Thanks to hit movies like “The Longest Yard”, “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Boogie Nights”, American actor, director, producer and author Burt Reynolds had his best Hollywood days between the late 1970s and mid-1980s, periods when he earned as much as $10 million annually.
However, just as quickly, he lost his money to bad business decisions. But somewhere along the line, Reynolds picked himself up with the help of a couple of successful gigs. By the early 1990’s he was worth $15 million.
Owing to a number of factors, chiefly his messy divorce from Loni Anderson, he couldn’t quite keep up. Reynolds gradually lost his possessions and in 2014 auctioned off a host of them. In recent times, the veteran is estimated to be worth of $5 million. He maintains a certain level of activity and has vowed to continue doing so until his dying day. Read on to discover more about his incredible financial debacle and other details of his life.
Burt Reynolds Biography
Burton Leon Reynolds was born on February 11, 1936, in Lansing, Michigan. At the age of 12, his family moved to Riviera Beach, Florida where he attended Palm Beach High School. In high school, Reynolds excelled in football, playing as a fullback. He earned multiple scholarship offers and proceeded to Florida State University where he continued playing football. Reynolds aspired to play professional football but his dreams were thwarted by an injury which was then exacerbated by a car accident.
Reynolds then sought to become a parole officer. However, while continuing his studies at Palm Beach Junior College, he decided to pursue acting instead. His change of heart came after his performance in a play titled “Outward Bound” earned him the 1956 Florida State Drama Award.
Within the next decade, Reynolds appeared in numerous theatre productions, honed his acting skills and began landing small roles in TV shows and films. His ultimate breakthrough role came in “Deliverance” (1972). The movie earned critical acclaim, receiving 3 Oscars and 5 Golden Globe nods. It earned over $46 million against a mere $2 million budget. The same year, Reynolds’ popularity shot through the roof after he posed nude for Cosmopolitan’s centrefold.
Over the next few years, Reynolds became a box office darling with top hits like football movie, “The Longest Yard” (1974), “Semi-Tough” (1977) and “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977). The later became his biggest box office hit to date and the second-highest grossing movie of 1977 behind “Star Wars” grossing $300 million against $4.3 million. Its massive success led to the development of Burt Reynolds™ brand. Also in 1977, Reynolds was contacted to play the role of Han Solo in the Star Wars movie but he declined, a decision that certainly came to haunt him years later. The role then went to Harrison Ford.
Reynolds also established a number of businesses. First was a nightclub restaurant called Burt’s Place housed in the Omni International Hotel, Atlanta. There was also Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre in Jupiter, Florida. In 1982, he also became a part-owner of Tampa Bay Bandits, a pro football team in the budding United States Football League (USFL).
Burt Reynolds Estimated Earnings
By the 1980s, Reynolds was earning as much as $5 million per movie role, bringing his annual income to over $10 million. At this point, he had begun living luxuriously. He paid $700,000 for a 3-acre estate in Hobe Sound, Florida dubbed “Valhalla”. The beachfront mansion measures 12,500 square feet and includes 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a 2-bedroom guesthouse, a helipad, waterfront dock, outdoor, cabana, and movie screening room.
Additionally, his other properties included; an estate in Georgia, a vacation home in Smokies of North Carolina, mansions in Beverly Hills and Malibu, an extensive property in Arkansas, and a 153-acre ranch in Jupiter, Florida.
The “ladies man” (as he was now known due to his unending affair with co-stars including Sally Field which he called “the love of his life”) also owned a helicopter, private jet, and of course a wide range of customized sports cars. He also loved horses and owned about 27 at a time bringing his total lifetime ownership to at least 100.
Unfortunately, Reynolds lost money as fast as he made them as most of his businesses proved unsuccessful. This was further compounded by two other wrong business investments both in restaurant chains – “Po’ Folks” and “Daisy’s Diner”. The former was suggested to him by his business manager Sandy Simon. Without a detailed look at the contract, Reynolds alongside his buddy country-music tycoon Buddy Killen invested $20 million each into the business which soon proved to be unsustainable.
Reynolds could not also hold anyone responsible for the losses as he inked the contracts as an individual rather than via a corporation who would have shouldered the losses, or better still study the contract better to perceive its potential failure.
Additionally, his aforementioned businesses including his Tampa Bay Bandits and its league all folded. His primary job as an actor also began to wane as he was recording more losses than profits. His heydays appeared to be over right after it started. However, it turned out that Reynolds was his own undoing as his failures were ultimately blamed on his hard-nosed attitude. Being a chronic playboy didn’t help matters.
Like having a bad record among critics wasn’t bad enough, Reynolds picked up an excruciating jaw injury during the filming of “City Heat” (1984) which left his jaw dysfunctional. As a result, eating became difficult causing him to drop 30 pounds and to develop an addiction to painkillers. His predicaments gave the media a field day, chiefly the editors at Florida’s National Enquirer who reported that his weight loss was due to HIV/AIDS.
Nevertheless, Reynolds didn’t walk away without a fight! Literally. He filled his helicopter with horse shit, flew it over to the publication’s building, and emptied its gross contents on its surroundings.
Meanwhile, Reynold’s worth was reduced to a mere $5 million following a messy divorce from his first wife.
Burt Reynolds Wife and Children
Reynolds’ life looked happier when he fell in love with actress Loni Anderson. Their 1988 wedding was held at Burt’s Jupiter ranch. Reynolds later revealed Anderson’s overly materialistic lifestyle in a 2015 interview with Vanity Fair, where he said she would spend $10,000 on a dress that she’d wear but once and at one time, spent $45,000 within half an hour.
After 5 years of marriage, Anderson filed for divorce on the basis of allegations that included physical and substance abuse, as well as infidelity. The divorce would have been easy and straightforward as they had a prenup signed to protect their individual asset. However, a condition in the prenup stated that Anderson could change the terms should the couple have a kid. And they did. They adopted a son named Quinton.
A prospective quiet divorce turned out to be incredibly messy. Reynolds spent almost $50,000 a month on divorce attorneys and other expenses. He was also asked to settle his ex-wife with $235,000 and pay $9,000 every month for the mortgage on her $2 million house. This left Reynolds’ accounts wrecked, reducing his net worth to a mere $5 million.
His CBS TV gig on “Evening Shade” which earned him an Emmy and served as a somewhat comeback was discontinued. His endorsement partners (Quaker State and the Florida Citrus Commission) didn’t want anything to do with him anymore. Poor Reynolds had bills and tonnes of debts to settle. With nothing else to fall back on, he began selling off his properties and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1996 declaring $11.2 million in debts against assets shy of $6.7 million.
He kept acting though and found luck with “Boogie Nights” (1996) which grossed $43 million against $15 million and earned him a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nod. But that was the best he could get from his day job as other roles brought nothing but peanuts.
The bankruptcy case was closed in 1998 but Reynolds was still having a few money problems. He was forced to put his very beloved Valhalla Florida mansion on the market in 2006 at the asking price of $15 million. It reduced to $10.5 million in 2008. Still, no one showed interest. By 2011, Merrill Lynch Credit Corporation came with a foreclosure threat, revealing the actor was still owing $1.2 million on the mortgage and had not paid a dime for it in 2010.
Following his sad debacle, Reynolds decided to keep a low profile, with seldom appearances on red carpet events. However, in 2014, he made headlines when he announced the auction of 600 of his personal items including movie memorabilia.
Numerous tabloids, (as if they had not learned their lesson from the horse-shit incidence) began reporting that the actor was dead broke again. This time, Reynolds took the milder approach in response by just being vocal. He told ET in an interview that he’s not broke. Instead, he has been dealing with a business dispute for many years as well as a divorce settlement. He dismissed the sales going on as a means to get rid of things he has no need for again.
The fact that the announcement of the auction coincided with his ex-wife’s new legal filing that he still owed her $97,000, made his earlier statement even harder to believe. He was ordered by the court to pay her, including an additional $57,000 in accumulated interest.
The total haul of the 600 items which included his Golden Globe, Emmy, and People Choice Awards came to $2.5 million. More than enough to pay off the outstanding $154,520 owed to Anderson. And he did. In September 2015, it was reported that Reynolds had paid every dime owed to Loni Anderson as part of the divorce settlement, after roughly 22 years, making it one of the longest divorce sagas in Hollywood history.
Reynolds was also married to Judy Carne from 1963 to 1965. She died in 2015 of pneumonia.
Earlier in January 2018, news of Reynolds’ death went viral on social media platforms, causing quite a stir. This comes after a ‘RIP Burt Reynolds’ Facebook page garnered up to one million likes, purporting that the actor died on 8 January 2018.
Regardless, the news turned out to be just another celebrity death hoax. The actor is doing quite well despite the challenges he has had to face.
While Reynolds’ financial debacle is quite a sad one, ultimately, the actor has managed to clear all of his debts and is happy growing old in his dear Valhalla and he keeps making movies. Yes! despite his failing health, Reynolds has vowed to remain active doing what he loves until he dies.
The actor in 2009 had to undergo a back surgery and in the following year a quintuple heart bypass. He made a public appearance in November 2016 at the Key West Film Festival in Florida where he was spotted walking with a cane. He blamed his walking struggles on the fact that he performed most of the stunts during film shoots.
Burt Reynolds has written 3 books including 2015’s “But Enough About Me: A Memoir” and 1997’s “My Life in High Heels.”