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Burt Reynolds fans are of a certain age, looking at the people browsing the pre auction opening of Reynolds memorabilia at the Brenden Palms Hotel and Casino proved that the demographic who are interested in buying a bit of a pop culture icon, and pretty prolific actor, are not part of the 18 – 49 preferred target group of the Hollywood machine. This 78 year old star, who had to wait until the 1998 film Boogie Nights to get an Oscar nomination, has been a presence in Hollywood and on the screens of the world, big and small, since 1958. It has been said of the Smokey and the Bandit star that he has had more failed television series than any other actor in Tinseltown and while that may, or may not be true, it is unarguable that few in that town have as many credits under their belt as Reynolds. The “Bandit” has 178 for acting alone.
One of the more celebrity oriented websites on the Internet has slyly opined that Burt must be in financial difficulties. Certainly it could appear that way to the casual observer, but those who have watched Reynolds throughout his long career know that this man likes to do things his way. Those old enough to remember the actor on Gunsmoke (1955 – 1975) will also remember when Burt met the late Helen Gurley Brown, another age specific famous person, on a television talk show who then challenged the star to pose naked on the Cosmopolitan magazine’s center spread. Reynolds rose to the occasion, no pun intended, and did indeed pose with a bearskin rug (so very un PC these days, sorry PETA) an ashtray, a cigar and one very strategically placed forearm.
The items on sale in the Julien’s temporary auction showroom at the Las Vegas Brenden Palms resort, cover a broad range of Burt Reynolds’ career and many are part of a few decades worth of pop culture curios to buy and be treasured by his adoring public. Make no mistake, however, there are not any rumors of retirement for this man, not at all. One has only to mosey over to IMDb and it is immediately obvious that Burt is very busy working as both a character actor and, as the English say, taking the mickey out of himself by “playing” himself in a variety of different mediums.
Looking around the pre auction room, which will be open on December 11 for the world to bid on these items of interest for those who are fans of Reynolds’ career and Hollywood in general, there are a large number of things that any collector would kill for. A canoe from Deliverance, a slew of cowboy boots and hat from Smokey and the Bandit, a Mean Machine jersey from The Longest Yard and many more items, including signed photographs of his pal Clint Eastwood, the late James Stewart, Gregory Peck and others are among the bits and bobs on offer.
The most fascinating bits of memorabilia being place under the hammer are the curios from The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing. This somewhat eclectic western starred Burt, an impressive number of character actors, along with George Hamilton, and British actress Sarah Miles as the love interest. It is Miles that provided the backstage, or back-camera, events that make these items stand out from the rest. The married actress had a male friend with either an unhealthy obsession with her, or was a very close pal, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, that her hubby either did or did not know about, depending upon whom was asked. Regardless of the truth of the matter, this fellow wound up very dead in Miles’ hotel room at the location of the film shoot.
When the police arrived, everyone, including the film’s star Reynolds, were submitted to questioning. It was, as they say, a proper three day wonder, which eventually went to the back of the papers and off to obscurity. There is, from this “notorious” film, the hat worn by Burt and an accompanying still from the movie featuring Burt with Sarah Miles. This scandalous event was never really solved to everyone’s satisfaction but obviously did no real damage to Reynolds’ career.
For those who are in the Las Vegas area and interested to see what bit of Burt Reynolds’ pop culture items they can buy at the auction, stop by the Brenden Palms on December 11 and get in on the action. For a quick look at some of the items on sale, see the slideshow below.
By Michael Smith
Brenden Palms Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas
All photos in slideshow by author.