82ºF

Bobby Bowden, Loni Anderson share memories of Burt Reynolds

About 80 of late actor's friends, relatives gather in South Florida

Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson, pictured here in 1987, had a highly publicized and bitter divorce.
Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson, pictured here in 1987, had a highly publicized and bitter divorce. (AP Photo/Bob Galbraith)

NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. – About 80 friends and relatives of Burt Reynolds shared memories of the late actor at a private memorial service in South Florida.

Reynolds' ex-wife, Loni Anderson, and their son, Quinton Reynolds, were among the speakers at Thursday's service at Quattlebaum Funeral Home in North Palm Beach, family spokeswoman Cheryl Kagan told The Associated Press.

The "Smokey and the Bandit" star died Sept. 6 at Jupiter Medical Center. He was 82.

Bobby Bowden, former longtime football coach at Florida State University, where Reynolds was a player, opened the service with a prayer and went on to tell stories from throughout the actor's life.

Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden poses for a photograph, flanked by actors Ricardo Montalban (left) and Burt Reynolds (right), sometime during the 1980s. Reynolds played football at Florida State.
Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden poses for a photograph, flanked by actors Ricardo Montalban (left) and Burt Reynolds (right), sometime during the 1980s. Reynolds played football at Florida State.

Anderson, who had a famously difficult divorce from Reynolds, shared happier moments from their 12 years together, calling their adopted son Quinton their "greatest collaboration."

Once Hollywood's No. 1 box-office draw, Reynolds spent five years (1978 to 1982) attracting the world's audiences to movie theaters. He used his star power to stay close to home, routinely making movies south of the Mason-Dixon Line and attracting other A-list celebrities to South Florida during the height of his success.

Full Screen
1 / 27

Before he was an actor, Burt Reynolds was a running back for the Florida State University football team.

He opened the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre in Jupiter in 1979 and recruited his famous friends -- Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Charles Durning and Carol Burnett among them -- to perform there.

Reynolds ran the theater until 1989, but it remained in operation until financial problems forced its closure in 1996. Purchased by the nonprofit Palm Beach Playhouse Inc., it reopened as the Maltz Jupiter Theatre in 2004.

Jupiter was also the site of the now-shuttered Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum, which closed in 2012 to make way for the Harbourside Place development. Not far from where the museum once stood is Burt Reynolds Park.

Reynolds also owned a 160-acre ranch in nearby Jupiter Farms, where he married Anderson in 1988. The ranch also served as a location in his short-lived ABC series, "B.L. Stryker."

Other guests at Thursday's service included Lee Corso, the ESPN football analyst who was a teammate and roommate of Reynolds in college, and former Boston College and NFL quarterback Doug Flutie.

The memorial service was held just one day after a private celebration of Reynolds' life at Family Church in West Palm Beach. Field, who co-starred in "Smokey and the Bandit" and dated the actor for several years, attended.

A death certificate showed Reynolds was cremated in Fort Lauderdale.