Better late than never, right? Well, that sentiment, while applicable in many situations, doesn’t necessarily explain why legendary actor Burt Reynolds wasn’t laid to rest for a full two and half years after his passing.
Widely considered to be one of the most prominent sex symbols of the 1970s, Burt Reynolds, for the uninitiated, was an American actor who first rose to prominence starring in television series such as Gunsmoke, Hawk, and Dan August. While he enjoyed leading roles in a couple of fairly obscure 60s films such as Navajo Joe and 100 Rifles, Reynolds’s big breakthrough film role was portraying the character Lewis Medlock in 1972s Deliverance.
Burt went on to play the lead, often portrayed as the lovable rogue, in a series of commercially successful 70s films such as White Lightning, The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, and Hooper – just to name a few.
While he reached peak box office success in the 70s, Reynolds continued to enjoy a prominent place in pop culture throughout the 80s, appearing in flicks like The Cannonball Run, Sharky’s Machine, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Later in his acting career, after a couple of box office failures, Reynolds returned to TV, starring in the early 90s sitcom Evening Shade. In 1997, he took another stab at cinema, appearing in Paul Thomas Anderson’s critically acclaimed period comedy-drama film Boogie Nights.
Throughout his prolific career, Reynolds was honored with several Emmy, Golden Globe, and BAFTA nominations and awards. On top of that, he was voted the world’s number one box-office star from 1978 to 1982 in the yearly Top Ten Money-Making Stars Poll.
Clearly, Burt Reynolds was top of his class. Even though his personal life was often marred with controversy and financial woes, no one ever argues against him being one of the most influential performers of his time.
On September 6, 2018, Reynolds died of a heart attack at the Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Florida. He was 82 at the time of his death, and shortly after his passing, his ex-wife Loni Anderson and their son Quinton held a small, private memorial service for him.
Surprisingly, however, it took more than two years before his remains were interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In this video, we’ll be attempting to figure out why it took so long for Reynolds to be laid to rest.
Facts Verse Presents: Burt Reynolds Wasn’t Buried Until 2 Years After He Died
A Fitting End
On February 11, 2021, Burt Reynolds finally reached his final resting place at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. His cremated remains were placed in a grave near a lake almost two and a half years after his passing. At the cemetery, a private ceremony was held in which many of Reynolds’ relatives attended remotely via Zoom.
Marking the spot where the late actors’ remains are interred is a temporary headstone that simply reads “Burt Reynolds”. But in addition to that grave marker, a bronze stone bust of Burt was commissioned with the hopes that it could be unveiled and displayed to the public later that year in September, commemorating the third anniversary of his death. We’ll be addressing that statue in more detail in just a moment, so stick around.
After the small yet dignified ceremony was held, a wreath and flower arrangement was placed on his grave. A fan of Reynolds also made an appearance and placed a miniature Trans Am, the vehicle that Reynolds became synonymous with through his Smokey and the Bandit films, on his grave.
Incidentally, the day that this ceremony was held would have marked Reynolds’s 85th birthday.
A Change Of Plans
Burton Leon Reynolds Jr was born on the 11th of February, 1936, to parents Harriet Fernette and Burton Milo Reynolds. Burt was born in Lansing, Michigan, which is where his family lived while his father was drafted into the US Army, although there does seem to be a bit of confusion about his birthplace, as Reynolds often claimed throughout his life that he was born in Waycross, Georgia.
Reynolds moved around quite a bit as a child, which isn”t that surprising considering his father’s military status. A few places that he and his family lived included Fort Lenonard Wood, Missouri, Lake City, Michigan, and Riviera Beach Florida.
Burt attended Palm Beach High School, where he played football and was named First Team All-State and All-Southern as a fullback. He also received multiple scholarship offers. After wrapping up high school, Reynolds attended Florida State University on a full football scholarship. He ended up having a fantastic freshman year playing football, but unfortunately, he injured his knee in the very first game of his sophomore year.
Later that year, he injured his other knee in a car accident and also had to have his spleen removed. Because of these health issues, Burt wasn’t able to return to the university for about two years. When he did return to Florida State in 1957, he found that his leg injury slowed him down out on the field. To make matters worse, he ended up getting blamed for his team’s loss to North Carolina State on the 12th of October, 1957.
Immediately after that game, he told his coach and teammates that he was done playing football.
Really though, as difficult as that decision must have been for him to make, it set the ball in motion that would eventually lead Reynolds to find his true passion. In between his studies at Florida State University, while he was recovering from his injuries, Burt studied at Palm Beach Junior College.
While there, he was in an English class taught by a professor named Watson Boone Duncan III. Duncan ended up becoming Reynolds biggest mentor and motivator and pushed him into trying out for a play that he was producing titled Outward Bound. After hearing Reynolds read Shakespeare in his class, Duncan decided to go out on a limb and cast him in the lead role.
As it turned out, Reynolds had a significant amount of raw, natural talent. With Duncan’s help, he went on to win the Florida State Drama Award which included a scholarship to the Hyde Park Playhouse, a summer stock theater company in Hyde Park, New York.
While working a variety of jobs, including waiting tables, washing dishes, and working as a bouncer at the Roseland Ballroom, Reynolds spent the next couple of years appearing in a number of stage productions throughout New York. He made his Broadway debut in a production of Look, We’ve Come Through, which was received with favorable reviews and prompted a cross-country tour.
Reynolds made his television debut in the late 50s appearing in minor roles in shows like M Squad, Flight, The Lawless Years, and Pony Express. In 1959, he received his first big break when he shared the screen with Darren McGavin in the lead role of the series Riverboat.
From that moment onward, Reynolds’s star continued to grow, and since we already gave you a fairly well-rounded overview of his acting career in the intro, we’ll go ahead and skip on over to what led up to his death and subsequently delayed burial.
A Series Of Ups And Downs
Not only was Burt’s professional life full of high and low points, but so was his personal life. He was married and divorced twice. He was married to his first wife , English actress, Judy Carne from 1963 to 1965. He then dated singer and actress Dinah Shore from 1971 to 1975.
After briefly dating Tammy Wynette, Reynolds struck up a relationship with actress Sally Field. The two would be together on-and-off from 1976 to 1980. Years later, Burt would say that Field was the love of his life.
From 1988 to 1994, Reynolds was married to actress Loni Anderson. The two adopted a son together, named Quinton, but ended up separating after Burt fell in love with a cocktail waitress named Pam Seals. Unfortunately for Reynolds, that illicit relationship ended up not only ending his marriage but it also resulted in a series of lawsuits that would cost him dearly in the long run.
In 1984, Reynolds was injured when he was struck in the face with a metal chair while on the set of the film City Heat.This injury led to him getting addicted to prescription painkillers. This addiction would plague him for many years.
Despite his lucrative acting career, Reynolds’s extravagant lifestyle combined with several failed investments in a number of Florida restaurant chains led to him filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1996.
In 2009, he underwent back surgery and the following year he had quintuple coronary artery bypass surgery. In 2011, Reynolds’s ranch home in Hobe Sound, Florida, was foreclosed on by Merrill Lynch Credit Corporation, who claimed that he owed more than $1.2 million. The ranch, which was where several scenes in Smokey and the Bandit were filmed, was sold in April 2014.
He’s At Peace Now
It’s not entirely clear why it took 2 ½ years for Reynolds’ gravesite to be established, but we do know that his niece Nancy Hess was made the overseer of Burt’s estate following his death. Hess was also the one who possessed Reynolds’s cremated ashes in the years leading up to his official funeral ceremony.
Reynolds’s grave is near the mausoleums and graves of stars like Tyrone Power, Judy Garland, Cecil B. DeMile, Douglas Fairbanks, and Rudolph Valentino.
As planned, the bronze bust of Reynold’s likeness was erected at his gravesite in September 2021. At the statue’s commemoration ceremony, Reynold’s ex-wife Loni Anderson was there to help with it’s unveiling.
Since then, Nancy Hess has produced a touching, albeit candidly in-depth, biographical documentary about her uncle titled I Am Burt Reynolds which premiered in 2020.
It’s rather odd that it took more than 2 years for Burt Reynolds’ remains to be interred, but as of now, we still don’t have a solid explanation for why that happened.
Even so, it’s nice to see that Reynold’s has been immortalized with that epic bronze statue. Whoever the artist was that designed and produced it should pat themselves on the back, because the resemblance is uncanny.
On that note, we’ll go ahead and wrap this video up, but before you go, we’d like to hand you the mic for a second and let your voice be heard. What do you think was Burt Reynolds’s best film, and do you think that it’s a bit strange that his funeral wasn’t held until more than two years after his passing? Let us know in the comments, and as always, thanks for watching.