11 incredibly cool facts about Burt Reynolds
Find out what game show is modeled after his living room, what huge roles he turned down and what he has in common with Trump.
Top image: AP Photo
In last year's Anne Hathaway film The Intern, she laments the state of the modern male and asks, "How, in one generation, have men gone from guys like jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford to..." She could have just as easily thrown Burt Reynolds in there.
For decades, the hammer-swinging, gum-smacking actor has been an ultimate man's man — athlete, cowboy, model, Bandit, car enthusiast. From Quint on Gunsmoke to Boogie Nights, from no mustache to mustache, he has been the epitome of cool.
Today, he turns 80 years old. Let's salute him!
1. His roommate at Florida State University was ESPN college football personality Lee Corso.
The Palm Beach High standout played halfback for the Seminoles. An injury in his sophomore year hampered his football career, but he at least maintains a great connection to the game. We're betting Corso can score him tickets to the ACC Championships.
2. He was rejected for a breakout role in 'Sayonara' because he looked too much like Marlon Brando.
After college, Reynolds took to the stage in New York. His success there led to an audition for Sayonara, but he was told he could not be cast as he was a dead ringer for the film's lead, Brando. It is hard to tell them apart in this poster.
3. He released a country album in 1973.
His vocals on Ask Me What I Am float in higher register than you might imagine. We bet he could do a mean Dylan impression. Let's have a listen.
4. He turned down the roles of both James Bond and Han Solo.
We wonder if he kept that agent. After Sean Connery stepped away from 007, producer Albert R. Broccoli offered the role to Reynolds. He humbly and perhaps rightly said no, under the belief that Bond should not be American (even though the first James Bond was American). We're not sure what his excuse was for Star Wars. Probably the giant walking dog.
5. 'Smokey and the Bandit' beat 'Star Wars' at the box office.
For one week, at least. The good time smuggler story Smokey and the Bandit — the first part of an unlikely trilogy itself — was released the same weekend as Star Wars, two days later on May 27. When the cash was tallied on May 30, Smokey came out ahead with $1,728,060 to Lucas' $1,554,475.
6. Jackie Gleason based the character Buford T. Justice on Reynolds' dad.
Speaking of Smokey, the irritable officer on the Bandit's trail was portrayed by the former Honeymooner. Gleason based the character on the elder Burton Reynolds, who was a Chief of Police in south Florida. Oh, and there was a real-life man named Buford T. Justice, too. He was a colleague of Chief Reynolds.
7. He had a nightclub in Atlanta called Burt's Place.
The eatery and boogie palace was located in the Omni International Hotel in the late 1970s — around the same time the building housed the short-lived indoor theme park The World of Sid and Marty Krofft! Give us a time machine, please. Now, this is the headquarters of CNN.
8. The set of the game show 'Win, Lose or Draw' was modeled after his living room.
This was not some random decision. Hosted by Vicki Lawrence, the Pictionary-like game show was co-produced by Burt & Bert Productions (Burt Reynolds and buddy Bert Convy).
9. The ambulance he drives in 'The Cannonball Run' raced in the actual Cannonball Run.
Reynolds was paid a cool $5 million for this comedic chase film, though he also took the role to work again with good friend Hal Needham. A former stuntman, Needham helmed a handful of lighthearted moneymakers for Burt, popcorn flicks like Stroker Ace and the Bandits. Needham was also a racing man. He's the one who drove that orange Dodge Tradesman ambulance across the country in the real race before filming Cannonball.
10. He directed 'Sharkey's Machine' in a way to get back at Clint Eastwood.
Reynolds jokingly refers to this movie Dirty Harry Goes to Atlanta. Why? After Clint Eastwood scored a hit with his very Bandit-like movie Every Which Way But Loose, Reynold told him, "Clint, you're getting into my territory! …I'm going out and making Dirty Harry Goes to Atlanta!" When Sharkey's Machine was in production, Eastwood sent Reynolds a telegram that read, "You really weren't kidding, were you?"
Image: AP Photo
11. He was owner of a pro football team and named them after 'Smokey and the Bandit.'
The upstart USFL took on the NFL from 1982 to 1986. Another owner in the league? Donald Trump. The Bandits had a mascot named Smokey, naturally.