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Burt Reynolds: The Comeback Kid

Merle Haggard may have become a movie star, if he had taken Burt Reynolds up on his offer to play Curly in Smoky and The Bandit. But The Hag said that Burt's antics at a show they did together at the state pen in Leavenworth did not sit well with him. Burt received some backlash, but the now iconic movie took off and life was good for awhile, though bad judgment would prove to taint his career and the public's perception of Burt throughout his life..


First a little bit about the actor's back story. Burt Reynolds, was an acclaimed American actor and filmmaker. He played college football, in Florida and was generally viewed as a sex symbol in his time. Some of his most famous movies include Deliverance, Smokey and the Bandit and Boogie Nights. He was also a passionate country music advocate incorporating it into his movies, lifestyle, and releasing a country album Ask Me What I Am in 1973.. He also famously dated Tammy Wynette after her divorce from George. At his career peak, Burt's fortune was estimated at 60M after taxes, which is 150 Million today.


However, the purchase of a Florida-based theater in the late 1970s, a venture which ultimately left Reynolds on the brink of bankruptcy put a dent in the actor's finances. Additionally, he encountered troubles with boutique hotels that he invested heavily in during the 1980s, eventually resulting in foreclosure and substantial debts. Burt, like so many blindly trusted his business manager to make the right investment decisions for him.


Greatest comeback of all time

Sadly, and usually, it doesn't work out that way. When it's your money, you need to stay on top of it because, if something goes wrong guess who pays? That's what happened to Burt. There was also a considerable hit to his public image as a result of public feuds with other celebrities, and bad relationship decisions. 50's Hollywood starlet called Burt fast food, alluding to, well you'll have to read her book...😉 The bad relationship decisions proved to be his wrecking ball.

The greatest comeback of all time

Burt married WKRP In Cincinnati actress Lonnie Anderson in 1988.

At the time, both were renowned Hollywood personalities who captured the attention of audiences throughout their careers. The couple was initially embraced as an idealized Hollywood duo, with their wedding signifying a match made in showbiz heaven.


However, as time progressed, rumors about marital discord began to circulate within media circles. Sadly, their relationship became strained due to various factors such as Reynolds' inability to fully commit emotionally. Ultimately, the couple decided to divorce.


The divorce settlement was two million dollars plus their vacation home. It took Burt 22 years to fully pay the divorce settlement.

Compounding his financial woes even more was the debt owed to CBS after his sitcom Evening Shade was canceled after 98 episodes. Burt took an advance against estimated revenues potentially generated from syndication, but the sync deal never happened.



Burt was unable to stay afloat, and less than two years after the divorce, he filed for bankruptcy. The court docs show that the actor was 11 Million in debt.  However, professionally Burt's comeback was remarkable, as he did some of his finest acting after the divorce, and bankruptcy.


Burt Reynolds was not taken seriously as an actor in his early days.

And his 1972 nude Cosmopolitan centerfold did much to detract from the merits of his dramatic talent. However, a role in a somewhat questionable movie proved to mark a startling comeback for Burt.


Boogie Nights, Director Paul Anderson says the movie is about belonging, but the premise is a comedy drama about a fictionalized adult entertainment star. Burt was not thrilled about the subject, but decided to take a chance as it was hailed to be the next Pulp Fiction, a movie that precipitated John Travolta's comeback. Burt is said to have been cranky throughout the filming of the movie.


Maybe this is a testament to Anderson's masterful direction because Burt's performance was hailed as his most iconic. Industry respect was showered on Burt after 35 years in the movie industry. Burt finally received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Burt won the Golden Globe Award, and almost all the top film critic awards for his role including the prestigious National Society of Film Critics Award. In total, Burt won 12 awards for his role in Boogie Nights.



The actor's success would not stop there. Burt also became a New York Times Best Selling author for his candid memoir But Enough About Me. In 2015, the actor also received the Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures "Diamond" award bestowed on stuntman that achieved success in acting. Burt continued to direct and act. In total, Burt has racked 186 acting credits, 15 Director credits, and 12 as a Producer. The last movie he acted in before he died in 2018 was the award winning Shadow Fighter.


At time of death, Reynolds had just finished rehearsing his lines for the Quentin Tarrantino movie Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

Burt's previous massive fortune was reduced to a mere 5 Million by 2018. Though Reynolds never remarried, and was not able to regain his riches, he did experience late career recognition, success, and established his legacy as one of the most enduring actors in cinema history..


In our next installment, we'll explore how one of the greatest music legends in history made his way back to number one after a shattering financial disaster.


 

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