Sunday, March 26, 2023
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Burt Reynolds Among a Rare Breed of Fearless Hollywood Conservatives

‘ He took upon himself the most thankless task of the event: reading aloud the pledge of support that the hated Republican President, Ronald Reagan, had generously sent from Washington…’

burt reynolds photo
Burt Reynolds/PHOTO: Alan Light (CC) via Pixabay

(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) While it’s often speculated that celebrity passings come in clusters, those following along may have noted the relatively little fanfare that accompanied the surprise death of Burt Reynolds, 82, after a heart attack on Thursday.

It may be that the obit writers had longer to prepare content following the extended illnesses of Sen. John McCain and “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin.

Maybe it’s that Reynolds, despite a film career spanning 60 years, maintained a more checkered resume; while often a cult favorite in films like “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Deliverance” and “Boogie Nights,” he was more tabloid fodder than leading man in his latter years. However, he still maintained a busy working schedule, with his final movie, “Defining Moments,” set for release in April.

According to CBS, Reynolds also was in discussions about a forthcoming Quentin Tarantino project.

Then again, Reynolds’s reputation as a man’s man, what would now be classified as “toxic masculinity,” might also be to blame.

He rode the wave of Southern renaissance and, to some degree, 70s kitsch, that also produced the likes of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Nashville”–not to mention such musical gems as C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” and Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

Reynolds later expressed remorse for one act of 70s excess permanently etched into the collective conscious of any who have seen it: his nude photo shoot for Cosmopolitan lying on a bear-skin rug.

Yet, the mustachioed heartthrob continued to embrace his machismo through rocky romances with Sally Field and Loni Anderson in the 1980s and 90s.

His political life was, perhaps, as complicated as his love life, although he played the former closer to the vest.

A 1989 dispatch from the Orlando Sentinel says Reynolds skipped out on a weekend barbecue he had been invited to with Vice President Dan Quayle, sending his regrets that he was busy taping his “B.L. Stryker” television series. “In fact,” it continued, “The Palm Beach Post reports he hasn’t voted since 1980 and is a registered Democrat.”

But whether he was politically active or not, Reynolds at least harbored some conservative sympathies, as well as a heart of gold.

A 2009 tribute in Breitbart recalls that Reynolds was one of the few actors to agree to participate in an AIDS fundraiser for his friend Rock Hudson being organized by Elizabeth Taylor.

“Not only that, he took upon himself the most thankless task of the event: reading aloud the pledge of support that the hated Republican President, Ronald Reagan, had generously sent from Washington” said the article.

“Let it be noted for the record that, on September 19, 1985, actor Burt Reynolds stood up at Taylor’s event and read Reagan’s letter, while being roundly booed by a mass of angry activist attendees.”

Reynolds was a bit more reserved in supporting another friend of his, Donald Trump. He told the Western Journal in March 2016, “I don’t think there’s any question that Donald is going to be nominated. … You know, our current president has kind of messed things up the last four years. But I don’t know who I would vote for.”

Reynolds added that he worried about Trump’s blunt rhetoric leading to war. “I like him very much personally. I know him, and I like him. He’s always been nice and sweet and kind to me,” Reynolds said. “But he seems to be like a sheriff that’s quick on the draw.”

However, Reynolds strongly endorsed his “Deliverance” costar Jon Voight, a vocal conservative, in the same Western Journal piece.

“If any actor was going to run for office, it should be Jon Voight. I think he’s quite brilliant in terms of handling himself and he always knows what’s going on in politics.”

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