From Dodge to disappointment: Burt Reynolds' struggle with quitting Gunsmoke and his father's reaction

"I had finally gotten on a television show my father could identify with. Then I quit."

No matter how hard we try, sometimes we can't fulfill every expectation. We're only human, after all. This is particularly tricky in some of our closest relationships in life. Someone we love has a measure we'll never live up to, no matter what we do. 

One of the bitter disappointments in Burt Reynolds' life wasn't his, but his father's.  The feeling affected Burt deeply, and his father's regrets made life difficult for the actor during a stretch of the 1960s. 

1965 was a tumultuous time in Reynolds' life. He'd just divorced Judy Carne, who soon rose to household fame as the "Sock It to Me" woman on Laugh-In. Her success contrasted with her now ex-husband's floundering career, as Reynolds failed to find work following his Gunsmoke departure.

To make matters worse, Gunsmoke held a particular value within Reynolds' family. Burt won rare affection from his father by joining the cast of the popular Western in 1962. His blacksmith character, Quint Asper, was one of the few only that Burt Reynolds' dad ever commended him for. In 1965, he quit Gunsmoke.

"I had finally gotten on a television show my father could identify with," said Reynolds. He spoke at length about the emotional struggle in Sylvia Resnick's 1983 biography Burt Reynolds.

"And then I quit"

When Burt Reynolds left Gunsmoke, he was echoing an earlier family trauma. 

"It was a little bit the way he felt when I was rejected by the army because of my knee. It was one of the biggest disappointments in my dad's life. He was a real gung-ho Army man."

While Burt Reynolds never returned to his Gunsmoke role, he spent the rest of his life acting, with many of his characters reclaiming the masculine validation his father withheld. Reynolds' swaggering brand of toughness saw him through career peaks and valleys, as the actor sustained a decades-long presence as a Hollywood icon.

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7 Comments

GOOSEYGOOSE9 23 days ago
Burt reynolds went on to movies after Dan august grew a moustache.
Tantoes 1 month ago
As for Burt...I'd read he had a hard time pleasing his father. Period. That his father was a much taller, larger build than him. But striving to please a parent that is unhappy with you for no valud reason is something many of us have struggled past.
Tantoes 1 month ago
As for the article here recently about the 'few' surviving actors who had ever been on Gunsmoke...they were probably over a dozen short. One in particular was the actress that played April, girlfriend to Festus. Earl Holiman. Johnny Whittaker. Seems Ruta Lee was on an episode. I'd have to look as I see reruns. But not much accuracy here, sadly.
AgingDisgracefully 1 month ago
So...Burt was thisclose to climbing backstops, Fear Strikes Outlike?
rb5391 1 month ago
cant please everybody i guess....
justjeff rb5391 1 month ago
Rick Nelson said it best in his song "Garden Party"... "It's all right now... I learned my lesson well... You see, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself!"
Coldnorth justjeff 22 days ago
When I heard that on the radio, I would belt out that part while driving my car. Seemed like it nailed my emotions perfectly. Those words are just so true for most of us at some time n our life
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