When people get older, they tend to look back on their lives and rue the chances they didn’t take or the people they lost. Even celebrities can have regrets, and Burt Reynolds was no exception. The famous actor, who sadly passed away in September of 2018, always regretted the loss of one very special lady in his life: Sally Field. But when Burt passed on, Sally revealed what she had been keeping inside for so many years.
A Legend of the Silver Screen
Burt Reynolds was born in 1936 and grew up in various locations around the United States, including Michigan and Missouri before his family settled in Florida. He played football in high school and earned a scholarship at Florida State University.
Actor Burt Reynolds on the set of the TV series ‘Hawk’ circa 1966. (Photo by Martin Mills/Getty Images)
He had a lot of potential and excelled at the game, even wanting to become a professional football player, but injuries curtailed his sporting career before it could even begin and he decided to switch to acting instead. He got his early roles on TV shows in the 1950s.
A Star is Born
It was in the 1960s that Burt Reynolds started to shine brighter than the rest. A starring role in the Western TV show Gunsmoke as blacksmith Quint Asper helped to make him a big star, and he followed that up with appearances in shows like Hawk and Dan August, before making his mark on cinema with a key role in 1972’s Deliverance. This thriller, directed by John Boorman, would go on to become a huge critical and commercial success, paving the way for more movie roles for Reynolds.
(Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
Burt was making waves, but what about Sally? Read on to find out…
Another Star Starts to Shine
Burt Reynolds’ Hollywood career was taking off, but he wasn’t the only one to be making a name for himself. At the very same time, actress Sally Field was also earning a reputation as one of the best performers of the day. Field, born in 1946, had gotten her start on TV, just like Reynolds.
Actress Sally Field attends a party in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
She appeared in shows like Gidget, The Flying Nun, and The Girl with Something Extra, and she started to become a big name when she received an Emmy Award for her appearance in Sybil.
Two Paths Cross in a Fateful Meeting
In 1977, as both Burt Reynolds and Sally Field were enjoying a lot of success, they were cast in a movie together. That film’s name? Smokey and the Bandit. It was an action comedy movie directed by Hal Needham and was also the start of an extraordinary relationship between its two lead actors. It was clear to see right from the start that Reynolds and Field had a lot of chemistry, both on and off the screen, helping the film become a smash success.
Actors Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in the film ‘Smokey and the Bandit.’ (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Read on to learn about one extraordinary line of dialogue from the film…
A Truthful Line of Dialogue
In Smokey and the Bandit, Burt Reynolds plays Bo Darville, the titular ‘Bandit,’ while Sally Field plays Carrie, nicknamed ‘Frog’ by Bandit due to her cute look and the way she ‘hops around.’ When the two meet for the first time, Carrie is wearing a wedding dress. Bandit responds to this by saying, “I don’t want to get married.”
Source: Getty Images
This would turn out to be an interesting reflection of real life as Field and Reynolds went on to date for many years without getting married.
Love at First Sight
For Reynolds and Field, love came easy. From the first moment they met, there was a special spark between them, and it didn’t take long for the first seeds of a relationship to be planted. The pair became a couple in 1977 and were one of the biggest celebrity romance stories of their time. Lots of fans of the movies and these two actors, in particular, loved to learn the latest gossip and stories, and many people believed that the two stars seemed to be made for each other.
Sally Field and Burt Reynolds during Los Angeles Television Critics Awards at Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
On the next page, an old passion comes back for Reynolds…
Reynolds Returns to his Football Roots
During the 1970s, Burt Reynolds’ career continued to reach new heights. He’d enjoyed a stellar rise up the ranks of Hollywood and was reaping the rewards, being handed a starring role in what would be one of his biggest hits: 1974’s sports drama, The Longest Yard.
Michael Conrad, Burt Reynolds and John Steadman in a scene from the film ‘The Longest Yard,’ 1974. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)
This film, directed by Robert Aldrich, allowed Reynolds to pick up a football once again. He played an ex-NFL star who put together a team of prisoners to play a game against the guards. The film was a big hit and featured several NFL players.
Smokey and the Bandit Return
With Smokey and the Bandit being such a success and the Reynolds/Field relationship so huge at the time, Hollywood executives knew exactly what to do. A Smokey and the Bandit sequel was announced and came out in 1980, with Hal Needham returning to the director’s chair and Reynolds and Field coming back together in their leading roles. The second film in the series saw Bandit and Frog separated but getting back together for a hilarious caper as they attempt to transport an elephant across the United States.
(Original Caption) Together Again. Burt Reynolds, who plays ‘The Bandit,’ and Sally Field share a scene in the new Universal Studio’s release Smokey and the Bandit III, which is to open in New York. The new movie is a sequel to Smokey and the Bandit in which the two also starred.
The next page shows another movie featuring the famous couple…
Another On-Screen Meeting for the Lovebirds
The two Smokey and the Bandit movies were just a couple of times movie-goers got to see Reynolds and Field share the screen. The pair also starred together in Hooper, released in 1978. It was another action comedy movie, also directed by Hal Needham.
Burt Reynolds standing on the side of flying helicopter in a scene from the film ‘Hooper,’ 1978. (Photo by Warner Brothers/Getty Images)
Reynolds played Sonny Hooper, the ‘greatest stuntman in Hollywood,’ while Field played his girlfriend, Gwen Doyle. The film was written as a way of honoring stuntmen and women and highlighting the dangers of their profession.
The Fourth Film for the Pair
Burt Reynolds and Sally Field appeared in four films together in total. The fourth was entitled The End. It was a dark comedy film that Burt Reynolds directed himself. Reynolds later revealed that he struck a deal with Warner Bros in which he agreed to appear in Hooper if they would allow him to direct The End. The executives worried that The End wouldn’t be a big hit, but it ended up making over $44 million at the box office on a $3 million budget.
American actors Pat O’Brien (1899 – 1983, left), Burt Reynolds, Kristy McNichol (center) and Myrna Loy (1905 – 1993), 1978. The four starred together in Reynolds’s black comedy ‘The End’. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Learn about Burt’s other loves on the next page…
A Modern Day Casanova
Burt Reynolds was a real ladies’ man. Field was just one of the women in his life. Many years before he even met his Smokey and the Bandit co-star, he’d already spent a couple of years married to English actress Judy Carne. Throughout his career, he also dated many other actresses including Loni Anderson, Farrah Fawcett, Dinah Shore, and Faye Dunaway.
Atlanta – Circa 1980: Actress and former wife to Actor Burt Reynolds (1963-1965) displays their wedding images in Atlanta, Georgia Circa 1980 (Photo By Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
His romances extended beyond the world of cinema too as he went out with sporting star Chris Evert, country music sensation Tammy Wynette, and world-famous beauty pageant winner Tawny Little.
Five Years of Happiness
The relationship between Burt Reynolds and Sally Field lasted five years in total, beginning in 1977 and ending in 1982. During those years, the pair appeared in a total of four films together and enjoyed some of the most successful years of their careers. Sadly, for one reason or another, all good things must come to an end, including the relationship between Burt and Sally. Many years later, however, Burt revealed regrets over letting Sally go. He said it was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made.
(Original Caption) New York: The ‘Flying Nun’ Grows Up. Actor Burt Reynolds escorts actress Sally Field — who looks like anything but the Flying Nun she portrayed on TV–into the Music Box Theater, April 28th, to attend an evening performance of Side by Side by Sondheim. Reynolds’ last romantic link (before Sally) was tennis superstar Chris Evert.
On the next page, it’s the end of an era…
Burt Reynolds Passes Away
On September 6 of 2018, the world awoke to the news that Burt Reynolds had passed away. He had suffered a heart attack at the Jupiter Medical Center in Florida. He was 82 years old at the time and left behind an extraordinary legacy.
LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 06: The Chinese Theatre in Hollywood honors Burt Reynolds on their marquee on Hollywood Blvd after the announcement of his death on September 06, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Burt’s ex-wife, Loni Anderson, was one of the first big names to share the news and reveal her sadness. Many other celebrities, including country icon Dolly Parton, shared messages of sorrow as they heard the news.
Arnie Pays His Respects
Along with Dolly Parton, another global icon shared his feelings of sadness at the passing of Burt Reynolds. Arnold Schwarzenegger, best-known for his starring roles in many different action movies of the 80s and 90s like The Terminator, The Running Man, Total Recall, and True Lies, paid his respects to Reynolds. In his statement, Arnie admitted that Reynolds had been one of his personal heroes and had tried to follow in his footsteps, first becoming a star athlete and then a world-famous actor.
(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Next, Reynolds reveals something special about Sally…
The One That Got Away
In a 2015 interview with Vanity Fair, Burt Reynolds made some big admissions. He revealed that Sally Field was the love of his life and that he always considered her to be ‘the one that got away.’ He added that their relationship had meant a lot to him and that their separation had a negative effect on him.
(Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
When we look at Reynolds’ career, it’s clear to see that he enjoyed his biggest period of success while he was with Sally and never quite reached those heights again.
He Missed Her So Much
In that same interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Burt Reynolds had even more personal revelations to share about Sally Field. He said that in the 40 years that had passed by since their separation, he’d missed her a lot. He added that when he was with Sally, he really thought he’d found his perfect match and hoped that they would be together forever. He admitted that he was responsible for the breakdown of the relationship and felt a lot of regret about it.
(Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images)
But when Burt passed on, Sally had something to say…
Sally Makes a Statement
When Burt Reynolds died in September of 2018, many of his former friends and lovers had lots of kind words to say about him, but everyone was waiting to see what one of his most iconic partners, Sally Field, would say.
Sally Fields is seen during an evening with Sally Fields as she discusses her latest book ‘In Pieces’ on October 22, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
The actress did release a statement to share her thoughts, revealing that she still remembered their relationship and could never forget the time they spent together. She added that Burt would be in her heart forever and ended her message with the words “Rest, Buddy”.
Burt Reynolds Had a Long List of Lovers
We’ve already seen that Burt Reynolds was a big hit with the ladies. He had a lot of relationships throughout his life, with his charm, wit, and good looks having a real effect on many of the women to cross his path. In the early 70s, he dated Dinah Shore, who was a major star in the 1940s. The pair had a large age difference, with around 20 years separating them, but got on very well and were together for five years. In the end, they broke up because they couldn’t have kids.
Entertainer Dinah Shore and actor Burt Reynolds arrive to the 46th Academy Awards at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles,California. (Photo by Michael Montfort/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Learn about another of Reynolds’ lovers on the next page…
His Second Wife, Loni Anderson
Reynolds dated many women but only married two of them. He’d been married to English actress Judy Carne in the 1960s but waited over two decades before tying the knot again.
Actress Loni Anderson and actor Burt Reynolds attend the 43rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on August 25, 1991 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
In 1988, he married actress Loni Anderson. Sadly, their marriage ended in difficulty and disgrace with a long, drawn-out divorce that actually left Reynolds in a terrible financial state. Things got so bad for the star that he was forced to file for bankruptcy. It took him years to recover from the costs of the separation.
Sally’s Career Kept Getting Better
When Sally Field and Burt Reynolds split up, Burt’s career seemed to take a bit of a nosedive. He never hit the same heights as he had in movies like Hooper and Smokey and the Bandit. Sally, however, had a very successful career even after the separation. She won an Oscar in 1980 and then won a second Academy Award in 1985. She also received roles in many popular movies as years went by like Lincoln and The Amazing Spider-Man, and has received many more awards and nominations.
Academy Awards. Los Angeles: Best actor F. Murry Abraham and best actress Sally Field pose with their Oscars 3/25. Abraham won for his role in Amadeus and Field for Places in the Heart.
On the next page, a final word on the special relationship between these two stars…
A Love Story for the Ages
Burt Reynolds had many love stories in his lifetime, but his relationship with Sally Field was surely one of the most special. The great actor stated that the separation hurt him and he spent the rest of his life wishing it had turned out differently.
(Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images)
Clearly, when we read Sally’s statement after Burt passed away, it’s easy to see that she felt something similar. She still thinks of Burt and will never forget him, but as the old saying goes, it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.