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One Of Our Acting Faves Grew Up Amongst Us


ne 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,” be-
fore he made it big on the
silver screen with the 1972
classic, “Deliverance.”
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 writ-
ten in a class at Merritt
Elementary. His teacher,
Jean Davis, who kept this
poem as a cherished pos-
session for so many years,
shared it on Facebook.
Here it is:
The W
ind down the
It made me get wet feet
I went home and got the
And combed my hair
So I would look fair
I went outdoors to play
With my kite, Up up it
Us so high above the
I went over to play with
And you know his is so
Then we played hop-
In the middle of the
We ran around the farm
And we hid in the barn
But you know that
spring is fun
And is free for every
Buddy Reynolds
Now you know why he
took up acting and not po-
etry. 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 con-
dolences 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.