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While doing his best to maintain appearances—“I don’t know why they think divorced people don’t drink orange juice,” he said—he knew the end was nigh when CBS canceled and sold its syndication rights for peanuts.

Suddenly, his annual income was sinking toward six figures.

These outlays, coupled with the ,000 a month Reynolds had spent on lawyers and divorce-related expenses over the previous year, reduced his net worth to million.

Worse, the divorce circus killed Reynolds’s endorsement deals with Quaker State and the Florida Citrus Commission.

His real-estate portfolio included, in addition to Valhalla, a 153-acre ranch in Jupiter, Florida; a spread in Arkansas; mansions in Beverly Hills and Malibu; a Tara-like estate in Georgia; and a mountaintop retreat in the Smokies of North Carolina. So, when his business manager, Sandy Simon, suggested a promising investment opportunity, Reynolds didn’t sweat the small print—especially since he was partnering with his old friend Buddy Killen, a country-music mogul.

He owned a private jet, a helicopter, and numerous custom-made sports cars, among them a Trans Am used to promote Plus 150 horses. Just like that, the two pumped million apiece into a regional restaurant chain called Po’ Folks, whose down-homey southern fare could be had at 30 locations in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana.


Last year, after Reynolds auctioned off personal possessions—among them the 1998 Golden Globe award he won for his role in published this month by G. We met in his living room, an airy, vaguely retro space anchored by an electric-blue rug, a mirrored wall, and two opposing white sofas. “I love it here so much.”If you were a young moviegoer in the early 1980s, as I was, you were pretty much compelled to take sides on the matter of Burt Reynolds.

There, behind a circular driveway and a grand fountain, stands a 12,500-square-foot waterfront mansion that might be described as Spanish Revival meets Southern Plantation meets Burt-and-Loni. There are a couple of actors who are quite brilliant with the way they’ve handled their money.” He smiles.

It was here that Reynolds and his second wife, Loni Anderson, played out much of their calamitous five-year disunion, which ended in 1993, accelerating Reynolds’s slide into bankruptcy, foreclosure proceedings, shame, and retreat. “But they’re not very good actors.”When I mention the auction rumor, he rejects it with relish. “That’s one of the rare things that does piss me off.” He adds, “I’m not bankrupt, by any means.

After an auction of many of his most iconic belongings, the Hollywood legend is back with a memoir about the famous people he worked with and loved.

Ned Zeman tracks the Bandit down at his Florida mansion for a discussion about his career, his breakups (including that one with Sally Field), and what really cost him the most.

He’d even stiffed a framing shop and his toupee-maker.


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