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Burt Reynolds: The Pro Wrestler’s Actor

Burt Reynolds: The Pro Wrestler’s Actor
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The following editorial was written by Dominic DeAngelo and does not reflect the opinions of WrestleZone as a whole. We encourage you all to discuss Dominic’s thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this post and follow him on Twitter @DominicDeAngelo.

Hollywood lost one of its all-time biggest stars yesterday when legendary actor Burt Reynolds passed away at the age of 82. His most notable moment in wrestling came at WrestleMania X as a guest ring announcer, but the leading man born in Lansing, MI in many ways had qualities that were extremely relatable to the world of professional wrestling. Some of those bad ass aspects started off at an early age as Burt shared the following story of his father in a 2015 interview with Men’s Journal:

“I idolized my father, but for whatever reason, it was hard for us to talk. He was the chief of police in Riviera Beach, Florida, and I never knew him out of uniform.

Once at 3 am, he got a call and brought me along. There was a big fight at this famous bar that was just a real bad place. The guy in the middle of it was huge, but when my dad slapped him, he went down. There was an audible gasp because you don’t go down when you get slapped, especially if you’re 6-foot-5 and over 200 pounds. On the way home, my dad took his glove off, and he had brass knuckles inside. He said, “You should always have a slight edge when you get some asshole.”

Burt didn’t start off as an actor. He was actually a collegiate running back for Florida State before a 1957 car accident put an end to his spleen and his days on the gridiron. The Seminole accolades is something you could imagine Jim Ross lauding on his resume if Burt ever did tie on a pair of wrestling boots.

And if you think about it, he could’ve by all standards.

Reynolds started off as a stuntman and utilized that talent for many of his roles, and being one of Hollywood’s first action heroes, The Bandit had a lot of memorable personas. From a wayward imprisoned quarterback to an airboat riding ex-con on the bayou named Gator (ironic considering to his FSU ties), Reynolds had that southern appeal that would’ve fit right in with a Crockett Promotions, a Mid South or Memphis Wrestling (although Jerry Jarrett would have had to pay him way more than he’d have wanted to).

Burt had that “it factor” charisma that only a handful of wrestling talent gets blessed with. In one swift stick shift of a Trans Am, he could melt a woman’s heart with a Cosmopolitan centerfold, spear a backwoods psychopath through the chest with a well-timed arrow or yuck it up with Dom DeLuise on Carson.

From Sally Field to Faye Dunaway, Burt lived a fast-lane lifestyle that made it difficult for Ric Flair to keep up. He’d spend money as fast as he’d receive it, owned a private jet (with helicopter) and had a list of relationships with starlets as long as Jericho’s 1,004 holds.

“I’ve gone through all my money, twice. I mean all of it.”

And Burt was no stranger to factions. Along with DeLuise, Reynolds ran with a crew of familiar faces like character actor Charles Durning, singer Jerry Reed and Ned Beatty, often casting them in featured roles in his latest blockbuster. He even “ran his own territory” Verne Gagne style by starring in and directing the 1981 drama-thriller Sharky’s Machine.

Similar to many in Hollywood and in wrestling, Burt’s star did fade, but like a Flair or Funk of old, he had a career resurgence with 1997’s Boogie Nights and several guest appearances as himself on FX’s Archer.

At his height, Reynold earned roughly $10 million a year as Tinseltown’s biggest babyface. It’s no wonder so many wrestlers of old admired him.


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