One Of Our Acting Faves Grew Up Amongst Us

September 13, 2018

One of my favorite actors, Burt Reynolds, died last week. The former Florida State football star, who was born in Lansing, Mi., began his career acting on many television series including the most popular show in the early 1960’s, “Gunsmoke,” before he made it big on the silver screen with the 1972 classic, “Deliverance.”

Mike Wilcox Mike's Musings Columnist

Mike Wilcox
Mike’s Musings Columnist

Of course he parleyed his “Deliverance” fame into many hit movies like “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Cannonball Run,” “The Longest Yard” and “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” Later he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the 1997 film, “Boogie Nights.”

In his later years we heard very little from Reynolds. One assumed he enjoyed his time at his ranch in Jupiter, Florida. It was only a few months ago, while driving in to work, I heard Reynolds on a morning radio talk show.

It wasn’t the jovial, wisecracking Burt I had seen dozens of times on the “Johnny Carson Show.” No this Burt was somber and at a loss for words through the whole interview. It was sad and I, probably like most of the listeners, knew Burt’s time was coming soon. It was certainly not how I wanted to remember probably the most popular movie star of his era.

As I was reading his Wikipedia, I was shocked to learn Reynolds spent a few of his formative years in Lake City, Mi. Actually I found a poem, Fourth Grader Reynolds had written in a class at Merritt Elementary. His teacher, Jean Davis, who kept this poem as a cherished possession for so many years, shared it on Facebook. Here it is:
The Wind down the street
It made me get wet feet
I went home and got the comb
And combed my hair
So I would look fair
I went outdoors to play
With my kite, Up up it went
Us so high above the sky
I went over to play with Billy
And you know his is so silly,
Then we played hoptoad
In the middle of the road
We ran around the farm
And we hid in the barn
But you know that spring is fun
And is free for every one
Buddy Reynolds

Now you know why he took up acting and not poetry. Soon Buddy moved from Missaukee County, and he and his family ended up in Florida where the rest is history.

I was surprised to see so many RIP’s and condolences on social media for Reynolds. I thought he was only remembered by a few oldtimers and film buffs like myself. After all, he hadn’t acted in ten years and the younger generation, I presumed, wouldn’t even know him. I was wrong. His legacy thanks to the “Smoky and the Bandit” movies as well as “Deliverance” will live on for eternity.

NOTE: Wilcox owns six newspapers, one of which is The Press, which covers Missaukee County, where Reynolds went to grade school.

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