Born: 11 February 1936
Birthplace: Lansing, Michigan
Best known as: 1970s film star who was in Deliverance and Smokey and the Bandit
Name at birth: Burton Leon Reynolds, Jr.
Television and film star Burt Reynolds made it to the top of the box office heap in the late 1970s, as an amiable bad-boy who specialized in cheeky comedy action movies like Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and The Cannonball Run (1981). An injury sidelined his promising college football career at Florida State University, so Reynolds left for New York City in the late 1950s to start an acting career. On television after 1959, he was a stuntman and guest star until landing his own series in 1966 (Hawk). He surprised critics with a sturdy performance in the 1972 film Deliverance, but it was a string of silly good ol' boy B-movies that made Reynolds the biggest star in America: White Lightning (1973); The Longest Yard (1974); Gator (1976); Smokey and the Bandit (1977); Hooper (1978); Smokey and the Bandit II (1980); and The Cannonball Run (1981). Another injury sidelined him for a few years (and caused rumors that he had AIDS), his marriage to TV star Loni Anderson (1983-88) ended in a messy divorce and his finances took a dive, but Reynolds managed to come back strong in the late 1990s as a supporting player in Striptease (1996, starring Demi Moore), Boogie Nights (1997, which brought him an Oscar nomination) and Driven (2001). Late in his career he returned to good ol' boy roles in the remake of The Longest Yard (2005, starring Adam Sandler) and The Dukes of Hazzard (2005, starring Johnny Knoxville).
Extra credit: Reynolds was married to Laugh-in star Judy Carne (1963-65), had a much-publicized romance with singer Dinah Shore in the early 1970s (she was 20 years his senior) and dated his Smokey and the Bandit co-star, Sally Field.
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