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Larry King Live

Burt Reynolds Discusses His Career in Showbiz

Aired February 23, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: A show business survivor still going strong. Burt Reynolds, a profile, for the entire hour: next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Our guest for the full hour tonight is Burt Reynolds. We don't know the day this is airing, but we know the day we're taping. It's February 11th, Friday, February 11th, Burt Reynolds's birthday.

Happy Birthday, Burt!

BURT REYNOLDS, ACTOR: You know, it's -- thank you. It's one of those birthdays where it -- I have -- I have a very lovely lady, and she says, carry me up the stairs and make love to me. And now at my age I say, you can have one or the other.


KING: How old are you today, Burt?

REYNOLDS: Ah -- let's just put it this way. I -- I can get Social Security now.

KING: You're kidding?


KING: You're not 65?

REYNOLDS: Sixty-four, 64, yes.

KING: You've got good genes. You look pretty good.

REYNOLDS: Good -- thank you. Well, you met pop. You know, he's 94...

KING: Yes, your father, that's right.

REYNOLDS: Ninety-four.

KING: Yes, your father. That's amazing. What do you think does it? Is it part of the Reynolds' culture?

(LAUGHTER) No, really. I mean...

REYNOLDS: I think it's genes. Yes, I think it's genes, because it's certainly -- if abuse...


... were part of it...

KING: You wouldn't be here.

REYNOLDS: No, I'd be there dancing with (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


KING: Is it -- is it traumatic turning 60? Was it traumatic for you?

REYNOLDS: You know, I -- I remember a wonderful, wonderful actor who I know you love too, Brian Keith, said to me: "50 is a breeze; 60 is tough. But everything after that, they just hammer you and it just hammers you," you know. But I look at Bobby Bowden, right, who's 70 years young...

KING: Coach of Florida State...

REYNOLDS: Just won the national championship, and I think he just signed a five-year contract.

KING: Joe Paterno just signed and five-year contract...


KING: ... at 72.

REYNOLDS: Yes, but Joe...

KING: Good hope.

REYNOLDS: Joe has still bad socks and shoes. Don't you think that ensemble doesn't work? I don't know. It goes with with the Penn State uniforms...

KING: That's right.

REYNOLDS: ... and nobody cares...

KING: Nobody does.

REYNOLDS: ... because they say, I'll play linebacker for you with no number, no name...

KING: My stepson almost went there, almost went there. Anyway, that's another subject. I wanted him to go there, but that's another subject.


KING: Is it tough to get roles when an actor of fame is over 60?

REYNOLDS: Well, there's a whole younger generation out here who not only doesn't -- they think Gable is something on a house. You can't make any reference to, God forbid, William Powell or something like that. You have to talk about -- you know Brad's last picture, which I -- by the way, he is one of the best young actors around, I think. We were talking about him today. He's a fabulous actor. But you can't make any reference to anybody.

And in my generation, which was -- I came out here when people were still under contract and live television. "Playhouse Nine" and all...

KING: And then they referred to the old people and it was OK, right?

REYNOLDS: They worshipped them. They worshipped them. I mean, I spent my early years at the feet of Mitchum and Jim -- a lot of them stood at Mitchum's feet because you couldn't stand up and drink with him. And Jimmy Stewart, who was never, ever...

KING: Spencer Tracy and those guys.

REYNOLDS: Tracy -- Tracy was...

KING: So the young actor then...

REYNOLDS: ... worshipped.

KING: ... revered them?

REYNOLDS: Worshipped them.

KING: Why do you think that's not true now?

REYNOLDS: Well, I think it starts at the top. I think -- this is the only business that you can have your masters, your doctorates, your thing -- your -- and it doesn't mean anything. You have -- in Europe and in France and all those places, you are as good as your best work. In America you're as good as your last work. If the last one made $500 million, you're hotter than (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KING: And no one was hotter than Burt Reynolds?

REYNOLDS: For a minute...

KING: Not for a minute. I mean, three years in a row you were the No. 1 box office star?

REYNOLDS: Five. Five.

KING: See, I forget!

REYNOLDS: Buy who's counting? KING: Yes, five years in a row...


KING: ... No. 1 box office star.


KING: But one thing about you, it never went to your head.

REYNOLDS: It didn't go to my head?

KING: No. Everyone around you said you were regular. You always were regular with us, you were never difficult.

REYNOLDS: Well, there's -- it's about a hundred to one out here at that time not an SOB. But there's a lot of ones.

KING: Yes. How do you explain that?

REYNOLDS: Well, I think that there was -- there was a time when I used to get very, very disturbed about bad treatment to not me -- it was never me; it was always somebody, you know, way down on the chain. But I'd get very upset about it.

KING: And said so?

REYNOLDS: Yes. And I don't think I ever hit anybody, but didn't become a head of a studio.


KING: So you were known as trouble?

REYNOLDS: No, I wasn't trouble. I still to this day think that it's very hard for some people to realize that you can grow up and some of us it takes longer than others. And in reflecting on some of the times -- and it's impossible to be where I was at that pace. I was doing four pictures a year. I mean, I was just -- I was flying through life and trying to take a slice of everything. And -- and not make some enemies, you know?

But as you -- as you get older, you look back at it -- if you're still alive. If you can live through that, you are -- you are...

KING: A better person?

REYNOLDS: Oh, yes. Absolutely, without a doubt.

KING: The life and times of Burt Reynolds on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll go back to the start of it all right after this.


REYNOLDS: We're in big trouble, you know that? I've got a bunch of clowns, I don't even know if they played high school football, much less college football, and we're playing a semipro team. Plus the fact I haven't picked up one of those things in about seven years.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, what are you worried about? Once you've got it, you've got it. Throw one at that tire over there. It's just like making love. Once you've done it, you never forget how.

See what I mean?



KING: We're back with Burt Reynolds. Why did you -- what made you -- you were a football star at Florida State, right? Good ballplayer. Got hurt.

REYNOLDS: Got hurt, yes.

KING: Why movies?

REYNOLDS: Well, it was -- if you get hurt -- and we're talking about your nephew, right? If you got hurt...

KING: Stepson and brother-in-law, both quarterbacks.

REYNOLDS: Well, quarterbacks especially. If you get hurt, you go -- what? -- where can I go on the campus that's the farthest away from the locker room? And you know where it is? The drama department. And there are gorgeous girls there, and they're just thrilled, thrilled to see somebody, you know, come walking in there.

KING: And that's really why you did it?

REYNOLDS: Yes, I had -- there were girls and they were pretty, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. And also, I had one of those teachers that changed my life that really didn't think of me as a jock, who thought that maybe I could act.

KING: Yes. When did you know you were good?

REYNOLDS: I truthfully didn't think I was good long after I was working.

KING: Really? You mean in those years you were making it you didn't...

REYNOLDS: No, not in those, but in the earlier -- because I went under contract to Universal in 1958 and was fired in 1959.

KING: With Clint Eastwood.

REYNOLDS: Well, Eastwood was -- I always tell the story that we were fired the same day, but we weren't. We were fired the same year. And he was fired because his Adam's apple stuck out too far. He talked too slow. And he had a chipped tooth and he wouldn't get it fixed. And I said, "Why are you firing me?" And they said, "You can't act." And I thought...

KING: Was that a blow, Burt?

REYNOLDS: No. I said -- no, I said to Clint, you know, you are really screwed, because I can learn how to act. You can't get rid of that Adam's apple.


And it's held him back. It's held him back.

KING: He never made it.

REYNOLDS: You know, the next time that either one of us -- him much earlier than me -- worked at Universal, he got a million dollars. And then the first time I worked there -- and it was quite a while afterwards...

KING: What made it? Was it the TV series that made it for you? How did we get to know Burt Reynolds?

REYNOLDS: Like this.

KING: Dan August?

REYNOLDS: I was doing Dan August.

KING: Detective series.

REYNOLDS: Yes, I did a lot of detective stories and I did a lot of Indians. And Indians don't...

KING: You played Indians?

REYNOLDS: I played Indians, and you never get a funny line as an Indian.


I just -- when is the last time you saw an Indian get a funny line? Take your shirt off and they shoot you.


And then I did Dan August and I had did a lot of lines like "Book them." And I -- but Merv, I did Merv, and Merv, I had such fun. And I think I was probably the first actor at that time who said, the show sucks, you know? And then -- because everybody always -- you know, their voice gets a little deeper and they go: "I tell you, I love the tropics. I love working there. I love the runs. I loved everything about it. I loved being sick. It was just great. And I loved the disease that I had. Go there." You know?

I came on and said: I hate doing this show. I hate working on this show, and all of this. And so he booked me five nights in a row. And at the end of the fifth night, Carson called. And in those days, Johnny could in New York, when you did that show, if you came on and you did more than one slug, as we say in the biz, the next day the phone was ringing. And I came out, and they said, he never talks to the guest in a commercial. I said, "That's OK, I'll talk to Ed."

So I came out and I said the first slug, which is all I was supposed to do, and then I immediately turned to Ed, because I figured the next guest. And he said, "Hey, want a drink?" I said: "Don't talk to me. I'm sorry. I don't talk to anybody during the commercials."


And he liked that. And the relationship became kind of I was Puck's (ph) bad boy with him. And I had such a great time.

KING: And that led to offers?

REYNOLDS: That led to -- it actually led to "Deliverance."

KING: No kidding.

REYNOLDS: Yes. John Boorman called me -- I was in New York -- and he said, I want you -- "Have you read `Deliverance'?" Well, being a Southern boy, I said, "Of course I've read `Deliverance.'"

KING: James Dickey's novel.

REYNOLDS: James Dickey, great novel. And I said, "But I won't play the backwards goon." I mean, you've got a mighty pretty mouth. So I said, "I won't play that part."

And so he said, "I want you to think about Lewis." I said, "Well, what have you seen of my work? I mean, did you see me on `Dan August' or was it `Hawk'?"

And he said: "I saw you on `The Tonight Show,' and I need a guy who's in control of three other guys. And you were in control of three people on that show."

He said, "Could you do a Southern accent?" Now I had spent 12 years working my buns off to get rid of those things.

KING: Because you had one.

REYNOLDS: Oh, I had a -- I had a -- me and Rip Torn talk. Rip Torn and I used to go up to 128th Street on the subway and sit there and go (UNINTELLIGIBLE) except it sounded like (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I think I got it. I think I sound pretty good now, just Noel Coward, buddy!


KING: Then "Deliverance" of course made you, right? REYNOLDS: "Deliverance" changed -- totally changed my life. And I met a person, a woman, a love, friend that -- who is crazy for you, and I know you were -- Dinah.

KING: You met her during the filming of that? Or...

REYNOLDS: Right after that. And she was such an inspiration in terms of making me believe that this sheriff's son could understand that -- about art and maybe do some art and maybe understood a little bit about me, introduced me to Chet Baker and jazz and Chagall.

KING: We'll talk about Dinah in a minute. Our guest is Burt Reynolds. Lots of time left. Don't go away.


DINAH SHORE, ACTRESS: Shouldn't I be starting my sauce now? I don't have the -- the duck sauce in the closet.

REYNOLDS: Hello, Dinah.







KING: We're back with Burt Reynolds. The thing with Dinah Shore, was it -- was that -- you know, people would read about the age difference. Was that love from the start? Was that romance?


KING: It was?

REYNOLDS: But I swear to you, I never -- and I don't right now, if I was under oath. I never knew her age, never cared about that. It never entered my mind. She was just this extraordinary person. And you know, you'd say, "Well, what about Hitler?" And she'd say, you know, "very good house painter."

I mean, she had nothing unkind to say about anybody. I mean, you -- and I'm sure there were rough, rough times for her. I never heard about them. All I heard about was -- there was an interesting story. You may know this story. But it's a great story about when she kissed Nat King Cole on "The Show of Shows."

KING: Never been done.

REYNOLDS: Never been done. KING: Black and white kissing on television.

REYNOLDS: African-American never white person kissing: 28 affiliate stations in the South dropped her show. And they said, well, what are you going to do? And she said: "Well, next week I'll just (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And the following week I'll kiss Sidney Poitier." And then the following week -- and she did! And you know what? They all came back. That was her way of doing it. And it was right for her and it worked.

KING: Why didn't you get married?

REYNOLDS: I wanted to marry her; I really did. That was her.

KING: And she didn't want to?

REYNOLDS: No, I think she kind of thought that, and rightly so, that I hadn't, you know, done all the crazy things that I was about to do in my life.

KING: Sowed all of your oats?

REYNOLDS: Yes, I suppose that's the saying we would say. I don't know how they would express that in -- yes, I hadn't -- I hadn't sowed them. I hadn't even found them. But I did.

KING: Do you think she was right?

REYNOLDS: I suppose. I suppose she was.

KING: Were you close at the end of her life?

REYNOLDS: Yes, very, very.

KING: Did you know she was ill?

REYNOLDS: Yes, yes. She didn't -- not because she said anything, but she asked me to come over, and when I saw her, I knew something was very wrong. Never talked about it, never discussed it. We just talked about a million laughs that we had.

KING: How did you find out she died?

REYNOLDS: I think I got a phone call -- I know I got a phone call from someone, and I just -- it just put me right on my knees, still does. I mean, I think of her all the time, in terms of truly a great friend. I could talk to her about anything. She either -- if she hadn't been there, she certainly knew someone who had.

KING: And an underrated sing or.


KING: She had great pipes. Never got that kind of credit for it. REYNOLDS: I sang a song once, the neighbors -- awful -- they showed it on a plane, and 12 people jumped out of the plane. Sang "At Long Last," and of course you don't -- if you can't sing, you shouldn't sing a hymn, and I didn't realized she didn't introduced -- she never said to me -- she said, you sound good. And I didn't, you know, God.

KING: She never said, "I introduced this."

REYNOLDS: No, never.

KING: How do you -- when you looked at all the things in your life -- let's -- you and women...

REYNOLDS: That's fine?


KING: No, we'll get to it. Loni Anderson was here a couple of weeks ago. Did you see her?

REYNOLDS: As a matter of fact, I talked to her that day.

KING: And you're very friendly now?

REYNOLDS: Yes, of course.

KING: It was very hard for a while, charges back and forth?

REYNOLDS: Well, it wasn't charges back and forth. It was newspapers back and forth. You know, it was very public -- we were under a microscope, and, you know, it's very, very hard when you're doing something like that. But I didn't throw anybody off a balcony, and I didn't do anything really awful other than get a divorce. But you'd think that it was absolutely horrible.

KING: How did you live through that, when you would see things in tabloids, let's say that you knew weren't true and she'd say the same thing, seemed -- how did you deal with it?

REYNOLDS: It was very, very tough. The thing that sustains you in that, as you know, are people that you love that usually can make you laugh. And it will -- I remember -- I am going to tell another Bobby Bowden story, but it's true. He had something happen this year to his star receiver, who was a Heisman Trophy candidate, who I think would have probably won, and the young man came in and said, Coach Bowden, will they ever, ever forget this? And he said, 15, 20 years, son, they won't remember.


KING: We'll be back with more of Burt Reynolds.

Don't go away.


LONI ANDERSON: Burt had a drug problem, and he's admitted to that. He's talked about that himself. I think it changes you into another person, and you know...

KING: His drug problem was prescription.

ANDERSON: Prescription -- mostly painkillers that he started on.

KING: Valium and...

ANDERSON: Well, he started on those painkillers because of his injuries, his stunts, and it got out of hand, and he has since handled it. He's a different person.


KING: The victim when there are things like battering parents is the boy, right? He's the real victim. You're adults. How's he come out of this? How's he doing?

REYNOLDS: Extraordinary.

KING: How old is she now?

REYNOLDS: He's 11, and he's just amazing. But you know, you -- I swore I wouldn't do all of those things that fathers do.

KING: Like?

REYNOLDS: Like -- he's so smart. I mean, I know kids are smart, but this kid really -- and what -- Adam, his hand-eye coordination, but when it's -- I always looked at babies like they look like oatmeal. They all look the same to me. I never got it. People would say, hold my baby, and first of all, you don't know how to hold them, and then you look at your baby, and you go, now that is a baby, oh God, up and around and over and (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Change it? Sure, I'll change it. Let me handle it. Change here, and he -- if he doesn't know anything else, this is the most important thing: He knows I love him more than life. So he's going to be all right.

KING: And you get to spend a lot of time with him?

REYNOLDS: Every minute I can. I mean, he's -- we hang out, as he says.

KING: What's life like now, before we go over some of the great people you worked with, your likes and dislikes? Burt Reynolds, you still live in Florida?

REYNOLDS: I still live in Florida, and I like coming out here because people are glad to see you, because they haven't seen you in a while, and you haven't been at every party that week, and also you have per diem. Per diem is, you know, an actor's favorite.

KING: Are you working?

REYNOLDS: I just finished a film with Richard Dreyfuss, and I do think it's good.

KING: You like being now a terrific character actor? Like in "Midnight Alaska," was one of the great movies, unheralded movies of all time I think, the brilliant hockey movie you play the ranges in.-

REYNOLDS: Yes, I do. I do.

KING: Do you like being cast that way, sort of like fifth star?

REYNOLDS: Well, the pressure, of course, if the movie is not a gigantic success, is it's -- and also you're -- it's not true that young actors don't -- they generally say -- this is true -- I have now worked with stuntmen who say, you know, you fought my grandfather.


REYNOLDS: I know I did. But these young actors like in "Mystery Alaska" and "Boogie Nights," they were extraordinary young actors. The way they sort of turned you -- and I am looking for Jimmy Stewart and they're looking at me...

KING: Nice.

REYNOLDS: That's the greatest reward we get, Larry, for getting old.

KING: I said "midnight Alaska." It's "Mystery Alaska." The thing with you and stuntmen. why? Why did you -- you like them. You made one a director. You promoted them.

REYNOLDS: It's the most honest part of our business. They are the Lafayette -- they come in and, sort of, you know, and say, get out of the way, poof, and they fall off the building, and everybody goes -- and they give them a thousand dollars and they leave, and I find that so honest. I also find that it's also quite extraordinary that every single one of them does it too long and is hurting everywhere, and they still do it. I mean, they...

KING: Are they underappreciated?

REYNOLDS: Totally. In fact, now we've gotten certain actors who have to have a double open the car door for them, have -- you know, they shoot these guys at angles and things and then they have the computer-generated thing. You don't have to climb a mountain, you just -- you get on this table, and they shoot this, and the thing and -- you never leave the studio. When I was doing it, if a car ran over me, it ran over me. And I took great pride in the fact that the stunt guys liked me, looked up to me, and it was a jock thing. I know that.

KING: You did a lot of your own stunts?

REYNOLDS: I did them all in the beginning, all of them. KING: How did insurance work? Didn't the movie say you can't do...


REYNOLDS: I wasn't, in fact, told --- and then when I got valuable enough, I became part of, like "Hooper," I became part of the character. I was doing Hal Needham, who was the highest paid stuntman in the world, and he had the highest threshold of pain of any man I've ever known. One time he said to me -- I said, my back is broken. I said, Hal, your back is broken, and he almost (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and he almost -- so I took him to one of these a little, funny little hospital in Santa Monica, and there was a guy there who was about 21 or something, who had a nice little nurse, very attractive, named Nancy. He said, I think my back is broken. He please, sir, go in there, put on that gown, and take the picture. And you know, Cary Grant would look great in that gown. Perfect, take the picture, he comes back, he says, what, your back is broken. I told you my back is broken. He said, lean up -- I'm sorry, we're going to have to drain that lung. Well, He brought a long needle out. Well, I was interested from a directorial point of view as to whether he would go ow or a little sweat would pop when the needle went in. So I was looking him right in his face. And he said, Nancy, would you grab him by the legs because he might faint. And said, just get on with it. And just before they jabbed him, he went by the way, Nancy, you're very, very attractive, and went, wham, with this needle, and brown fluid came out, and I looked at Hal and nothing came to his face, but he sh*t all over Nancy.


KING: We'll be back with more of Burt Reynolds right after this.


REYNOLDS: Geronimo!

Another world record for your books there, buddy.


REYNOLDS: How about a can of Coors?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You can jump off my mattress anytime.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: That was terrific.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Hooper, it was nice. And you're through for the day.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I bet that air bag didn't -- I bet it didn't look that...

REYNOLDS: Not causing any commotion, I want to go see the doctor.



KING: He won an Emmy for "Evening Shade," a great program for four years. Movie roles included "Boogie Nights, "Strip Tease," "The Cannonball Run," "Smokey and the Bandit," "Longest Yard," "Deliverance," was Oscar nominated, Globe award nominated, worked with Demi Moore in "Strip Tease," had a romance with Sally Field. That was after "Smokey and the Bandit," right?

REYNOLDS: It was during.

KING: During.

Quite a life. Worked with Gleason.

REYNOLDS: The best. He didn't disappoint.

KING: Jackie...

REYNOLDS: He didn't disappoint. He used to have a -- remember Mal (ph)? Mal worked for him. And he would say, Mal, hamburger. And that meant a glass of vodka. It was about 9:00 when he started.

KING: In the morning?

REYNOLDS: In the morning. And I finally said to him, Mr. Gleason, why do you say hamburger? He said, I don't want the crew to know I am drinking.


KING: Did you -- by the way, did you think "Smoky and the Bandit" would be the hit it was?

REYNOLDS: Of course not.

KING: That was one of the silliest...

REYNOLDS: Every day we met, I swear to God, we met -- I'd say what are you going to say? He'd say, I don't know, I am going to -- and Jackie said, I am going to play this like your old man. My father never said "son of a" he always said, "sombit," which Jackie said, which became part of the Southern lexicon. But he also said let me -- I can't be in the car -- he's so smart -- I can't be in the car alone. I don't care what you -- give me a guy who can't talk. Give me a son who is an idiot. Just give me a guy, sit the thing -- got linebacker from the Rams, Mike Henry, a wonderful guy.

KING: And, Jackie was a genius, a great friend and a true genius.

REYNOLDS: True genius.

KING: Who is the nicest person you ever worked with?

REYNOLDS: Ricardo Montalban I think.

KING: Really?

REYNOLDS: Yes, I truly -- I mean, he is still -- he always made me feel like my back was broken.


KING: Why do you like him so much?

REYNOLDS: He's a gentleman. He's classy. I envy his marriage, his way with his children, his love of God. I respect it. James Stewart was my idol and a great friend. I used to get messages. He would say -- click, and I would phone back in and Gloria answers. Yes? I said, I think Jimmy called me.

KING: Did you ever work with him?

REYNOLDS: I worked with him -- a lot of people didn't know this. He did a television series, and as did Fonda. Fonda did one called "The Deputy." Jim Stewart did one called "Mr. Mayor," and they were both canceled in one year, two greatest actors. Stuart I had worked with -- and I'd finished his closeup, and they were coming around for me, and they said sun's going, we'll have to wait until the morning, and we were in Oxnard. He was finished. I got up at, what, 4:00 a.m., and got on the thing went out, and there and there was Mr. Stuart, off camera, all the makeup, everything.

KING: Just to play...

REYNOLDS: I said, "What are you doing here, Mr. Stuart?" He said -- I -- I -- I'm here for you." I said "How do I thank you?" He said "Pass it on."

KING: Anybody you really didn't like?

REYNOLDS: Yes, there were a lot of people I didn't like. But you know...

KING: Is it hard to work with someone you don't like? Let's say a fellow actor. You don't have to tell me -- let's say you're working with an actor. You don't like him at all. He don't like you. You've got to do scenes with him, maybe buddy scenes.

REYNOLDS: Yes, I used to get sick, I used to get kind of physically ill, because having come from the other school where you just snatch them up and say, let's go around back and talk, you can't do that anymore, and so you have to somehow get through it. And I don't know why, the camera sometimes doesn't pick it up. I always felt that the camera could see inside you and say, well, look, and I think it can in this medium. I think you know when somebody is...

KING: Doesn't like someone.

REYNOLDS: Yes. But not on film. I think film is magic in that sense.

KING: And you once told me -- I'll bring this up to you -- you would go to the camera every day, and look at did camera and say, I remember years ago you told me this: "Love me today." We'll ask about that in a minute.

Burt Reynolds is the guest. I'm Larry King. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Where are you, you son of a bitch!?

REYNOLDS: I am right down the hill, sheriff, 6'8", in a cowboy outfit. I got a little pygmy standing next to me dressed just like me. You can't miss me.


REYNOLDS: Wait a minute.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Scratch that. Hold it.

REYNOLDS: I can't lie to you, sheriff. You're too good a man. Look over your left shoulder.

We're on our way to Boston to get some clam chowder. Bye-bye.




KING: In an interview many moons ago for my early radio -- I would guess this is 20 years ago, but Burt Reynolds said something he I never forgot. He said, "Every day when I'm on a movie set and before we shoot, I go over to the cameras and I look at them and I stare at them and I tell them to love me.

REYNOLDS: I'll tell you who told me that. And you'd think it would be not this person, never you would guess this person. The first job I ever had on film was a lead, which is another story, but anyway it was Lee Marvin. And I was...

KING: Lee Marvin!

REYNOLDS: Lee Marvin. And I came -- and the call was 7:00 for 7:30, right? Well, I thought it was a multiple choice. I said, oh, I'll just take 7:30. That's a lot better to me.


So I showed up at 7:30, and the assistant director came out and he was on me like -- his name was Carter DeHaven. Very famous.

KING: Oh, yes. REYNOLDS: He was all over me. And about halfway through his speech, I grabbed him and I said: "Hold it. I haven't decided whether I'm going to be an actor. See, all of those other guys you can do that to, but me, I'll kill you."

And Lee was walking by, and Lee went, "Come here, kid." "Come here, kid."

And I said: "I'm sorry, Mr. Marvin. I think it's just that I'm scared." And he said, "Me too." He said: "Let me tell you what to do. Go up to the camera. Tell the camera you love it. I do it every morning." I said, "You do?"

Now this guy is a Marine.


REYNOLDS: I said, "You do?" He said: "Yes, it helps me get through the day. If it likes you, everybody likes you."

KING: And it liked you, didn't it?

REYNOLDS: Yes, it did.

KING: That was -- that you had nothing to do with, right? The camera just...

REYNOLDS: You don't have anything. That's not -- that -- God gives you that.

KING: Did you ever turn down anything you regretted?

REYNOLDS: Oh, woof, yes.

KING: Like?

REYNOLDS: If I say it, Larry, my eye IQ drops to about two.

KING: Yes, but you're honest. What did your turn down, Burt?

REYNOLDS: "Terms of Endearment."

KING: "Terms of Endearment." The Jack Nicholson part?


KING: Yes. What didn't you like about it?

REYNOLDS: I absolutely loved it. I loved it with a passion. Jim Brooks had written "Starting Over." I -- he had a lot of me in the part, but I had promised a friend that I would do another picture. And I took the other picture, which was "Cannonball Run."


KING: So you did "Cannonball Run." But that's Burt Reynolds. You promised a friend...


KING: But "Cannonball Run" didn't do badly, by the way.

REYNOLDS: They don't give -- it made a lot of money. But there's no awards in Hollywood for being an idiot.

KING: On that note, we'll be right back with Burt Reynolds. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Why are you all shiny?

REYNOLDS: It's Vaseline.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh. Oh! It's Vaseline.

REYNOLDS: You've never covered yourself with Vaseline?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: No, no, not unless I have third-degree burns. No.

REYNOLDS: You don't know what you're missing. I've got it all over. It's down in my boots. I can feel it squishing between my toes.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: All right. OK. Davey, Davey, Davey! The Young Christians are waiting.


KING: Time goes so fast. A couple of areas, other areas we have to cover. Those rumors -- you were on this show during the height of the AIDS rumors. Burt Reynolds has AIDS. I never even heard that you were involved in such a problem.


KING: What -- that was because...

REYNOLDS: ... it's nothing to smile over.

KING: How did that happen?

REYNOLDS: It happened because I had -- I had done a stunt in a picture that -- where -- a not too bright guy -- he wasn't a stuntman, but he was -- he was playing a part. And he said: "I can do this. Just pick up a chair and hit me." And he picked up the wrong one. He didn't pick up the balsa wood chair. He picked the...

KING: Wooden...

REYNOLDS: ... iron -- a wooden chair. And it hit me right here on the temporal mandible (ph) -- this cracked like an eggshell. And it ruined I think probably what could have been a good movie, because I just got thinner because I couldn't eat and I couldn't talk very well. I couldn't get my jaw open. My bite got totally lopsided. And I suffered for it.

And at the time it was when they were trying desperately to segregate the AIDS people, because they thought if they sneezed, you'd get a (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And if ever in the world I felt like I could say I know what it's like to be put into true prejudice, that was the time.

KING: People wouldn't touch you?

REYNOLDS: Wouldn't touch you. Wouldn't...

KING: I remember you told me your makeup man wouldn't put makeup on you.

REYNOLDS: Refused, refused to put makeup on me. I went to a dentist. He said: "I'm sorry. I can't touch you."

It was amazing. And the fact that all I had to do was go on Carson's show and have a blood test and they would have said it's not true -- it wouldn't have mattered, because it was too good. It was -- it was a rather famous heterosexual, you know? It was -- Charlie Bronson wasn't losing weight. It was me. I weighed 120.

KING: And you also had a drug dependency on painkillers, right?

REYNOLDS: Well, soon -- when I got it, I found that the only thing that would relax my jaw -- it was not pain pills, because it wasn't a painkiller. It wasn't painkillers. It was sleeping pills. I -- somebody said, here, Halcyon.

KING: Ah. I took it for a year after my heart surgery. You get addicted but you sleep.



REYNOLDS: Oh, you sleep. Oh, you sleep. And well, you know, what I did, because it was the first time my jaw wasn't in pain, I took four sleeping pills and then went out. I said, let's go!

I used to go out after having six or seven, and these were when they had the tens or the 20s.

KING: The blue -- how -- how could you go out?

REYNOLDS: Well, I didn't say I was a lot of fun.


But I went out. I mean, I just wasn't in pain.

KING: If they had lost weight, why didn't they think cancer? Why did they think AIDS?

REYNOLDS: Because it was...

KING: Prevalence?

REYNOLDS: Because AIDS was too good a story.

KING: Why didn't that drive you nuts?

REYNOLDS: It did. It drove me crazy. And I stored up a lot of stuff that had to be worked out later in other ways that I found to do it, working out and...

KING: But you never disproved it. You could have gone on this show...

REYNOLDS: I disproved it because...

KING: ... taken a blood test. The doctor comes in and says, he doesn't have it.

REYNOLDS: Of course. I -- thousand -- as a matter of fact, the next movie that I did, which was about two years before I could get a job, you know how they -- you know, in the movie business, when you get an insurance test, the doctor drives by the house, cough!


REYNOLDS: A guy came to my house, and I took enough blood to, you know, for an entire nation. I mean, he just kept taking blood and taking blood. He couldn't -- maybe you should try the other arm. Maybe it's in that one. The feet, the ankles, the thing, the head, the neck -- and the people that stayed with me -- it was very unexpected: Carson, Eastwood, of course, Dinah.

KING: Believed you without a blood test?

REYNOLDS: Well, believed me -- not only believed me, but got in fights. I mean, we walked out of parties.

KING: And what did -- so what if you had it? So what?

REYNOLDS: Of course. Of course. I mean, that is exactly right. I mean, I -- Richard Brooks -- there wasn't a stronger, more...

KING: Director?

REYNOLDS: ... yes, Rougher, tougher ex-Marine, who is a great director. Never worked with Rock Hudson, didn't know Rock Hudson, went to his house every single day after he found out he was sick, and Rock Hudson used to say, why are you here? And he'd say, because my friend, Rock Hudson to me means movies, and that's the business I am in, and I am here to comfort you. Nobody came to my house and said that. Richard Brooks came and told me that story.

But you know, you're right, so what. I mean, I remember hugging a very famous director who died of AIDS, and I remember going into his room and hugging him and he cried. He started to sob, and he said, you're the only one who hugs me. I said "Well, I have been there."

KING: Our remaining moments with Burt Reynolds on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.


REYNOLDS: You did nice job, got a nice house, nice wife, nice kid.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You make that sound rather sh*tty, Lewis.

REYNOLDS: Why do you go on these trips with me, Andy?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I like I my life, Lewis.

REYNOLDS: Yes, but why do you go on these trips with me?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You know, sometimes I wonder about that.



KING: You mentioned earlier about a lady. Who's the lady many your life? Who's this?

REYNOLDS: That's my Pam.

KING: Well, say Pam. I know Pam.

REYNOLDS: Of course you do.

KING: She has been your lady for a long time.

REYNOLDS: A long time, yes. She keeps saying to me...

KING: Going to get married?

REYNOLDS: No, Larry, I just had a baby, you know, and I said, yes, but I'm -- he's very happy about it, sweetheart. But you see, I'll be on a walker when Clinton's in high school, and I want to see him through college, you know, and I'm not good at that. I mean, I am good at a lot. I am great at being a friend. I think I am a pretty good actor, but I am a lousy husband. I don't know how to...

KING: But if you love her, you can change.

REYNOLDS: Yes? Can it?

KING: Yes.

REYNOLDS: Thank you, father.

KING: You want to get married? REYNOLDS: Do you do marriages?

KING: No, I can't. I wanted to be a rabbi.

REYNOLDS: Because I know you're a notary public.

KING: What about your career? Is there anything now that you want to do you haven't done?

REYNOLDS: Oh, yes.

KING: Like? "Terms of Endearment II." No, I'm only kidding.

REYNOLDS: No, I'd like to play one of those parts that Tracy played at the end of his career, you know?

KING: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"

REYNOLDS: Yes, one of those wonderful, wonderful...

KING: Aging editor of a newspaper?

REYNOLDS: Aging -- that was the nice part about "Mystery Alaska," was that -- you were very kind about what you said. But I got to play for the first time actually in 44 years a man who was college educated, a judge.

KING: Yes.

REYNOLDS: Because, you know, they think of me behind a car, or under the car or driving the car, but not a judge, and it was wonderful.

KING: Now a new Disney movie you've got coming it's called "The Crew." You play an aging gangster? One last heist?

REYNOLDS: Yes. Yes. Well, you know Jimmy "Blue Eyes," right?

KING: I know him. I know Jimmy Blue Eyes.

REYNOLDS: I know you do. Well, I just saw him. We were down in Miami...

KING: Is he 90?



REYNOLDS: He came in, you'd have thought that Clark Gable came in -- I mean, the place...

KING: The brightest blue eyes you ever saw.

REYNOLDS: Oh, my Lord. And people were going like this, and Richard Dreyfuss said, you know, I played the Jewish -- he said, "Get away," and he gave me a hug, such a hug, because see, you know and I know that wiseguys and policemen, when they get older, like my father and him, are friends. My father's an old policeman.

KING: And you're going to direct a movie, too.

REYNOLDS: I just directed a movie.

KING: "The Last Producer."

REYNOLDS: "The Last Producer," yes.

KING: When does that come out?

REYNOLDS: I don't know. I don't know when these things are coming out. You know, there's a -- in the old days you did, but now they don't know. They have to test it. We have the summer, the winter, the thing...

KING: I consider it an honor calling you a friend.

REYNOLDS: Well, I already called you one. I...

KING: You're a great man.

REYNOLDS: Thank you.

KING: Burt Reynolds. Hope you enjoyed this hour. I did. Thanks for joining us on LARRY KING LIVE. Again, happy birthday.

REYNOLDS: Thank you.

KING: Good night.



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