Friday, February 11, 2011

Rant #443: Happy No. 75 to the Ultimate "Good Ole Boy"

Burt Reynolds is 75 today.

During the early 1970s, Reynolds was probably the hottest movie star in the world. His "good ole boy" persona was captured in such films as "The Longest Yard," "Gator," and "Smokey and the Bandit," and he was able to show his dramatic side in "Deliverance."

No, he wasn't the greatest actor in the world, but everyone seemed to love him.

Prior to this stardom, Reynolds was just another busy actor in the 1960s, appearing on lots of TV shows. He even starred in a few (remember "Dan August"?).

Then he posed nude in Cosmopolitan magazine and his career went skyward.

But after the 1970s and early 1980s, his career basically fell flat on its face. Several really bad movies (remember "Rent-A-Cop"?), divorces, and other stuff made him a has-been.

He did star in the fairly successful TV show, "Evening Shade," and produced several TV game shows, but his real comeback was as Jack Horner in "Boogie Nights," a role that landed him an Oscar nomination.

He hasn't done anything up to that standard since, but he remains a very popular actor and guest star in TV shows.

But 35 years ago, he was Hollywood's biggest star.

I remember a memorable "Tonight" show where he just strolled into one of the tapings, supposedly unannounced (although I find this hard to believe) and took over the show. He had a seltzer bottle, and after shooting everyone around him with seltzer, he put the nozzle down his pants and shot himself. It was hilarious.

There has been a rumor going for years that Reynolds was such a huge star at the time that he was offered the James Bond role prior to Roger Moore getting that plum part, but this has never been substantiated, but it has never been refuted either.

Anyway, Reynolds turns 75 today. Somehow, you just don't think of him as an older gentleman; you still have that vision in your head of that good ole boy drinking a beer while and explosion is going off in the background.

And that is the image that will live on forever in the movies.

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