Burt Reynolds uncovered: The shocking documentary dives into pain pill struggles, romantic entanglements, and financial rollercoaster

    Explore the peaks and valleys of a larger-than-life gigure: Unveiling the major Insights from 'I Am Burt Reynolds' documentary, premiering Dec. 31 on The CW

    Burt Reynolds (Source: Playboy)

    Burt Reynolds (Source: Playboy)

    In the early 1970s, Burt Reynolds achieved worldwide fame as a leading actor with a series of successful films like "Smokey and the Bandit." Beyond his cinematic success, he emerged as one of Hollywood's prominent sex symbols, even daring to bare it all in a Cosmopolitan centerfold in 1972, primarily for the sheer amusement of it.

    Behind the Scenes

    "Making a movie star lifestyle appear enjoyable was his forte," remarked director Adam Rifkin, who worked with Burt Reynolds in 2017's "The Last Movie Star." In the currently airing documentary, "I Am Burt Reynolds" on The CW, close friends and family, including Loni Anderson, along with colleagues like Rifkin, Jon Voight, and Bruce Dern, unveil personal anecdotes about Reynolds. The legendary actor passed away from heart failure in Jupiter, Florida, in 2018.

    Burt Reynolds (Source: X)

    However, a shadow loomed over his life. In the documentary, Loni Anderson, his ex-wife, sheds light on his enduring struggle with prescription drug addiction and occasional bouts of violence. She delves into his financial woes, recounting how he fell victim to scams, invested poorly, and, as a known lavish spender, ultimately filed for bankruptcy in 1996.

    The Romantic Charisma of Burt Reynolds

    Reynolds had a deep affection for women, and the feeling was reciprocated. In the documentary, his high school sweetheart Ann Scurry reminisces, "He was an extraordinary kisser, a gentle lover. He was possessive, but it was a comforting possession." Another former high school girlfriend, Mary Alice Sullivan, adds, "He treated his women with utmost care. Quite the opposite of being rough, he always ensured the lady came first." His legacy as a charismatic ladies' man persisted throughout his life and career.

    Burt Reynolds (Source: THR)

    Reynolds caught the attention of theater scouts, prompting a move to New York for stage productions. Despite receiving acclaim for his early Broadway shows, Hollywood opportunities were limited. Consequently, he ventured to Italy alongside Clint Eastwood to partake in Spaghetti Westerns. While Eastwood swiftly ascended to stardom with "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," Reynolds humorously reflected that his own Westerns, such as "Navajo Joe," didn't attract as much attention.

    Reynolds, a former football player and certified stuntman, transitioned to movie stardom, but years of physical strain resulted in persistent back pain. To cope, he turned to prescription pills, and, as noted by his "Deliverance" co-star Jon Voight, "He wasn't careful about it." Wrestling with an addiction to pain medication for the majority of his life, Reynolds eventually sought rehabilitation in the late 1990s. Expressing concern, he once confided in a friend, saying, "Don't let me end up like Elvis."

    The Rise and Fall of Burt Reynolds' Fortune

    Reflecting on Reynolds' financial habits, Anderson remarks, "If he made $100, he spent $100." Despite once boasting a net worth of $60 million, Reynolds had a penchant for showering friends and family with extravagant gifts. His possessions included a private jet, a helicopter, multiple coastal properties in Florida, a ranch, and a dinner theater. 

    Known for his philanthropy, he also made substantial donations to his alma mater. However, his financial downfall came with a failed $13 million investment in a restaurant chain. Subsequently, Reynolds faced years of signing over his film and TV residuals to creditors.

    Burt Reynolds (Source: LA Times)

    Reynolds initially rejected the part of the porn star director in the drama on multiple occasions. However, the film's screenwriter and director, Paul Thomas Anderson, managed to persuade him that it could lead to an Academy Award. Faced with financial considerations, Reynolds eventually accepted. The role marked a resurgence in his career, earning him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. 

    Unfortunately, he lost to Robin Williams, who won for "Good Will Hunting." The defeat weighed heavily on him. When questioned in an interview about what he imagined God might say upon his arrival in heaven, Reynolds, with a wry smile, quipped, "He should've won."