9 things you didn't know about Burt Reynolds, 1936-2018

The actor passed away today at the age of 82.

click to enlarge We'll always remember you as the sexy outlaw, Burt. - Production Still
Production Still
We'll always remember you as the sexy outlaw, Burt.

By now you've read that Burt Reynolds, the salt to Loni Anderson's pepper (before she went on an, ahem, low-sodium diet), the man who made it cool to run moonshine (OK, so that was already kinda cool), and the man who played football for Florida State University, has died. 

He was 82.

He died in a Florida hospital, and while much is rumored but nothing is known, we thought we'd focus on his Florida life and times rather than his death. Here are 9 things you might not have known about Burt Reynolds.

1. He was part owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits, part of the USFL league, for four years (1982-1986).

2. In fact, the team's name comes from his film, Smokey and the Bandit.

3. His 1976 film, Gator, dealt with corrupt politicians and the Okeefenokee Swamp. Wait, political corruption and Florida? Unheard of. (While the film was shot in Georgia, the swamp runs through south Georgia and north Florida).

4. He also had a role in the movie adaptation of Carl Hiaasen's Striptease, which deals with Big Sugar, corrupt politicians in Florida and strippers. Demi Moore tended to get most of the attention in the film, but Reynolds' performance was off-the-chart amazing.

5. While he was born in Lansing, he — as the saying goes — got here as quickly as he could: When he was 10, his family moved to Riviera Beach, Florida. 

6. He went to Florida State University on a football scholarship, but a knee injury ended his career. 

7. Without a football scholarship, he resumed his scholarly career at Palm Beach Junior College, where a teacher encouraged him to try out for a play, Outward Bound. The director cast him as the lead, and his performance earned him the 1956 Florida State Drama Award.

8. He was part owner in Burt & Jack's, a restaurant in Port Everglades. The restaurant closed in 2002, citing the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as the reason for a decline in business.

9. Scenes from Smokey and the Bandit were filmed at his Hobe Sound estate, which he later lost due to financial troubles. 

About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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