Sam Burnham, Curator
Burt Reynolds was allegedly born in Michigan. There has been some discussion of that at various times during his life. He somehow managed to find his way to Florida and spent his college days in Tallahassee playing football for the FSU Seminoles.
While he was fairly known for football it was his acting career that made him a household name. He made a pretty good living portraying Southerners on the big and small screen. He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Georgia legend Bo Darville - "The Bandit" of Smokey and the Bandit Fame. Bandit Darville was a good example of Burt's southern characters. A rule breaker, a braggart, but the true Southern hero. With his trusty sidekick Cletus "Snowman" Snow, they raced to Texarkana, Texas to bring back 400 cases of Coors in less than 28 hours with Sheriff Buford T. Justice in hot pursuit.
But The Bandit wasn't his only role as a Southern hero. He defied the threat of "banjo music" and saved the day in 1972's Deliverance. He was also joined by Jerry Reed in 1976's Gator. He led a team of inmates to football glory in as incarcerated quarterback Paul Crewe in 1974's The Longest Yard. He even made a cameo of sorts in the 2005 remake by the same name. In the 1990s he portrayed an Arkansas high school football coach in the sitcom Evening Shade. He had so many roles that left Southerners with a hero - a much needed positive character - to look up to. His characters were often flawed, like the Southerners who adored them. This made them all the more endearing.
We watched him the the Cannonball Run saga, as well as so many others. Perhaps even a few we don't want to mention publicly. But to us, he'll always be The Bandit. And now, he is gone from this Earth. He has followed Sheriff Buford T. Justice, Jackie Gleason who died in 1987 and The Snowman, Jerry Reed who died in 2008.
Rest in Peace, Bandit. Please give our best to Snowman and the Sheriff. And thanks for the memories.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire