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Reynolds' parents were Burton Lee Reynolds, who was of Cherokee and Irish ancestry, and his wife, Fern Miller. Reynolds states in his autobiography that his family was living in Lansing when his father was drafted into the United States Army.Reynolds, his mother and his sister joined his father at Fort Leonard Wood, where they lived for two years. When Reynolds's father was sent to Europe, the family returned to Lansing, Michigan. In 1946, Reynolds moved to Riviera Beach with his parents. His father, Burt Sr. later became Chief of Police of Riviera Beach. Riviera Beach is the next town north of West Palm Beach.
In his senior year at Palm Beach High School, Reynolds was named First Team All State and All Southern as a fullback, and received multiple scholarship offers. After graduating from Palm Beach High School in West Palm Beach, Florida, Reynolds attended Florida State University on a college football scholarship, becoming an all-star halfback. Reynolds hoped to be named to All American teams, and to have a career in professional football. In the first game of the season Reynolds was injured, and a car accident later that year worsened the injury. With his college football career ended, Reynolds considered becoming a police officer, but his father suggested that he finish college and become a parole officer. In order to keep up with his studies he began taking classes at Palm Beach Junior College (PBJC) in neighboring Lake Worth, Florida. In his first term at PBJC Reynolds was in a class taught by Watson B. Duncan III. Duncan pushed Reynolds into trying out for a play he was producing, Outward Bound. He cast Reynolds in the lead, based on his impressions from listening to Reynolds read Shakespeare in class. Reynolds won the 1956 Florida State Drama Award for his performance in Outward Bound. Reynolds calls Duncan his mentor and the most influential person in his life.
The Florida State Drama Award included a scholarship to the Hyde Park Playhouse, a summer stock theater, in Hyde Park, New York. Reynolds saw the opportunity as an agreeable alternative to more physically demanding summer jobs, but did not yet see acting as a career. While working at Hyde Park, Reynolds met Joanne Woodward, who helped Reynolds find an agent, and be cast in Tea and Sympathy at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. Reynolds received favorable reviews for his performance in Tea and Sympathy. Reynolds then went on tour with Tea and Sympathy, driving the bus as well as appearing on stage.
After the tour Reynolds returned to New York and enrolled in acting classes. His classmates included Frank Gifford, Carol Lawrence, Red Buttons and Jan Murray. After a botched improvisation in acting class, Reynolds briefly considered returning to Florida, but he soon got a part in a revival of Mister Roberts, with Charlton Heston as the star. After the play closed, the director, John Forsythe, arranged a movie audition with Josh Logan for Reynolds. The movie was Sayonara, and Reynolds was told he couldn't be in the movie because he looked too much like Marlon Brando. Logan advised Reynolds to go to Hollywood, but Reynolds did not feel confident enough to do so.
Reynolds worked odd jobs while waiting for acting opportunities. He waited tables, washed dishes, drove a delivery truck and worked as a bouncer at the Roseland Ballroom. It was while working as a dockworker that Reynolds was offered $150 to jump through a glass window on a live television show.
He made his Broadway debut in Look, We've Come Through. Reynolds first starred on television with Darren McGavin in the 1959-1961 NBC series, Riverboat. In 1960-1961, he appeared in two episodes of the syndicated series The Blue Angels, about elite fliers of the United States Navy. That same season, he guest starred in the syndicated crime drama, The Brothers Brannagan in the episode "Bordertown". Reynolds went on to appear in a number of other shows, including a role as blacksmith/ defacto depute, and half-Native American Quint Asper on CBS's Gunsmoke from 1962–1965. On June 11, 1959, he appeared as Tony Sapio with Ruta Lee as Gloria Fallon in the episode entitled "The Payoff" of NBC's 1920s crime drama, The Lawless Years. In 1962 Reynolds secured a guest appearance on Perry Mason in "The Case of the Counterfeit Crank".
His film debut was in 1961, in the movie Angel Baby. At the urging of friend Clint Eastwood, Reynolds used his TV fame to secure leading roles in overseas low budget films, commonly called "Spaghetti Westerns". (Eastwood advised Reynolds from experience, as he had done the same). Reynolds first Spaghetti Western, Navajo Joe, came out in 1966. These low budget starring roles established Reynolds as a bankable leading man in movies, and earned him starring roles in American big-budget motion pictures. During this period, he starred in two short-lived cop shows: Hawk and Dan August. He disparaged these shows, telling Johnny Carson that Dan August had "two forms of expression: mad and supermad." His breakout performance in Deliverance in 1972 made him a star. The same year, Reynolds gained notoriety when he posed naked in the April (Vol. 172, No. 4) issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Reynolds claims he was offered the role of James Bond by producer Albert R. Broccoli, after Sean Connery left the franchise. Reynolds turned the role down, saying "An American can't play James Bond. It just can't be done." In 1973, he released the album Ask Me What I Am. He would also sing with Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Reynolds appeared on ABC's The American Sportsman hosted by outdoors journalist Grits Gresham, who took celebrities on hunting, fishing, and shooting trips around the world.
On March 15, 1978, Reynolds earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in the same year built a dinner theatre in Jupiter, Florida. His celebrity was such that he drew not only big-name stars to appear in productions but sell-out audiences as well. He sold the venue in the early 1990s.
In the 1980s, after Smokey and the Bandit, he became typecast in similar, less well-done and less successful movies. He had his hand at producing a television show with friend Bert Convy in 1987, Win, Lose or Draw. He even appeared as a celebrity gameplayer in a few episodes of the show.
During the first half of the 1990s, he was the star of the CBS television series Evening Shade, for which he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1991).
Despite much success, Reynolds's finances were bad, due in part to an extravagant lifestyle, a messy divorce from Loni Anderson (see below), and failed investments in some Florida restaurant chains; consequently, in 1996, Reynolds filed for bankruptcy. The filing was under Chapter 11, from which Reynolds emerged two years later.
Reynolds started a comeback with the movie Striptease in 1996, and the critically acclaimed Boogie Nights, in 1997, put his career back on track. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Boogie Nights and won a Golden Globe Award for the movie. He was considered a front-runner for the Supporting Oscar, but ultimately lost to Robin Williams, who won it for his role in Good Will Hunting.
In early 2000, he created and toured Burt Reynolds's One-Man Show. In 2002, he lent his voice to the character Avery Carrington in the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
In 2005, he co-starred in a remake of The Longest Yard, with Adam Sandler playing the role of Paul Crewe, the role Reynolds had played in the 1974 original. This time around, Reynolds took on the role of Nate Scarborough. The irony in Reynolds's participation in the remake was that his role in the 1974 original garnered him a Golden Globe nomination "Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical/Comedy", while his role in the remake saw him receive a Razzie Award nomination for "Worst Supporting Actor". He also appeared in a movie version of the popular 1980s TV series The Dukes of Hazzard, as Boss Hogg.
He starred in the audio book version of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. In May 2006, Reynolds began appearing in Miller Lite beer commercials. In 2007 at the World Stuntman Awards he was awarded the Taurus Lifetime Achievement Award. While presenting him with the award Arnold Schwarzenegger referred to him as the greatest of the great.
At various points in his life, Reynolds was romantically involved with Tammy Wynette, Lucie Arnaz, Adrienne Barbeau, Susan Clark, Sally Field, Lorna Luft, Tawny Little, Pam Seals, Dinah Shore and Christine Evert.His relationship with Shore garnered particular attention given the fact she was 20 years his senior. Reynolds was married to actress/comedienne Judy Carne from 1963 to 1965, and actress Loni Anderson from 1988 to 1993, with whom he adopted a son, Quinton Anderson Reynolds (born August 31, 1988). E! Online reported that he dated Kate Edelman Johnson from 2003 to 2005.
Sports team owner
In 1982 Reynolds became a co-owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits, a professional football team in the USFL whose nickname was inspired by his then-recent Smokey and the Bandit movies. Reynolds also co-owned a NASCAR Winston Cup team with Hal Needham, which ran the #33 Skoal Bandits car, with driver Harry Gant.
Reynolds is on the list of California delinquent taxpayers with a personal income tax debt of $225,008.64. A tax lien was filed against him on February 22, 1996. It has since been paid in full.
Year Film Role Notes
1961 Angel Baby Hoke Adams Film debut
Armored Command Skee
1965 Operation C.I.A. Mark Andrews
1966 Navajo Joe Joe
1969 100 Rifles Yaqui Joe Herrera
Sam Whiskey Sam Whiskey
Impasse Pat Morrison
1970 Skullduggery Douglas Temple
1972 Deliverance Lewis Medlock
Fuzz Det. Steve Carella
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) Sperm Switchboard Chief cameo role
1973 Shamus Shamus McCoy
White Lightning Gator McKlusky
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing Jay Grobart
1974 The Longest Yard Paul Crewe Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1975 At Long Last Love Michael Oliver Pritchard III
W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings W.W. Bright
Lucky Lady Walker Ellis song performer
Hustle Lieutenant Phil Gaines also executive producer
1976 Silent Movie himself cameo role
Gator Gator McKlusky also director
Nickelodeon Buck Greenway
1977 Smokey and the Bandit Bo 'Bandit' Darville
Semi-Tough Billy Clyde Puckett
1978 The End Wendell Sonny Lawson also director
Hooper Sonny Hooper also producer
1979 Starting Over Phil Potter Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1980 Rough Cut Jack Rhodes
Smokey and the Bandit II Bo 'Bandit' Darville
1981 The Cannonball Run J.J. McClure
Paternity Buddy Evans
Sharky's Machine Sgt. Tom Sharky also director
1982 The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd song performer
Best Friends Richard Babson
1983 Stroker Ace Stroker Ace
Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 The Real Bandit/ Bo 'Bandit' Darville cameo role
The Man Who Loved Women David Fowler
1984 Cannonball Run II J.J. McClure
City Heat Mike Murphy
1985 Southern Voices, American Dreams himself documentary
Stick Ernest 'Stick' Stickley also director
1986 Uphill All the Way himself cameo role
Sherman's March himself documentary
1987 Malone Richard Malone
1988 Rent-A-Cop Tony Church
Switching Channels John L. Sullivan IV
1989 Physical Evidence Joe Paris
Breaking In Ernie Mullins
All Dogs Go to Heaven Charlie B. Barkin voice and song performer
1990 Modern Love Colonel Frank Parker
1992 The Player himself cameo role
1993 Cop and a Half Nick McKenna
1994 A Century of Cinema himself documentary
1995 The Maddening Roy Scudder
1996 Frankenstein and Me Les Williams
Citizen Ruth Blaine Gibbons
Striptease Congressman David Dilbeck
Mad Dog Time 'Wacky' Jacky Jackson
1997 Meet Wally Sparks Lenny Spencer
Bean General Newton
Boogie Nights Jack Horner Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cast
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Raven Jerome 'Raven' Katz
1998 Crazy Six Dakota
Hard Time Det. Logan McQueen
1999 Waterproof Eli Zeal
The Hunter's Moon Clayton Samuels
Pups Daniel Bender
Big City Blues Connor co-producer
Mystery, Alaska Judge Walter Burns
2000 The Crew Joey 'Bats' Pistella
The Last Producer Sonny Wexler also director
2001 Driven Carl Henry
Tempted Charlie LeBlanc
Hotel Flamenco Manager
The Hollywood Sign Kage Mulligan
Auf Herz und Nieren Banko German film
2002 Snapshots Larry Goldberg
Time of the Wolf Archie McGregor
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Avery Carrington Video Game Voice
2003 Hard Ground John 'Chill' McKay Hallmark Channel film tv
The Librarians Irish
4th and Life Narrator documentary
Gumball 3000: The Movie himself voice
2004 Without a Paddle Del Knox
2005 The Longest Yard Coach Nate Scarborough
The Dukes of Hazzard Jefferson Davis 'Boss' Hogg
Legend of Frosty the Snowman Narrator voice
2006 Cloud 9 Billy Cole
End Game General Montgomery
Forget About It Sam LeFleur
Broken Bridges Jake Delton
2007 Randy and the Mob Elmore Culpepper
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale King Konreid
2008 Deal Tommy Vinson
Delgo Delgo's Father voice
2009 A Bunch of Amateurs Jefferson Steel
Not Another Not Another Movie C.J. Waters
A Fonder Heart Craig Thomas pre-production
Catch .44 Mel pre-production
Awards and achievements
Television and general film awards
1991 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (for Evening Shade)
Golden Globes, USA
1992 Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical (for Evening Shade)
People's Choice Awards, USA
1979 Favorite Motion Picture Actor
1979 Favorite All-Around Male Entertainer
1980 Favorite Motion Picture Actor
1982 Favorite Motion Picture Actor
1982 Favorite All-Around Male Entertainer
1983 Favorite Motion Picture Actor
1983 Favorite All-Around Male Entertainer
1984 Favorite Motion Picture Actor (tied with Clint Eastwood)
1991 Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Series
American Movie Awards
1980 Favorite Film Star - Male
Viewers For Quality Television Awards
1991 Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series (for Evening Shade)
Crystal Reel Awards
2002 Lifetime Achievement Award
ShoWest Convention, USA
1998 Supporting Actor of the Year
Golden Boot Awards
1990 Golden Boot
National Association of Theater Owners
1978 Male Star of the Year Award
1980 Male Star of the Year Award
Reynolds has received a number of honorary recognitions over the years, mostly keys to various cities, or deputy badges from being deputized.
Keys to the cities of: Hollywood, Florida / Miami Beach, Florida / Ocala, Florida / Orlando, Florida / Palm Beach County, Florida / West Palm Beach, Florida/ Buena Park, California / Oxnard, California / Savannah, Georgia / Niagara Falls, New York / Clark County, Nevada / Piggott, Arkansas
Deputy Sheriff Badges: Leon County, Florida / Tallahassee, Florida / Tampa, Florida / Mitchell County, Georgia / Ramsey County, Minnesota / Hawaii / South Carolina / Warrensville Township, Ohio / Arizona / Buffalo, New York City Police / Jackson Parish, Louisiana / Jefferson Parish, Louisiana / Los Angeles County, California
1978 Star (for motion pictures) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6838 Hollywood Blvd.
National Association of Theater Owners No. 1 box-office star for five straight years (1978–82)
1987 Eastman Kodak Second Century Award
1989 Durex Man Of The Year
1991 American Cancer Society's Lifetime Achievement Award
2000 Children at Heart Award
2003 Atlanta IMAGE Film and Video Award
2007 Taurus Lifetime Achievement Award
2007 Best Buddies Canada Lifetime Achievement Award
Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country US CAN Country
1980 "Let's Do Something Cheap and Superficial" 51 88 33 Smokey and the Bandit II Soundtrack