Burton Leon Reynolds (born February 11, 1936 - September 6, 2018[64]​) was an American actor, director, and producer

He began acting on television, and made his breakout film role in Deliverance (1972). Reynolds went on to star in a number of films, including The Longest Yard (1974), Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Without A Paddle and Boogie Nights.[32][49][50] 

Early life

Reynolds was born the son of Fern H. (née Miller; 1902–1992) and Burton Milo Reynolds (1906–2002). He had English, Scottish, Scots-Irish and Dutch ancestry, and was also said to have Cherokee roots.[2] In his 2014 autobiography But Enough About Me, Reynolds said his mother had Italian ancestry. During his career, Reynolds often claimed to have been born in Waycross, Georgia, but confirmed in 2015 that he was born in Lansing, Michigan.[4] He was born on February 11, 1936,[5] and in his autobiography stated that Lansing is where his family lived when his father was drafted into the United States Army.[7][8] Reynolds, his mother and sister joined his father at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and lived there for two years. When Reynolds's father was sent to Europe, the family moved to Lake City, Michigan, where his mother had been raised.[9]

In 1946, the family moved to Riviera Beach, Florida. His father became Chief of Police of Riviera Beach, which is adjacent to the north side of West Palm Beach, Florida. During 10th grade 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 in West Palm Beach, he attended Florida State University on a football scholarship and played halfback.[10] While at Florida State, Reynolds roomed with college football broadcaster and analyst Lee Corso, and also became a brother of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.[3] Reynolds hoped to be named to All-American teams and to have a career in professional football, but he suffered a knee injury in the first game of his sophomore season, and later that year he lost his spleen and injured his other knee as a result of a car accident.[11] These injuries hampered Reynolds' abilities on the field, and after being beaten in coverage for the game-winning touchdown in a 7-0 loss to North Carolina State on October 12, 1957, he decided to give up football and pursue a career in acting.[53]

Ending his university football career, Reynolds became a police officer, but his father suggested that he finish university and become a parole officer. To keep up with his studies, he began taking classes at Palm Beach Junior College (PBJC) in neighboring Lake Worth. In his first term at PBJC, Reynolds was in an English 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 role based on having heard Reynolds read Shakespeare in class, leading to Reynolds winning the 1956 Florida State Drama Award for his performance. In his autobiography, Reynolds refers to Duncan as 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 possible career. While working there, Reynolds met Joanne Woodward, who helped him find an agent, and was cast in Tea and Sympathy at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. After his Broadway debut Look, We've Come Through, he received favorable reviews for his performance and went on tour with the cast, driving the bus and appearing on stage. After the tour, Reynolds returned to New York and enrolled in acting classes, along with 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, in which Charlton Heston played the starring role. After the play closed, the director, John Forsythe, arranged a film audition with Joshua Logan for Reynolds. The film was Sayonara. Reynolds was told that he could not be in the film 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. He worked in a variety of different jobs, such as waiting tables, washing dishes, driving a delivery truck and as a bouncer at the Roseland Ballroom. While working as a dockworker, Reynolds writes that he was offered $150 to jump through a glass window on a live television show.

Television and film

Reynolds with the Citrus Queen at Garnet and Gold Football Game, Florida State University, 1963

Reynolds guest-starred in the Pony Express episode, "The Good Samaritan", which aired in 1960 on the centennial of the famed mail route.[3] He used television fame to secure leading roles for low-budget films. Saul David considered Reynolds to star in Our Man Flint, but Lew Wasserman rejected him.[14] Albert R. Broccoli asked Reynolds to play James Bond, but he turned the role down, saying "An American can't play James Bond. It just can't be done."[16] The role went to George Lazenby. Reynolds then filmed Shark! with director Sam Fuller and Fuller disowned the rough cuts. Reynolds made his breakout performance in Deliverance and gained notoriety when he appeared in the April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan.[17] Reynolds claims the centerfold in Cosmopolitan hurt the chances for the film and cast to receive Academy Awards.[18] In 1977, Reynolds and Nick Nolte declined the role of Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, which went to Harrison Ford.[19] After a string of box failures, he returned to television, starring in the sitcom Evening Shade (1990–1994). Reynolds was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Boogie Nights (1997). He refused to appear in Paul Thomas Anderson's third film, Magnolia.[55]

Other roles

In 1973, Reynolds released the album Ask Me What I Am and sang along with Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.[21] On March 15, 1978, Reynolds earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and built a dinner theatre in Jupiter, Florida followed by other franchise locations of the Reynolds Celebrity Dinner Theater including the Beacham Theater in Orlando. His celebrity was such that he drew not only big-name stars to appear in productions, but also to sell-out audiences. He sold the venue in the early 1990s, but a museum highlighting his career still operates nearby.[4] From 1977 to 1981, Reynolds topped the Quigley Publications poll of movie exhibitors, who voted him the top box-office attraction in the country. Only Bing Crosby won the poll more consecutive years. Despite much success, Reynolds' finances expired, and he filed for bankruptcy, due in part to an extravagant lifestyle, a divorce from Loni Anderson and failed investments in some Florida restaurant chains in 1996.[23][24] The filing was under Chapter 11, from which Reynolds emerged two years later.[24] Reynolds co-authored the children's book Barkley Unleashed A Pirate, a "whimsical tale [that] illustrates the importance of perseverance, the wonders of friendship and the power of imagination". In 2002, he voiced Avery Carrington in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Personal life



Reynolds' close friends have included Johnny Carson, Dom DeLuise, Jerry Reed, Charles Nelson Reilly, Tammy Wynette, Lucie Arnaz, Adrienne Barbeau, Tawny Little, Dinah Shore and Chris Evert. Reynolds was married to Judy Carne from 1963 to 1965, and to Loni Anderson from 1988 to 1993. He and Anderson adopted a son, Quinton. He had a relationship with Sally Field,[20] who by his own admission was, and perhaps is, the love of his life.[56]

Atlanta nightclub

In the late 1970s, Reynolds opened Burt's Place, a nightclub restaurant in the Omni International Hotel in the Hotel District of Downtown Atlanta.[28]

Sports team owner

In 1982, Reynolds became a co-owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits, a professional American football team in the USFL, whose nickname was inspired by the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy and Skoal Bandit, a primary sponsor for the team as a result of also sponsoring Reynolds' race team. Reynolds also co-owned a NASCAR Winston Cup team, Mach 1 Racing, with Hal Needham, which ran the #33 Skoal Bandit car with driver Harry Gant.


While filming City Heat, Reynolds was struck in the face with a metal chair and had temporomandibular joint dysfunction. He lost thirty pounds from not eating. The painkillers he was prescribed led to addiction, which took several years to break. Reynolds underwent back surgery in 2009 and a quintuple heart bypass in February 2010.[49]

Financial problems

On August 16, 2011, Merrill Lynch Credit Corporation filed foreclosure papers, claiming Reynolds owed $1.2 million on his home in Hobe Sound, Florida.[29][49] Reynolds owned the Burt Reynolds Ranch, where scenes for Smokey and the Bandit were filmed and which once had a petting zoo, until its sale during bankruptcy.[2] In April 2014, the 153-acre rural property was rezoned for residential use and the Palm Beach County school system could sell it to residential developer K. Hovnanian Homes.[2]



1961Angel BabyHoke Adams 
1961Armored CommandSki 
1965Operation C.I.A.Mark Andrews 
1966Navajo JoeJoe 
1969100 RiflesYaqui Joe Herrera 
1969Sam WhiskeySam Whiskey 
1969ImpassePat Morrison 
1970SkullduggeryDouglas Temple 
1972FuzzDetective Steve Carella 
1972DeliveranceLewis Medlock 
1972Everything You Always Wanted to KnowAbout Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)Sperm Switchboard Chief 
1973ShamusShamus McCoy 
1973The Man Who Loved Cat DancingJay Grobart 
1973White LightningGator McKlusky 
1974The Longest YardPaul "Wrecking" Crewe 
1975At Long Last LoveMichael Oliver Pritchard III 
1975W.W. and the Dixie DancekingsW.W. Bright 
1975Lucky LadyWalker Ellis 
1975HustleLieutenant Phil GainesAlso executive producer
1976Silent MovieHimselfCameo
1976GatorGator McKluskyAlso director
1976NickelodeonBuck Greenway 
1977Smokey and the BanditBo "Bandit" Darville 
1977Semi-ToughBilly Clyde Puckett 
1978The EndWendell Sonny LawsonAlso director
1978HooperSonny HooperAlso producer
1979Starting OverPhil Potter 
1980Rough CutJack Rhodes 
1980Smokey and the Bandit IIBo "Bandit" Darville 
1981The Cannonball RunJ.J. McClure 
1981PaternityBuddy Evans 
1981Sharky's MachineSgt. Thomas SharkyAlso director
1982The Best Little Whorehouse in TexasSheriff Ed Earl Dodd 
1982Best FriendsRichard Babson 
1982Six PackMan walking in front of Brewster and LilaUncredited
1983Stroker AceStroker Ace 
1983The Man Who Loved WomenDavid Fowler 
1983Smokey and the Bandit Part 3The Real BanditCameo
1984Cannonball Run IIJ.J. McClure 
1984City HeatMike Murphy 
1985StickErnest "Stick" StickleyAlso director
1986Uphill All the WayGamblerUncredited
1986HeatNick Escalante 
1987MaloneRichard Malone 
1988Rent-a-CopTony Church 
1988Switching ChannelsJohn L. Sullivan IV 
1989Physical EvidenceJoe Paris 
1989Breaking InErnie Mullins 
1989All Dogs Go to HeavenCharlie B. Barkin (voice) 
1992The PlayerHimselfCameo
1993Cop and a HalfNick McKenna 
1995The MaddeningRoy Scudder 
1996Citizen RuthBlaine Gibbons 
1996StripteaseCongressman David Dilbeck 
1996Mad Dog Time"Wacky" Jacky Jackson 
1997Meet Wally SparksLenny Spencer 
1997BeanGeneral Newton 
1997Boogie NightsJack Horner 
1997Big City BluesConnorAlso co-producer
1999PupsDaniel Bender 
1999Mystery, AlaskaJudge Walter Burns 
1999The Hunter's MoonClayton SamuelsDirect-to-DVD
2000The CrewJoey "Bats" Pistella 
2000The Last ProducerSonny WexlerAlso director
2001DrivenCarl Henry 
2001TemptedCharlie LeBlanc 
2001WaterproofEli ZealPremiered at the Urbanworld Film Festival
2001HotelFlamenco Manager 
2001The Hollywood SignKage Mulligan 
2002Time of the WolfArchie McGregor 
2003The LibrariansIrishUncredited
2004Without a PaddleDel Knox 
2005The Longest YardCoach Nate Scarborough 
2005The Dukes of HazzardBoss Hogg 
2005The Legend of Frosty the SnowmanNarrator (voice)Direct-to-DVD
2006Cloud 9Billy Cole 
2006End GameGeneral Montgomery 
2006Forget About ItSam LeFleur 
2006Broken BridgesJake Delton 
2007Randy and the MobElmore CulpepperUncredited cameo
2007In the Name of the KingKing Konreid 
2008DealTommy Vinson 
2008DelgoDelgo's Father (voice) 
2008A Bunch of AmateursJefferson Steele 
2011Not Another Not Another MovieC.J. Waters 
2014A Magic Christmas[2]Buster (voice)Direct-to-DVD
2015Pocket ListingRon Glass 
2015Hamlet & Hutch[2]Papa HutchDirect-to-DVD
2016Hollow Creek[2]Seagrass LambertDirect-to-DVD
2016Elbow Grease[2]Grandpa Barnes 
2016Shangri La Suite[2]Narrator (voice) 
2017Apple of My EyeCharlieDirect-to-DVD
2017Dog YearsVic Edwards 
2017Shadow FighterPaddy Grier 
2017Miami Love AffairRobert 
2017HenriGeorge Duncanpost-production


1958FlightCaptain Sam Allen / Captain Jack Hilyard2 episodes
1959M SquadPeter MarashiEpisode: "The Teacher"
1959The Lawless YearsTony SappioEpisode: "The Payoff"
1959Pony ExpressAdamEpisode: "The Good Samaritan"
1959–60RiverboatBen Frazer20 episodes
1959–60Playhouse 90Ace / The Actor2 episodes
1960Johnny RingoTad StuartEpisode: "The Stranger"
1960Alfred Hitchcock PresentsBill DavisEpisode: "Escape to Sonoita"
1960Lock-UpLatchard DuncanEpisode: "The Case of Alexis George"
1960–61The Blue AngelsChuck / Corman2 episodes
1960–61The AquanautsLeo / Jimmy2 episodes
1961RipcordThe AssassinEpisode: "Crime Jump"
1961Michael ShayneJerry TurnerEpisode: "The Boat Caper"
1961Dick Powell's Zane Grey TheatreBranch TaylorEpisode: "Man from Everywhere"
1961The Brothers BrannaganAbelardEpisode: "Bordertown"
1961Naked CityYoung ManEpisode: "Requiem for a Sunday Afternoon"
1961–62The EvergladesTrask / Lew Johnson2 episodes
1962Route 66TommyEpisode: "Love Is a Skinny Kid"
1962Perry MasonChuck BlairEpisode: "The Case of the Counterfeit Crank"
1962–65GunsmokeQuint Asper50 episodes
1963The Twilight ZoneRocky RhodesEpisode: "The Bard"
1965BrandedRed HandEpisode: "Now Join the Human Race"
1965FlipperAl Bardeman2 episodes
1965; 1968The F.B.I.John Duquesne / Michael Murtaugh2 episodes
1966HawkDetective Lt. John Hawk17 episodes
1967Gentle BenPilotEpisode: "Voice from the Wilderness"
1968PremierePete LassiterEpisode: "Lassiter"
1968Fade InRobTelevision film
1970Love, American StyleStanley DunbarEpisode: "Love and the Banned Book"
1970–71Dan AugustDan August26 episodes
1986The Golden GirlsHimselfEpisode: "Ladies of the Evening"
1987–91Out of This WorldTroy Garland (voice)95 episodes
1989–90B.L. StrykerB.L. Stryker12 episodes; also co-executive producer and director
1990–94Evening ShadeWood Newton98 episodes; also co-executive producer and director
1993Beverly Hills, 90210HimselfEpisode: "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window"
1993The Larry Sanders ShowHimselfEpisode: "The Grand Opening"
1993The Man from Left FieldJack RobinsonTelevision film; also director
1995Amazing GraceJosiah CareyEpisode: "Hallelujah"
1995Hope and GloriaHimselfEpisode: "Sisyphus, Prometheus and Me"
1995CybillHimselfEpisode: "The Cheese Stands Alone"
1996The Cherokee KidOtter Bob the Mountain ManTelevision film
1997King of the HillM.F. Thatherton (voice)Episode: "The Company Man"
1997DuckmanJudge Keaton (voice)Episode: "Das Sub"
1998Universal Soldier II: Brothers in ArmsCIA Deputy Director MentorTelevision film
1998Universal Soldier III: Unfinished BusinessCIA Deputy Director MentorTelevision film
1998Hard TimeDetective Logan McQueenTelevision film; also director
2001EmerilHimselfEpisode: "The Sidekick"
2002The X-FilesMr. BurtEpisode: "Improbable"
2002Miss Lettie and MeSamuel MadisonTelevision film
2003–04EdRuss Burton2 episodes
2005The King of QueensCoach WalcottEpisode: "Hi, School"
2005Robot ChickenJ.J. McClure / Himself (voices)Episode: "Gold Dust Gasoline"
2005Duck DodgersRoyal Serpenti (voice)Episode: "Master & Disaster/All in the Crime Family"
2006FreddieCarl Crane PoolEpisode: "Mother of All Grandfathers"
2006–07; 2009My Name Is EarlChubby3 episodes
2010Burn NoticePaul AndersonEpisode: "Past & Future Tense"
2011American Dad!Senator Buckingham (voice)Episode: "School Lies"
2011Reel LoveWade WhitmanTelevision film
2012ArcherHimself (voice)Episode: "The Man from Jupiter"

Video games

YearTitleVoice role
2002Grand Theft Auto: Vice CityAvery Carrington
2011Saints Row: The ThirdHimself (The Mayor)


YearTitleChart positionsAlbumSongwriter
US CountryUSCAN Country
1980"Let's Do Something Cheap and Superficial"518833Smokey and the Bandit II SoundtrackRichard Levinson


Awards and nominations for acting
YearAssociationCategoryNominated workResultRef.
1971Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Television Series DramaDan AugustNominated[32]
1975Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or ComedyThe Longest YardNominated[32]
1980Starting OverNominated[32]
American Movie AwardsFavorite Film Star – MaleN/AWon 
1991Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesEvening ShadeNominated 
People's Choice AwardsFavorite Male Performer in a New TV SeriesWon 
Viewers For Quality TelevisionBest Actor in a Quality Comedy SeriesWon 
Golden Boot AwardsGolden BootWon 
1992Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Television Series Musical or ComedyWon[32]
Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesWon[2]
1993Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Television Series Musical or ComedyNominated[32]
1997Boston Society of Film CriticsBest Supporting ActorBoogie Nights2nd place 
Los Angeles Film Critics AssociationBest Supporting ActorWon 
New York Film Critics CircleBest Supporting ActorWon 
Online Film Critics SocietyBest Supporting ActorWon 
San Diego Film Critics SocietyBest Supporting ActorWon 
1998Academy AwardsBest Supporting ActorNominated 
Golden Globe AwardsBest Supporting Actor – Motion PictureWon[32]
BAFTA AwardsBest Actor in a Supporting RoleNominated 
Chicago Film Critics AssociationBest Supporting ActorWon 
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics AssociationBest Supporting ActorWon 
Florida Film Critics CircleBest CastWon 
National Society of Film CriticsBest Supporting ActorWon 
Satellite AwardsBest Supporting Actor – Motion PictureWon 
Screen Actors GuildOutstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting RoleNominated 
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion PictureNominated 

Other honors

Further reading

  • Reynolds, Burt. (1994) My Life. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-6130-4
  • Anderson, Loni. (1997) My Life in High Heels. Avon Books. ISBN 978-0-380-72854-1
  • Reynolds, Burt. (2015) But Enough About Me: A Memoir. G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0-3991-7354-4