Bob (Reynolds). 

The boy meets another outlaw in "Nat Love" (Hudson). The two pair up, and soon Turner is invited to ride with Love’s gang. There he learns to ride and shoot and becomes "The Cherokee Kid" (played by the comic Sinbad). He gains fame and notoriety from robbing banks owned by the railroad tycoon. Forced to handle this thieving outlaw, the tycoon calls in the services of "The Undertaker" (Hines) to kill The Cherokee Kid.

Paris Barclay directed this film, which aired on HBO on 14 December 1996. Stanley Clarke's score has not had a release.

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Rowan Atkinson brought his noted "Mr. Bean" character from BBC television to American theater screens in 1997's BEAN. In the film, the bumbling Mr. Bean travels to America when he is given the responsibility of bringing a highly valuable painting of Whistler's Mother to its new owner--a high-class military officer (Burt Reynolds in a short cameo). The producers were initially looking for an unknown actor to play "General Newton." But being a fan of the TV series, Burt Reynolds asked for a role and was then cast to appear as Newton.

Mel Smith directed the film. Only one track from Howard Goodall's score appeared on the song-track CD released by Mercury Records.

   Burt Reynolds in BEAN


Burt Reynolds in BEAN

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BOOGIE NIGHTS was the story of a young man's adventures in the Californian pornography industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The ensemble cast was headed by Mark Wahlberg, whose boyish yet defiled look made him a natural to play a porn star. He is "Eddie Adams," a young man of unique physical endowments. "Everyone's blessed with one special thing," he says. 

The 1997 picture follows a handful of characters as they leave the hedonistic yet oddly innocent '70s and enter the more cold-blooded, commercial '80s. Typical of that journey is Burt Reynolds as "Jack Horner," a sleazy but paternal porn director who starts off wanting to make "artistic" porn films and winds up making them on cheap video.

Burt Reynolds hated the idea of doing a movie promoting the porn industry, and turned the Jack Horner role down seven times. He also felt like he was selling out, and letting his old fans down. After angrily telling writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson the last time offered, he wasn't interested, and to leave him alone, Anderson told him if he could carry that attitude with him to the role, he would be nominated for an Oscar.

Paul Thomas Anderson spent a year hanging out with porn actor Ron Jeremy to research the film. Jeremy was originally going to have a cameo in the film, which entailed being in a prison cell with The Colonel James (Robert Ridgely), but it got cut. Jeremy told The Independent that during the film's production, he invited Anderson and the cast to "a lot of my sets, but Burt Reynolds never came. He said, 'I know porn: I don't need to see that.'"

Reynolds told a different story, saying in a Maxim magazine interview that he researched his role by visiting porn sets, and talking with real porn actors. He said the experience made him want to wear rubber gloves and take a shower afterward, and all the porn actors asked him how to get a Screen Actors Guild card.

Reynolds may have been on to something with his feeling that BOOGIE NIGHTS would not be his fans' type of film. According to William H. Macy, the scene where "Dirk Diggler" (Wahlberg) wins the Golden Phallus Award was filmed with about one hundred extras, who had shown up in their own 1970s clothes. They weren't told what kind of movie they were in, only that it was a film featuring Burt Reynolds. The crowd was told to applaud after "Jessie St. Vincent" (Melora Walters) had announced Diggler as the winner. However, after Walters added some explicit sexual profanity to her line, there was a stunned silence. Subsequently, about half of the extras got up and left the set, not to return again. This caused some delay in filming, in order to reassemble another crowd of extras; so when they finally resumed filming, director Paul Thomas Anderson took great care to explain to the new crowd what they were in for.

   Burt Reynolds and Mark Wahlberg in BOOGIE NIGHTS


Burt Reynolds and Mark Wahlberg in BOOGIE NIGHTS

According to an interview with Paul Thomas Anderson, he and Burt Reynolds did not get along during filming. At one point, an angry Reynolds threw a punch at Anderson, because he felt that the director was disrespecting him. The film's First Assistant Director, John Wildermuth, tells this story: "Burt got so frustrated he pulled Paul outside into the backyard and started yelling at him, like a father, you know? 'You f--kin' little punk kid, don't tell me what to do.'" Actor Tom Lenk added, "All of a sudden we saw fists flying. We saw some fists flying from Burt Reynolds. I hope I don't get in trouble for saying this, but it was like he was trying to punch our director in the face." Reynolds was also involved in a heated scuffle with actor Thomas Jane. Anderson and Mark Wahlberg have suggested that Reynolds was on drugs during filming.

After seeing a rough cut of the film, Reynolds regretted making it. He fired his agent for recommending the role to him, and did not participate in promotional interviews. Reynolds ended up winning a Golden Globe for the role, and being nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his performance. Despite being a front runner for the latter, it was widely rumored that he did not win because he had distanced himself from the movie earlier.

In later interviews, Reynolds said of Anderson that "Personality-wise, we didn't fit. I think mostly because he was young and full of himself. Every shot we did, it was like the first time that shot had ever been done. I remember the first shot we did in BOOGIE NIGHTS, where I drive the car to Grauman's Theater. After that he said, 'Isn't that amazing?' And I named five pictures that had the same kind of shot. It wasn't original. But if you have to steal, steal from the best." Reynolds further claimed that Anderson offered him a part in MAGNOLIA (1999), which he turned down. "I'd done my picture with Paul Thomas Anderson, that was enough for me," Reynolds said.

BOOGIE NIGHTS was not a film for general audiences, and drew only about $26 million in receipts. Only one track from Michael Penn's score appeared on the song-track CD from Capitol/EMI Records. The soundtrack was so popular, and there were so many songs used in the film, that a second CD of additional songs was released four months later.

  Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg, and Heather Graham in BOOGIE NIGHTS

Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg, and Heather Graham in BOOGIE NIGHTS

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Two bored suburban kids looking for something to do get trapped in the wrong kind of excitement in the independent drama PUPS. "Stevie" (Cameron Van Hoy) is a boy in his early teens, depressed and out of sorts, who half-heartedly attempts suicide without having the wherewithal to go the whole nine yards. When his girlfriend "Raquel 'Rocky' Silver "(Mischa Barton) shows up on her way to school, Stevie has just found his mother's gun while poking around the house. As they head off for class, Stevie brings the pistol along. 

They pass a bank along the way, and Stevie impulsively dashes in and decides to rob the place. Before Stevie and Rocky can get away, police arrive on the scene, and Stevie announces he's taking the customers inside the bank hostage. FBI negotiator "Daniel Bender" (Burt Reynolds) and "Agent Hardy" (Hardia Madden) are sent to the scene of the crime.

Financed by a Japanese production company but written, directed, and starring American talent, PUPS had its premier screening at the 1999 Los Angeles Independent Film Festival -- only two days before two armed high school students went on a tragic killing spree in Littleton, CO.

Ash Baron-Cohen directed this 1999 film, which has an unreleased score by Erran Baron Cohen. The film was only released in a few cities, and there are only $5,000 of verified ticket sales.

  Hardia Madden and Burt Reynolds in PUPS

Hardia Madden and Burt Reynolds in PUPS

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MYSTERY, ALASKA is a comedy about the residents of a small town who get over-excited when their hockey team gets chosen to play in a televised exhibition game against the New York Rangers. "Charles Danner" (Hank Azaria) is a native son who forsook his hometown for New York City to become a television producer. But he has returned to push this promotional scheme that he believes will benefit the town of Mystery. Russell Crowe is "John Biebe," the star of the local team.

Among the colorful locals are the town's mayor, "Scott Pitcher" (Colm Meaney); "Skank Marden" (Ron Eldard), the local team's resident stud who blithely cuckolds Pitcher; the local judge, "Walter Burns" (Burt Reynolds); and his wife, "Joanne" (Judith Ivey).

Burt Reynolds' character name "Walter Burns" is the same as Cary Grant's newspaper editor character in HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940). 

Jay Roach directed this 1999 film. Carter Burwell's score has not had a release. The film did poorly at the box office, grossing only $8.9 million.

  Burt Reynolds in MYSTERY, ALASKA

Burt Reynolds in MYSTERY, ALASKA

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Four retired mobsters plan one last crime to save their retirement home in the comedy THE CREW. The four are "Bobby Bartellemeo" (Richard Dreyfuss), "Joey 'Bats' Pistella" (Burt Reynolds), "Mike 'The Brick' Donatelli" (Dan Hedaya), and "Tony 'Mouth' Donato" (Seymour Cassel).

Michael Dinner directed the film from a Barry Fanaro screenplay. Steve Bartek's score has not had a release.

The 2000 film met with generally poor reviews, while the critics seemed split on Burt Reynolds' performance. The San Francisco Chronicle opined that "Only Burt Reynolds, as a mean- spirited old gangster stuck in the living hell of retirement in Miami's South Beach, manages to find a comic groove." But the New York Times wondered "what in creation possessed the filmmakers to cast Mr. Reynolds as a mafioso, other than the fact that once, before much of the current film audience was born, he was hailed as the next Brando? In any case Mr. Reynolds, who has often mistaken lack of effort for effortlessness, sits around looking bored, except when he is knocked unconscious. The gag is that when he wakes up, Bats hatches the gang's next brilliant scheme. The movie seems to have been made by a similar method." And Roger Ebert, in a one-and-a-half star review stated that "Dreyfuss and Reynolds should instruct their agents to reject all further mob 'comedies' on sight. The later stages of their careers cannot withstand another one."

THE CREW did not crack the top 100 releases at the 2000 box office, grossing only $13 million.

  Richard Dreyfuss, Seymour Cassel, Dan Hedaya, and Burt Reynolds in THE CREW

Richard Dreyfuss, Seymour Cassel, Dan Hedaya, and Burt Reynolds in THE CREW

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An old-time movie mogul struggles to re-enter the club where power and money make the rules in THE LAST PRODUCER. Burt Reynolds plays "Sonny Wexler," who was making movies back in the glory days of Hollywood. He is now a has been. But he has fallen on a great script written by "Bo Pomerantz" (Sean Astin). Wexler has friends at the studio who want to help him make the movie but they aren't in charge; "Damon Black" (Benjamin Bratt), a real S.O.B., is now the studio head. Ann Margret is Sonny's wife, "Mira" and Rod Steiger is tough guy "Sheri Ganse."

Reynolds also directed this film, his fifth and last directorial effort. Although the film may have been produced for theatrical release, there is no evidence that it played anywhere except on television or video. In America, it first aired on the USA cable network on 9 February 2001. Peter Manning Robinson scored the film.

  Lauren Holly and Burt Reynolds in THE LAST PRODUCER

Lauren Holly and Burt Reynolds in THE LAST PRODUCER

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Two of the biggest stars of the 1970s and 1980s, Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds teamed up in Renny Harlin's 2001 car racing film DRIVEN. Stallone plays "Joe Tanto," a former racing champion lured back to the pits by wheel-chair bound team boss "Carl Henry" (Reynolds) to nurture his young star driver, "Jimmy Bly" (Kip Pardue). Naturally there's loads of women floating around; an interchangeable track tart (Estella Warren), Tanto's vampish ex (Gina Gershon), and a starstruck reporter (Stacey Edwards). But you can forget about the women right away because Stallone (who wrote the screenplay) and Harlin focus on the action on the track.

BT (Brian Wayne Transeau) scored the film, but only one track of his score appeared on the Curb Records song-track CD.

Director Harlin was apparently trying to do for CART Champ Cars what GRAND PRIX did for Formula One cars. His initial cut of the film was four hours long. The 116-minute version that went into release drove to a $33 million gross at the U.S. box office and another $22 million overseas. Decent, but hardly enough to offset the massive budget. 

  Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds in DRIVEN

Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds in DRIVEN

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For 2002's HOTEL, producer-director Mike Figgis gathered a large ensemble of actors in Venice, put them up in a hotel with no star treatment, no costumes, and no script. Based around a loose structure, they were challenged as an ensemble to come up with ideas and material and develop their own characters. At the end of each day, they would gather and review what they had filmed on digital video, building on it with new situations and characters as more star actors turned up on the location (John Malkovich, Burt Reynolds, and Lucy Liu make cameo appearances). It was a very risky way to make a film and was certainly doomed to having no commercial appeal whatsoever, but this did not deter those involved.

The story that evolved is along the following lines: A British film crew descends on an eerie Art Deco hotel in Venice, where a cast and crew have gathered for a Dogma-style adaptation of John Webster's Jacobean tragedy The Duchess Of Malfi. Appropriately, a power struggle ensues between tyrannical director Rhys Ifans and producer David Schwimmer, leading to an assassination attempt that leaves Ifans in a coma. As Schwimmer takes over directing duties, he also makes a play for Ifans' girlfriend, lead actress Saffron Burrows, and drives the flailing production team close to mutiny. Yet his scheming is mild in comparison to the sinister goings-on at the hotel, where members of the staff (including Julian Sands and Chiara Mastroianni) regularly abduct guests for kinky, macabre purposes. Burt Reynolds' character is called "The Flamenco Manager."

Shelved without a distributor for nearly two years after its debut at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival, HOTEL finally got a limited U.S. release in July 2003 from Innovation Film Group. Recorded ticket sales were about $29,000.

Mike Figgis and Anthony Marinelli scored the film.

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Trouble is brewing in Johnson County with the arrival of "Lord Peter" (Christopher Cazenove), a cattle baron whose wealth and connections lead the Governor to hire gunman "Hunt Lawton" (Burt Reynolds) as sheriff. But Lawton turns out to be on the side of Lord Peter, who, along with his men led by "Jesse Jacklin" (Jack Conley), are trying to get the farmers and small ranchers out of the area. In the midst of what is becoming the JOHNSON COUNTY WAR are the "Hammett" brothers; the respected "Cain" (Tom Berenger), his sheep farming brother "Dale" (Adam Storke), and the not always innocent "Harry" (Luke Perry). Refusing to be bullied off of the land which is rightly theirs, they make a stand. Also in the cast is Rachel Ward as a tough but likable prostitute.

David S. Cass Sr. directed this 3-hour western saga, which was made for the Hallmark Channel, airing on 24 August 2002. Sheldon Mirowitz scored the film. 

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Burt Reynolds and Mary Tyler Moore co-starred in the 2002 family drama MISS LETTIE AND ME. In the film, the life of a physically and emotionally isolated woman (Moore) brightens considerably when her feisty grandniece (Holliston Coleman) visits. Reynolds plays "Samuel Madison," a man who finally begins to get close to the reserved "Lettie Anderson." 

Ian Barry directed the film, which was produced for Turner Network Television. Alan Williams provided the score.

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Burt Reynolds headlined the 2003 made-for-television western HARD GROUND. The film follows "Billy Bucklin" (David Figlioli), who escapes while being transported to Yuma prison and plans to form an army of desperadoes to control the Mexican border. To finance his band, he robs a stagecoach, kidnaps a beautiful woman (Amy Jo Johnson) to be sold into prostitution, and steals an army payroll wagon. Aging Sheriff "Hutch Hutchinson" (Bruce Dern) persuades the governor to parole his brother-in-law, "John 'Chill' McKay" (Reynolds) now serving a 20-year prison term for murder, to assist him and his green deputy (Seth Peterson) to destroy the marauders.

Frank Q. Dobbs directed and co-wrote the film, which first aired on the Hallmark Channel on 12 July 2003. Joe Kraemer scored the film. 

  Burt Reynolds in HARD GROUND

Burt Reynolds in HARD GROUND

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In Adam Sandler's 2005 remake of the 1974 Burt Reynolds hit THE LONGEST YARD, Reynolds eases into the role of "Nate Scarborough," an aging convict doing time and making time to help "Paul Crewe" (Sandler) learn the ropes at a Texas prison, where the warden (James Cromwell) wants Paul to train the cons and then throw the big game to the guards, led by a vividly sadistic William Fichtner. Sandler has been disgraced in a point-shaving scam and jailed for stealing a Bentley belonging to his girl (Courteney Cox). At the urging of "Caretaker" (Chris Rock), Paul trains a team that includes the rapper Nelly and former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin. Nate becomes the team's coach.

Burt Reynolds and Ed Lauter are the only two actors from the original film to appear in this remake. Burt Reynolds wears number 22 as coach Nate Scarborough. This is the same number he wore in the original movie as quarterback Paul Crewe.

While he was on the set, announcer Chris Berman was asked if he could come up with unique nicknames for the movie's stars, since he was known for doing so with NFL players during highlights on ESPN. Berman came up with Adam "Love Letters In The" Sandler, Chris "Like A" Rock, and "Woah" Nelly ("Woah, Nelly!" was a signature call of college football broadcaster Keith Jackson). When asked to do Burt Reynolds, Berman promptly refused, saying, "I can't do one for Burt Reynolds. He's Burt Reynolds."

Reynolds was supposed to have a stunt double for when he got hit by Brian Bosworth on a touchdown run, but Reynolds insisted on doing it himself, saying "I got one run left in me." Bosworth himself was honored by the whole situation, saying "Who else can say they got run over by Burt Reynolds?" Reynolds went through the hit in one take with no injuries, though he had to be helped off the field. The shots in the movie of him being helped off of the field were real, and not faked for the cameras.

Peter Segal directed the film. None of Teddy Castellucci's score appeared on the rap song-track CD released by Derrty/Universal. THE LONGEST YARD was a smash hit, earning $158 million at the box office and ranking as the 12th highest grossing film of 2005.

  Burt Reynolds and Adam Sandler in THE LONGEST YARD (2005)

Burt Reynolds and Adam Sandler in THE LONGEST YARD (2005)

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The feature film version of the 1980s TV hit THE DUKES OF HAZZARD was just what you would expect it to be--an extended, super-sized version of the TV show. The Duke cousins - "Bo" (Seann William Scott) and "Luke" (Johnny Knoxville) - live a casually immoral life in the backwoods of Georgia, running illicit hooch for their wily "Uncle Jessie" (Willie Nelson) before retiring to the watering hole where shapely "Daisy Duke" (Jessica Simpson) tends bar. But things will change if the evil "Boss Hogg" (Burt Reynolds) has his way and turns Hazzard into a coal mine. Can the boys save the day, their home and Jessie's booze, and beat all-comers in the county's annual road rally?

After the success of the 'Starsky & Hutch' film, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson were offered the roles of Luke and Bo Duke. Neither accepted the offer, as they did not feel it paid tribute to the original series as Starsky & Hutch did. 
Similarly, the original Dukes - Tom Wopat, John Schneider and Catherine Bach - were all offered cameos in this movie. All three declined because they had read the screenplay and hated it.

Jay Chandrasekhar directed the film. Nathan Barr's score has appeared only as a composer promo. The commercial CD released by Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrax was strictly a country rock affair. THE DUKES OF HAZZARD did moderate business, grossing $80 million and ranking #26 at the box office for 2005.

  The cast of THE DUKES OF HAZZARD (l to r): M.C. Gainey, Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, Jessica Simpson, Seann William Scott, and Johnny Knoxville

The cast of THE DUKES OF HAZZARD (l to r): M.C. Gainey, Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, Jessica Simpson, Seann William Scott, and Johnny Knoxville

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"Dungeon Siege" started life as a computer role-playing game, developed by Gas Powered Games for Windows PC and Mac platforms and released in 2002 with a sequel in 2005 and, since 2006, in a version for PlayStation Portable. Some clever fellow thought it was the stuff movies are made of. And so one was, with the unwieldy title of IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE. The film has a vaguely medieval and mystical landscape, complete with castles, dungeons, moving forests and armies of Krug. It's like "Lord of the Rings" light.

The basic story is simple enough: A man known as "Farmer" (Jason Statham) was adopted by the local village as a boy. He farms. He has a lovely wife and strong boy. But deep in the forest, the Krug, normally man/beasts with nothing on their minds – literally – are attacking the countryside. This is because the evil wizard, "Gallian" (Ray Liotta), has big plans to rule the entire kingdom and he needs subjects. The Krug will do nicely since they seem to be killing off most of the men and capturing the women, children and anyone else handy for their dungeons – presumably to act as slaves. In their latest sweep the Krug kill Farmer's boy and steal his wife, "Solana" (Claire Forlani). Their friend, "Norrick" (Ron Perlman), is also captured.

Meanwhile, back at the castle, Gallian has been seducing "Muriella" (Leelee Sobieski), the daughter of the king's magus, "Merick" (John Rhys-Davies), so that he can suck out her latent powers. Gallian has also been stringing along "Duke Fallow" (Matthew Lillard) who lives for the day he will usurp the throne from his uncle, "King Konreid" (Burt Reynolds).

While filming an outdoor fight scene, Burt Reynolds grew overheated in his armored costume, became unconscious, and fell from the platform, on which the duel was being filmed. Reynolds claimed this was the only time in his career that he had to miss a day of filming, due to sickness or injury, which seems unlikely given some of his earlier mishaps.

Kevin Smith and Juliette Lewis were filming CATCH AND RELEASE on an adjoining set, and came to visit the set for this film. Burt Reynolds saw them steal two boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts.

The film was shot by director Uwe Boll in 2005, but didn't open in Europe until late 2007 and in the U.S. until early 2008. The film was a dud everywhere. In the U.S. it grossed only $4.8 million and overseas just $8.5 million. Interestingly, video sales of the film have exceeded its total international box office, with video alone bringing in $15 million. The film was scored by Henning Lohner and Jessica de Rooij. The film's soundtrack was released in Germany only, on Nuclear Blast Records, and is primarily rock, Goth, and heavy metal songs.

  John Rhys-Davies, Burt Reynolds, and Jason Statham in IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE

John Rhys-Davies, Burt Reynolds, and Jason Statham in IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE

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In 2008's DEAL, as ex-gambler "Tommy Vinson" (Burt Reynolds) teaches hot-shot college kid "Alex Stillman" (Bret Harrison) some things about playing cards, he finds himself pulled into the world series of poker, where his protégé is his toughest competition. 

Gil Cates Jr. directed and co-wrote this drama. Peter Rafelson's score was released by Lightyear Records. The film opened in 50 theaters, but earned a measly $62,000 over its total run.

  Burt Reynolds in DEAL

Burt Reynolds in DEAL

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CATEGORY 5 was one of the many disaster films that have been made for television and video release in the past decade. In this one, after a family survives Hurricane Katrina, "Charlie DuPuis" (C. Thomas Howell) and his wife "Ellie" (Lisa Sheridan), their son "Danny" (Matthew Boylan), and Charlie's father (Burt Reynolds) who is only referred to as "Pops"" discover there is another storm on the way, but this one is much, much worse.

Rob King directed the film, which was scored by Kennard Ramsey. Although the film had some television airings overseas, it is unclear whether it has appeared in the U.S.

   On the Set of CATEGORY 5 in Biloxi, Mississippi: Burt Reynolds, C. Thomas Howell and Nicholas Duncan


On the Set of CATEGORY 5 in Biloxi, Mississippi: Burt Reynolds, C. Thomas Howell and Nicholas Duncan

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POCKET LISTING is a satirical thriller about L.A.'s real estate roller coaster. "Jack Woodman" (James Jurdi) is a slick and hotshot Los Angeles property broker and real estate agent who appears on top of the world. But after getting greedy with a shady real estate deal, he ends up fired from a top broker firm by real-estate mogul "Ron Glass" (Burt Reynolds) and framed by Ron's menacing, drug-addled son, "Aaron" (Logan Fahey). As a result, Jack ends up being the owner of a rundown apartment slum building. One year later, the disgraced Jack is approached by a mysterious power player named "Frank Hunter" (Rob Lowe) and his sultry wife "Lana" (Jessica Clark) with an offer to discreetly market and sell their Malibu villa. This leads to double crosses, adultery, murder, mistaken identity, crooked deals and revenge. 

The title "Pocket Listing" refers to a real estate industry term which denotes a property where a broker holds a signed listing agreement (or contract) with the seller, but where it is never advertised nor entered into a multiple listing system, or where advertising is limited for an agreed-upon period of time.

Conor Allyn directed the film, which was written by star James Jurdi. Sean Murray provided the score. First released on television and video overseas, MGM and Orion Pictures acquired the film in December 2016 for video-on-demand release in the U.S. and for limited theatrical engagements. There is no evidence of the latter, however.

  Logan Fahey and Burt Reynolds in POCKET LISTING

Logan Fahey and Burt Reynolds in POCKET LISTING

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Write here…

Burt Reynolds' final regular "television" "appearance" was in the 2016 family sitcom "Hitting the Breaks". "Television" is used in quotes here because the series only appeared online. The show was touted as the first "Christian sitcom" and was accessible only through the Pure Flix Entertainment website. And "appearance" is in quotes because Reynolds only did voice overs for the show.

In the show, after race car driver "Randy Wilcox" (David A.R. White) crashes his car in a race, his family convinces him to retire. Thus, he decides to move to the bed and breakfast in rural Colorado that his father "Ron" (Burt Reynolds) willed to him. What the Wilcox family finds there is a lack of modern conveniences and a collection of quirky characters who live eccentric lives. 

Here's the promo for the show, which features some of Reynolds' voice work:

Reynolds most likely agreed to do the series because star David A.R. White had appeared as a child in 11 episodes of Reynolds' series "Evening Shade" 25 years earlier. Only 10 episodes of "Hitting the Breaks" were produced.

In THE LAST MOVIE STAR, when "Vic Edwards" (Burt Reynolds), a 1970s-era movie star who now lives a quiet lonely life as an old man, arrives at the "International Nashville Film Festival" to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award, he is chagrined (and furious) to discover that the fest was thrown together by a trio of 20-something film geeks, and hosted in the back of a bar. 

His "personal driver" is a loud-mouthed Goth girl named "Lil McDougal" (Ariel Winter of "Modern Family"), who has no idea who Vic is, and doesn't care. To Vic, the low-rent festival seems a commentary on his career failures. On opening night, with a small crowd of eager movie fans in attendance, he gets wasted and lashes out during the Q&A session. Vic demands Lil take him to the airport immediately, but on their way there, he asks her to detour to Knoxville, his birthplace. So begins Vic's journey down memory lane, with Lil in tow.

The film was written and directed by Alan Rifkin, the writer of such films as SMALL SOLDIERS and MOUSEHUNT and director of DETROIT ROCK CITY. Austin Wintory provided the score. The critically acclaimed film premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival where it was bought and briefly released by A24 this past March. 

Sheila O'Malley, writing on the Roger Ebert website says that "[Reynolds'] quiet monologue where he 'says goodbye' to Knoxville is so beautifully clear and true it seems 'captured' rather than 'performed.'"

  Chevy Chase and Burt Reynolds in THE LAST MOVIE STAR

Chevy Chase and Burt Reynolds in THE LAST MOVIE STAR

  Ariel Winter and Burt Reynolds in THE LAST MOVIE STAR

Ariel Winter and Burt Reynolds in THE LAST MOVIE STAR

Here's the film's trailer:

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THE LAST MOVIE STAR was Reynolds’ last film to play in a theater before his death. It remains to be seen whether his final project, a comedy called DEFINING MOMENTS, gets a theatrical release.

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Burt Reynolds was never a favorite of the critics. It was only the public who loved him:

  • America's Favorite All-Around Motion Picture Actor (People's Choice Award) for a record six consecutive years;

  • Most Popular Star for five years running; 

  • Star of the Year (National Association of Theatre Owners); and 

  • #1 Box Office Star for five years in a row, from 1978-82, equaling the record set by Bing Crosby from 1944-48.

    Reynolds was honored with the 2007 Taurus World Stunt Award for "Lifetime Achievement for an Action Movie Star" and received this special citation from the Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    He was the first actor ever asked to guest-host “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Prior to Reynolds, only comedians had been invited.

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Reynolds had a number of women in his life. He was married to English actress Judy Carne from 1963 to 1965. He and singer-actress Dinah Shore were in a relationship in the early 1970s for about five years. He had a relationship from about 1977 to 1982 with actress Sally Field. Reynolds was married to actress Loni Anderson from 1988 to 1993. They adopted a son, Quinton. He and Anderson separated after he fell in love with a cocktail waitress, with whom he later traded lawsuits which were settled out of court.

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Sally Field was perhaps the love of his life. Looking back on their relationship, Reynolds said, “I miss her terribly. Even now, it's hard on me. I don't know why I was so stupid. Men are like that, you know. You find the perfect person, and then you do everything you can to screw it up.” “I haven't seen her in 10 years and I'd like to very much. Because I'd like to tell her in person what I didn't know then. That is, how incredibly unselfish she was in terms of the time she spent with me. You know, inside that little body of hers is one of the strongest people I've ever met. What I didn't ever appreciate enough, until I had Quinton, was what it means to have a child and say to somebody else, "I'll be with you", away from my child. And now I know what an incredible gift that was. “You know, I never told Sally that I loved her. I should have done that.”

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After the death of his friend Dom DeLuise, Reynolds remarked: “As you get older, and start to lose people you love, you think about it more, and I was dreading this moment. Dom always made you feel better when he was around and there will never be another like him. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. I will miss him very much.”

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“I've had a tremendous amount of fun making fun of myself! As to my legacy, it's the kids that I have taught. I love this business so very much that I want to share my knowledge about it. The young actors that I have taught, I hope they think of me as a good teacher, like Charles Nelson Reilly. Being a good teacher. I'll take that over being a good actor any day!”

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Burt Reynolds did a Turner Classic Movie tribute video for Spencer Tracy, his favorite actor. He met Tracy in 1959 while Reynolds was working on “Riverboat”. Tracy was filming INHERIT THE WIND on a nearby soundstage, and Reynolds would sneak over every day just to watch Tracy work. One day, the two struck up a conversation. Reynolds recalls, "I told him that I was trying to be an actor and Mr. Tracy said, 'Well, don't let anybody catch you at it. Don't act. Just behave.' I felt like I was being knighted. That advice was so true."

It was advice Reynolds clearly took to heart, and which we saw in everything he did. So long, Burt.

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B.D.