LISTEN UP: Recall Burt Reynolds Through His Funny, Touching Audio-biography

The passing of the “Smokey And The Bandit” and “Deliverance” star at age 82 is cause to celebrate his honesty, wit, charm, storytelling, cultural significance and sassiness by listening as he dishes out his own life story.

Celebrate by Listening Up.

"Deliverance"

I suggest if you want to remember the life, cultural imprint and recall the entertainment Reynolds provided, there is no better way than to listen to him personally narrate his story from being a kid who lived to play football to the centerfold of Cosmo to being a movie and then television star.

Even the title of his 2015 autobiography comes with a Burt Reynolds wink: “But Enough About Me, A Memoir.”

He wrote it with Jon Winokur but most importantly personally narrates it himself with that trademark Florida-boy drawl that his pal Jon Voight recalls in his foreword, which gets into when they both starred in “Deliverance,” the 1972 movie that certified Reynolds as a movie star.

This audio book published by Penguin Audio on November 24, 2015 runs 11 hours and 27 minutes. It was so good – and I was not a big BR fan before this – I have listened to it several times, sharing it with friends who laugh along and enjoy his brutal honesty about himself and even his loves.

He never figured out why he married “WKRP In Cincinnati” bombshell Lonnie Anderson but it became an emotional, financial and legal disaster after they were divorced.

He loved many women from Dinah Shore to Sally Field and shares a chapter worth of details and memories on each, as well as other celebrities and friends.

He recalls how he fought for Sally Field to be in the road romp “Smokey and The Bandit,” against the wishes of the studio, Universal, who thought the former “Gidget” and “Flying Nun” was not sexy enough to fit into the raucous comedy.

Reynolds’ found he had tremendous sexual chemistry with Fields and they ended up in a relationship that lasted several years.

He is touching as he says he was always sorry they could not make their relationship work, and he was sorry he never told her that he loved her.

One revelation is that at the end of his life Reynolds wished he had never done the notorious nude centerfold in Cosmopolitan magazine in 1972 because it later hurt his chances for some serious acting roles.

Late in his career, Reynolds was nominated in 1997 for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Boogie Nights.” (He lost that year to Robin Williams in “Good Will Hunting.”)

Boogie Nights

For much of his career Reynolds just played it for laughs and to show he was one of the good old boys as he did in “Smokey and the Bandit.”

The reason to listen to his book is not just that it is enormously entertaining, provides great behind the scenes stuff about stars, but mostly because Reynolds doesn’t hold back. He calls out others but also shoulders the blame for his own problems in life and show biz.

Among the stars he gives a chapter each are Spencer Tracy, Bette Davis, Roy Rogers, Frank Sinatra and Clint Eastwood.

Smokey And The Bandit

You may think you know enough about Burt Reynolds but until you read about growing up the son of the local police chief who didn’t think acting was a real job, and his passion for teaching acting at his Florida school, you only know the guy from late night TV, old movies and TV series reruns.

Give this one a listen. It’s well worth it.

1936-2018

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