Burt Reynolds’ First Movie


Burt Reynolds, Florida State ’57 was born on February 11, 1936, in Lansing, Michigan. Reynolds attended Florida State University on a football scholarship, but an injury led him to pursue acting. In 1957, Reynolds received his big break after he appeared in a New York City Center revival of Mister Roberts and subsequently signed a TV contract. Reynolds appeared regularly on television, with roles on RiverboatGunsmokeHawk, and Dan August, where he became a familiar face to television audiences. In 1961, Reynolds made his film debut in the movie Angel Baby, based on the novel Jenny Angel by Elsie Oakes Barber. The film was released on May 14, 1961, and starred George Hamilton and Salome Jens.

Both handsome and charming, Reynolds also increased his popularity in the early 1970s by appearing on numerous TV talk shows. His breakthrough role did not come until 1972’s Deliverance, which established him as both a star and a serious actor. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Reynolds remained one of Hollywood’s most sought-after superstars, with films ranging from Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) to Starting Over (1979).

With his film career waning in the mid-1980s, Reynolds returned to the small screen with the popular sitcom Evening Shade, for which he won an Emmy in 1991 and a Golden Globe in 1992. In the mid-1990s, Reynolds began his film comeback with his role as a drunken congressman in Striptease (1996). Although the film was a critical failure, Reynolds’ performance earned widespread kudos. His luck continued the following year when Paul Thomas Anderson cast him as a porn director in his acclaimed Boogie Nights, for which Reynolds won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award.

Read the cover story about Burt Reynolds from the Winter 1984-85 edition of The Scroll.