Burt Reynolds wasn't your typical movie star. As a young football-player-turned-actor, Reynolds parlayed his athletic build into numerous roles in westerns and tough-guy movies. His adventurous spirit helped him land action films and comedic jaunts alike, but while he was known for his macho screen presence and his manliness off-screen, Reynolds didn't have just one kind of role. Films like Smokey and the Bandit, Deliverance, and Boogie Nights distinguished his long career and his general bad-ass lifestyle and unapologetic way of life helped him distinguish himself on- and off-screen.
As impressive as Reynolds was as an actor, some of his real-life antics were equally noteworthy. Friendly with some of the biggest names in Hollywood but not afraid to back down from a fight, Reynolds, who passed in 2018 at the age of 82, was what everyone perceived him to be while never losing himself in the process. Tough, honest, witty, and seductive, Reynolds may have personified the ideal macho man.
He Played Poker With Frank Sinatra
Burt Reynolds and Frank Sinatra appeared in the same film - Cannonball Run II - in 1983, but the two men really got to know each other at the poker table.
When Reynolds was dining out with girlfriend Dinah Shore one night at Nicky Blair's, the two saw Frank Sinatra. They waved at one another and Sinatra motioned for them to talk to him. According to Reynolds, Shore whispered, "I think he wants us to go join him," but Reynolds recoiled, stating, "Well, we're not going. I'm not a waiter here. We'll have dinner first and maybe go over later."
Much to Sinatra's surprise, Reynolds and Shore did wait until they were done eating to talk to him. When they finally approached, Sinatra invited Reynolds to a poker game about to take place in the kitchen of the restaurant.
Reynolds joined Sinatra and several of his associates for some five-card stud in the backroom of Nicky's. As they prepared to play, one of the busboys dropped a tray of glasses. As the owner of the restaurant chided the busboy, Sinatra stepped in and asked, "How much do those glasses cost?" Nicky replied, "I don't know, Frank, a few bucks apiece."
Sinatra then had his handler pull out a wad of cash to buy $3,000 worth of glasses from the restaurant. Sinatra had the busboy, Hector, break every one of them on the floor.
At that point, Reynolds stood up, walked across a floor littered with broken glass, and made his way to the exit. Sinatra asked, Where the hell are you going?" to which Reynolds replied, "Home... I've got my Sinatra story."767101Is this manly?
He Was A Stuntman At A Wild West Tourist Attraction
Early in his career, Reynolds straddled the fence between stuntman and actor. Part of his ability to do the former was the result of his time working as a stuntman in North Carolina. Reynolds did "staged gunfights and high falls every hour on the hour for a hundred bucks a week," and, as luck would have it, met some colleagues with pretty thick Southern accents.
When looking for someone to play in Deliverance, Reynolds suggested an associate from the Ghost Town in the Sky show named Herbert "Cowboy" Coward. Cowboy, as he was known, was hired and, when it came time film, perfectly uttered the line,"He got a real purty mouth, ain't he?"42872Is this manly?
He Told Marlon Brando Off After He Confronted Reynolds
Comparisons between Reynolds and Marlon Brando may have landed the former acting jobs, but they also irritated the latter. Reynolds supposedly grew a mustache to set himself apart from Brando, but when the two men came face-to-face, Brando accused him "of trying to capitalize on [Reynolds'] resemblance to him."
Reynolds played nice at first, but told Brando, "I'll tell you right now: I'm not having surgery because you don't like the way I look.... But I promise not to get fat."
When asked about the animosity between them later, Reynolds told Deadline reporter Mike Fleming,
I think he hated that people kept telling him, there’s this young actor who… but you know, I never tried to act like him. I do a pretty good imitation of him, but I never did it in a movie, or at a party, or anything like that. Rita Moreno was a real good friend of mine, and when they were together, she used to say he was so curious about me. He would constantly ask her questions about me, how I was to be around. I didn’t know why he felt that way; I never had any dealings with him whatsoever, never really even sat down and talked to him. But when The Godfather came along, I thought I had the chance of being one of his sons because of the physical likeness. He made sure I wasn’t, and I never understood why.41491Is this manly?
Spencer Tracy Gave Him The Best Advice Of His Career
Reynolds wasn't afraid to make difficult decisions, even when it meant it would make him persona non grata in Hollywood. Cast to play Ben Frazer on Riverboat during the late 1950s, Reynolds was frustrated with what, in his opinion, was "one of the worst shows on television."
Reynolds struggled with the producers on the show as well as his co-star, Darren McGavin. Reynolds was constantly reminded by McGavin that "he was the star of the show." McGavin "went out of his way to make" Reynolds "look bad on-camera," resorting to dirty tricks in the process.
Reynolds left Riverboat after only 21 episodes. In the end, it was his idol, Spencer Tracy, who taught him the lesson that stuck with him - "don’t act, just behave" - and got him through the experience. From that point on, Reynolds focused on making acting look effortless.36283Is this manly?