Side Note: Before I started writing this post, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” started playing from my Apple Music playlist. All things considered, I feel like that song perfectly conveyed my feelings concerning the legend I’m dedicating this acclamation to.
Usually when I write a tribute about a celebrity that’s passed on, I start with a story about the first time I was introduced to that particular person. However, this article can’t start off that way. The reason being is because I honestly can’t remember the first time I saw Burt Reynolds or heard of him. He was always just there. Burt was always in the news, or on the TV, or in a movie while I was growing up, and he remained a constant in my life as I transitioned into young adulthood.
I remember all the headlines about his and Loni Anderson’s divorce like it was yesterday. One of my favorite episodes of The Golden Girls centered around the ladies getting a chance to Burt Reynolds, and the shenanigans they get into behind the meet and greet. When I was a little girl, I watched All Dogs Go To Heaven a million times (Burt voiced Charlie, the dog that forsaked heaven to get another chance at life). I finally watched Smokey and the Bandit last year (don’t judge me), and I loved every minute of it…not to mention the fact I learned that once upon a time Coors couldn’t be sold east of the Mississippi River, and if it was found past that point, it was considered contraband. Every time I see a case of Coors in Wal-Mart now, the first thing I think of is the Bandit and the Snowman, rushing the beer back to Atlanta for the Burdette brothers.
Even though I hated Boogie Nights as a teenager—I appreciate it a lot more now that I’m grown—I always thought that Burt’s role was the best thing about it. I have to say that one of my favorite performances of his was as Nate Scarborough in The Longest Yard remake. I know y’all are wondering why I haven’t mentioned the original film. To be honest, I tried watching the 1974 version a few years back, but I couldn’t quite get into it. I loved the remake, though (once again, don’t judge me). The Longest Yard remains my second favorite Adam Sandler movie, and Burt Reynolds is a big reason why. The role of the weathered, yet dedicated and compassionate coach fit Burt perfectly. Sadly enough, I didn’t see Burt too much after he starred in the Adam Sandler vehicle. About a year or so ago, I was curious to see what he had been up to, so I looked up his filmography on Wikipedia. It turns out Burtwas still working, mostly on slightly smaller-scale films. Despite having to deal with heart issues and overcoming an addiction to painkillers after being injured, he worked until the very end.
Burt was an extremely handsome, funny and talented man that brought lots of joy to me, my friends and family throughout the years. Plus, he was bold enough to do this (WARNING: NSFW):
He’ll be sorely missed. See you later, Bandit.
Burton Leon Reynolds, Jr.: February 11, 1936 – September 6, 2018
—Written by Nadiya