Burt Reynolds was one of the most successful box office actors of the 20th Century. From 1978 to 1982, he was number one on the list of highest-grossing movie stars. He earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, won a Golden Globe Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for the CBS show Evening Shade, and racked up numerous other accolades, like the Florida State Drama Award. But, for Reynolds, who died of a heart attack on September 6, 2018 at the age of 82, finances were a constant struggle.
Even someone as successful as Reynolds was capable of suffering financially. Throughout his career, he accumulated a host of money and health issues that landed him in heaps of trouble.
Burt Reynolds’ Life and Business Ventures
The Lansing, Michigan-born Burt Reynolds led an interesting life, even outside of his acting career. He dated and married some of the most prominent actresses of his time, including now ex-wife Loni Anderson (with whom he adopted his son, Quinton), Judy Carne, Dinah Shore, and co-star Sally Field.
Besides acting, Reynolds persisted in several other entrepreneurial, artistic, and personal pursuits. Interestingly enough, Reynolds owned Mach 1 Racing, which was a NASCAR Winston Cup Series team. Harry Gant drove his No. 33 “Skoal Bandit” car.
Reynolds also opened a dinner-theater in Jupiter, Florida and a night club Atlanta, Georgia called Burt’s Place. Later, he opened another restaurant in Fort Lauderdale with Jack Jackson called Burt & Jack’s. A lifelong football fan, Reynolds was a majority owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits.
Reynolds’ Florida-based dinner-theater was primarily focused on promoting emerging actors, and, later in life, he endorsed the construction of a performing arts facility in Sarasota, Florida. Florida State University issued him an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters for his work as an actor and within the acting community.
The Atlanta film scene also has a special connection to the late Reynolds, as he is cherished as the first industry insider to make movies in Atlanta, which is now the filming location of hundreds of high-grossing movies.
Burt Reynolds’ Career and Struggles
Some of Reynolds’ early work included roles in the television shows Gunsmoke, Riverboat, and Dan August, but the American actor’s career really took over with Deliverance in 1972. After that, he was able to secure role in films like Smokey and the Bandit, Semi-Tough, The Longest Yard, Hooper, The End, The Cannonball Run, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Sadly, on the set of the 1984 film City Heat, Reynolds suffered a severe accident. His jaw was permanently damaged, and, over the course of his recovery, he became addicted to prescription painkillers.
During this time, Reynolds was also caught up in the homophobic witch hunt of the 1980s. While recovering from his on-set injuries and subsequent addiction, he lost nearly 50 pounds, which led to rumors that he was suffering from HIV. As a result, he had an extremely difficult time finding work in the film and television industry for years.
However, his career found its footing again in 1997 following the release of the hit box-office drama Boogie Nights. After that, he was able to secure roles in films like Big City Blues, Hard Time, The Hunter’s Moon, The Crew, The Last Producer, and The Hollywood Sign. He also voiced Avery Carrington, a main character in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
Unfortunately, Reynolds continued to struggle even after his career revival. His businesses fell into bankruptcy, and he also went through several house foreclosures. He himself filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1996.
Burt Reynolds Net Worth
Reynolds lost most of his peak $60 million net worth by the time of his passing, however, he did manage to overcome his bankruptcy and returned well into the black. At the time of his death in 2018, he was worth about $5 million. Ever the proud hedonist, Burton Leon Reynolds Jr. only had one regret when it came to his finances. In an interview not long before his passing, Reynolds stated that he only wished he had spent even more.
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This post was originally published on October 25, 2019.