Nationality: American. Born: Waycross, Georgia, 11 February 1936. Education: Attended Florida State College; Palm Beach Junior College. Family: Married 1) the actress Judy Carne, 1963 (divorced 1965); 2) the actress Loni Anderson, 1988 (divorced 1994), one adopted son. Career: Football player with the Baltimore Colts; 1958—actor at Hyde Park Playhouse, New York; 1959–60—in TV series Riverboat ; 1961—on Broadway in Look, We've Come Through ; film debut in Angel Baby ; 1962–65—in TV series Gunsmoke , and in Hawk series, 1966, and Dan August series, 1970–71; 1976—directed first film, Gator ; 1990–94—in TV series Evening Shade . Awards: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy Award, 1991, for Evening Shade ; Best Supporting Actor, Online Film Critics Society, Best Supporting Actor, New York Film Critics Circle, Best Supporting Actor, National Society of Film Critics, Best Supporting Actor, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, all 1997, and Best Supporting Actor, Golden Satellite Awards, Best Supporting Actor, Golden Globes, and Best Supporting Actor, Chicago Film Critics Association, all 1998, all for Boogie Nights.

Films as Actor:


Angel Baby (Wendkos) (as Hoke Adams); Armored Command (Haskin) (as Skee)


Operation C.I.A. (Nyby) (as Mark Andrews)


Un dollaro a testa ( Navajo Joe ) (Corbucci) (as Joe)


Fade-In ( Iron Cowboy ) (Taylor) (as Rob)


Impasse (Benedict) (as Pat Morrison); 100 Rifles (Gries) (as Yaqui Joe); Sam Whiskey (Laven) (title role)


Hunters Are for Killing (Girard—for TV); Run, Simon, Run (McGowan—for TV) (title role); Skullduggery (Gordon Douglas) (as Douglas Temple); Shark ( Maneater ; Un Arma de dos filos ) (Fuller) (as Caine)


Fuzz (Colla) (as Det. Steve Carella); Deliverance (Boorman)(as Lewis); Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex but Were Afraid to Ask (Woody Allen) (as Switchboard)


Shamus (Kulik) (as McCoy); White Lightning (Sargent) (as Gator McKlusky); The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (Sarafian) (as Jay Grobart)


The Longest Yard (Aldrich) (as Paul Crewe)


W. W. and the Dixie Dancekings (Avildsen) (as W. W.Bright); At Long Last Love (Bogdanovich) (as Michael Oliver Pritchard III); Hustle (Aldrich) (as Lt. Phil Gaines); Lucky Lady (Donen) (as Walker)


Silent Movie (Mel Brooks) (as himself); Nickelodeon (Bogdanovich) (as Buck Greenaway)


Smokey and the Bandit (Needham) (as Bandit); Semi-Tough (Ritchie) (as Billy Clyde Puckett)


Hooper (Needham) (as Sonny Hooper)

Burt Reynolds (center) with William H. Macy in Boogie Nights
Burt Reynolds (center) with William H. Macy in Boogie Nights


Starting Over (Pakula) (as Phil Potter)


Rough Cut (Siegel) (as Jack Rhodes); Smokey and the Bandit II (Needham) (as Bandit)


The Cannonball Run (Needham) (as J. J. McClure); Paternity (Steinberg) (as Buddy Evans)


The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Higgins) (as Sheriff); Best Friends (Jewison) (as Richard Babson)


The Man Who Loved Women (Edwards) (as David); Stroker Ace (Needham) (title role); Smokey and the Bandit III (Lowry) (as the real Bandit)


Cannonball Run II (Needham) (as J. J. McClure); City Heat (Richard Benjamin) (as Mike Murphy)


Uphill All the Way (Dobbs) (as poker player)


Heat (Richards) (as Nick "Mex" Escalante); Malone (Cokliss)(as Richard Malone)


Switching Channels (Kotcheff) (as John L. Sullivan IV); Rent-a-Cop (London) (as Tony Church); The Story of Hollywood (Gosling—for TV) (as narrator)


Physical Evidence (Michael Crichton) (as Joe Paris); Breaking In (Forsyth) (as Ernie Mullins); All Dogs Go to Heaven (Bluth—animation) (as voice of Charlie)


Modern Love (Benson) (as Col. Parker); A Day in the Life of Wood Newton (Thomason)


The Player (Altman) (as himself)


Cop and a Half (Henry Winkler) (as Nick McKenna)


The Maddening (Danny Huston)


Precious ; Striptease (Andrew Bergman) (as Congressman Dilbeck); Trigger Happy (Bishop) (as "Wacky" Jacky Jackson); Frankenstein and Me (Tinnell) (as Les Wil-liams); Cherokee Kid (Barclay for TV) (as Otter Bob)


Meet Wally Sparks (Baldwin) (as Lenny Spencer); Raven (Solberg) (as Jerome Katz, a.k.a. Raven); Bean (Mel Smith)(as Gen. Newton); The Story of Bean (Edwards for TV) (as himself); Boogie Nights (Anderson) (as Jack Horner)


Crazy Six (Pyun) (as Dakota); AFI's 100 Years . . . 100 Movies (doc—for TV) (as himself); Universal Soldier II: Brothers in Arms (Woolnough for TV) (as Mentor/CIA Director); Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business (Woolnough for TV) (as Mentor/GR88)


The Hunter's Moon (Weinman) (as Clayton Samuels); Big City Blues (Fleury) (as Connor); Hard Time: The Premonition (Cass, Sr. for TV) (as Det. Logan McQueen); Hard Time: Hostage Hotel (Needham for TV) (as Det. Logan McQueen); Pups (Ash) (as Daniel Bender); Stringer (Biedermann) (as Wolko); Mystery, Alaska (Roach) (as Judge Walter Burns); Waterproof (Berman)


The Crew (Dinner) (as Joey "Bats" Pistella)

Films as Actor and Director:


Gator (as Gator McKlusky)


The End (as Sonny Lawson)


Sharky's Machine (as Sharky)


Stick (title role)


The Man from Left Field (for TV) (as Jack)


Hard Time (for TV) (as Det. Logan McQueen)


By REYNOLDS: books—

My Life , New York, 1994.

Seminole Seasons: Florida State's Rise to the National Title , with Bruce Chadwick, Dallas, Texas, 1994.

By REYNOLDS: articles—

"The End Is Just the Beginning," interview with J. McBride and B. Brooks, in Film Comment (New York), May-June 1978.

"Sophisticated Touch," interview in Films and Filming (London), June 1980.

"Burt Offerings," interview with Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 7 October 1994.

On REYNOLDS: books—

Hurwood, Bernhardt J., Burt Reynolds , New York, 1979.

Whitley, Dianna, Burt Reynolds: Portrait of a Superstar , New York, 1979.

Streebeck, Nancy, The Films of Burt Reynolds , Secaucus, New Jersey, 1982.

Resnick, Sylvia Safran, Burt Reynolds: An Unauthorized Biography , New York, 1983.

Hall, Elaine Blake, Burt and Me: My Days and Nights with Burt Reynolds , New York, 1994.

Smith, Lisa, Burt Reynolds , Palm Beach, Florida, 1994.

On REYNOLDS: articles—

McGillivray, David, "Burt Reynolds," in Focus on Film (London), Autumn 1972.

Current Biography 1973 , New York, 1973.

Lee, G., "The Burt Reynolds Game Plan," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), June 1978.

Smith, J., "The Wooing of Burt Reynolds," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), July-August 1980.

Haskell, Molly, "Burt Reynolds," in The Movie Star , edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.

Sarne, M., "Taking a New Direction," in Films (London), May 1982.

Hanson, Steve, Patricia King Hanson, and Pat H. Broeske, "Ruling Stars," in Stills (London), June/July 1985.

* * *

Quipster Burt Reynolds was a wise guy stud whose sexy insolence snowballed into box-office magic. For a film star who springboarded to fame via talk show appearances (independent of the merits of his screen work), Reynolds was a true media sensation whose celebrity now rests on off-guard sightings on tabloid-television programs.

Cocksure on the surface, but inwardly peeved about the failure of several television series, the young Reynolds was a product of the waning days of Hollywood studio training programs. What he mainly learned as a contract actor was that on-the-job acting lessons were good but that playing a half-breed on Gunsmoke was bad. His gridiron days as football star, ending with a crippling knee injury, stood him in good stead when he became the prime symbol of macho knockabout in the American cinema of the 1970s. What set Reynolds apart (as he must have sensed when he posed nude for Cosmopolitan magazine), was a teasing sexuality that endeared him to ladies just as his quick-tempered brawling made him a hit with men.

A long time in coming, stardom hit Reynolds when he was already the darling of late night television shows. Concurrently sending critics in search of superlatives, Deliverance brought him the best notices of his career for his well-rounded exploration of destructive machismo, but this was not the Burt the public hankered for. Consolidated by the boffo business registered by an unheralded road picture, Reynolds's stardom made him the first good ol' boy megastar. After Smokey and the Bandit , Reynolds reigned as King of the Road in a parallel universe of CB radios, monster trucks, and trailer lifestyles.

Admirably never downgrading his shit-kickin' fans, Reynolds tried to broaden his range beyond the drive-in set but never courageously or farsightedly enough. Escalating his antics as a loose cannon in slapped-together enterprises such as The Cannonball Run , Reynolds rode the crest of the box office but seemed trapped in a country-western ghetto. His bad boy image never seemed mature enough to fit comfortably with traditional private eye role models; his cynicism seemed like a pose not an existential outcry. By the time he foisted Heat , Malone , and Physical Evidence on an unwaiting world, the tough-as-nails detective demeanor seemed more soft than hard-boiled.

For some reason, the off-the-cuff wit and bedroom eyes-flirting that delighted insomniacs during his talk show interviews did not translate to big-screen appeal in a series of lightweight but strained romantic comedies: Paternity , Switching Channels , and Best Friends . For a time, the razor-sharp satire, Semi-Tough , and the slick caper flick, Rough Cut , showed glimmers of Reynolds's bantering sexiness but his Manly Folk Hero of the Movies and his Class Cut-Up on television never comfortably coexisted. Perhaps he had a longer ride at the top than his talent deserved. On television, career resuscitation arrived in the form of the "gosh-darning" Evening Shade , but a series of on-set tantrums rocked his world followed by news of ugly irreconcilable differences stemming from his divorce from Velvetta Cheesecake, Loni Anderson. Having given him his start, the vast television wasteland reclaimed him.

Unlike his studio contract buddy, Clint Eastwood, who aged gracefully and sexily into the love interest of Bridges of Madison County , Reynolds has toupéed and plastic surgeried himself almost beyond recognition. (Not since Robert Taylor dyed his hair jet black has a famous leading man failed so totally at stopping the clock.) No doubt, his touted comeback opposite Demi Moore in Striptease can only be considered a stopgap measure. Perhaps comedies may bring respite but Reynolds no longer has the self-possessed good looks to unseat Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and dozens of up-and-comers who have usurped his place in the overcrowded action-movie meat market. The truth is that Reynolds has always been a television star; that hillbilly hero film career now seems like an aberration.

—Robert Pardi

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