Burt Reynolds: From bankable to broke - so now we can all have a piece of him

To help alleviate his financial woes, Reynolds,  once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, plans to auction a vast collection of memorabilia

Tim Walker
Friday 28 November 2014 19:35
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Burt Reynolds was once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, but now the star of such classics as Deliverance, Boogie Nights and Smokey and the Bandit is not so much bankable as bankrupt.

And next month, to help alleviate his financial woes, Reynolds plans to auction a vast collection of memorabilia, including items from some of his most memorable films.

More than 600 lots will go on the block at the auction, to be hosted by the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas on 11 and 12 December. Among them is the red jacket Reynolds wore in Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), an American football helmet from the hit prison comedy The Mean Machine (1974), and a pair of cowboy boots from the 1996 mega-flop Striptease, which also starred Demi Moore as an FBI agent-turned stripper.

Reynolds is even flogging a handful of awards, such as his 1991 Emmy for Evening Shade, and two Golden Globes, including the Best Supporting Actor gong he won for playing a porn director in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights in 1998. That role was considered something of a comeback for the now-78-year-old Reynolds, who had fallen out of fashion since his 1970s heyday.

Formerly an aspiring American football player, Reynolds turned to acting after sustaining an injury while playing for Florida State University. His big-screen breakthrough came in John Boorman’s Oscar-nominated 1972 drama Deliverance. As well as being one of the Seventies’ biggest box-office draws, Reynolds was also a sex symbol, once famously appearing naked in Playgirl magazine. His moustache has long since entered the pantheon of Hollywood facial hair, alongside those of Chaplin and Selleck.

Yet with two divorces and several failed extracurricular ventures behind him, including his ownership of an American football team and an Atlanta nightclub, “Burt’s Place”, Reynolds’s financial situation has often been rocky. He was declared bankrupt during the 1990s after accruing debts of almost $10m (£6.4m), and more recently ran into difficulty after undergoing back surgery and a quintuple heart bypass in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

This year, Reynolds failed to avoid a lawsuit from Bank of America, which is threatening to foreclose on his five-bedroom home in Florida, claiming the actor has not made a payment on his mortgage in more than four years, and now owes more than $1.4m in missed payments. Reynolds has tried in vain to sell the house, which is named “Valhalla”, with the asking price tumbling from $9m to $2.9m since 2011.

The star has reportedly been teaching acting classes in Florida while writing his memoir, which is due to be published next year. The book is expected to contain details of Reynolds’s many romantic adventures, including his rumoured relationships with Smokey co-star Sally Field, country singer Tammy Wynette, tennis champ Chris Evert and Dolly Parton, whom he appeared alongside in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982).

In the auction catalogue, Reynolds waxes nostalgic, writing: “I’ve collected so many things that I truly adore but at this stage in my life I find it very difficult to manage them all. It truly is the time to downsize and for these items that I have loved over the years to find new homes where they can be cared for and appreciated.”

Bidding can be done live or online. Among the other lots are an engraved Colt revolver, a wooden canoe like the one used in Deliverance, Several portraits of Reynolds, including one of him as a Navajo Indian, a custom-made horse carriage given to Reynolds by Parton as a gift, and a set of personalised coat-hangers.

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