Burt Reynolds was deprived of affection by his disciplinarian dad: 'I would have killed for a hug from my father'
Burt, at the peak of his career, had everything everything he could have asked for, barring one thing of utmost significane to him — his father's affection.
One of the biggest movie stars in the history of cinema, Burt Reynolds' personal life remained an enigma for many before the 2000s. It was only after a 2012 interview with Piers Morgan, just a few years before his death, that he revealed the most vulnerable and intimate moments of his life, and his tumultuous relationship with his father played a pivotal part in formulating those memories.
Burt, who was the biggest Hollywood star at the box office for five consecutive years, from 1978 to 1982, had everything he could ask for: he was earning nearly $1 million per week, was dating some of the most beautiful women in the world, and was living an extravagant life. In the actor's own words, he "had a hell of a good time." However, despite all the luxuries, he was always deprived of the one thing of utmost significance to him — his father's affection.
"I would have killed for a hug from my father," Burt revealed in the interview with Morgan.
The actor's father, Burton Milo Reynolds, was a decorated World War II veteran who became the Chief of Police of Riviera Beach, Florida. Reynolds was known as a disciplinarian and constantly kept a young Burt in check. He supported his son's excellence in football but was never vocal about his appreciation.
Burt was a great football player and was touted as a hero, however, a car accident put paid to his dreams of pursuing professional football. He had a knee injury and could not play anymore, and that is when he turned to drama. After he performed at the theatre, the actor said that he felt like "he was finally home." Reynolds', however, was not enthused by his son's newfound dreams. Burt, in a conversation, attempted to reassure his father, saying he wasn't just going into the theatre for performing, he was going into it to become a huge success.
Burt also recounted one incident when his father hit him. "That was the only time he raised his hand at me," the actor said. He was 16 years of age and was "sassing" at his mother over something when he said: "Oh yeah?" His father heard that and hit him, and dragged him to a closet. It was then when his mother famously said: "God Burton, you've killed him!" to which Reynolds responded with: "No, he's just sleeping."
Burt learned from a very young age that his father was never going to say "I love you" to him, and that is all he ever wanted. The actor explained that men at the time were not expected to be emotional, they had to be strong.
"He was a strong, strong man. I idolized him. Most people who knew him did," Burt said and became emotional when he talked about his final moments with his father: "It was a tough time for me." He revealed that his father, who lived up to the age of 94, did eventually tell him that "he was proud of me" and the actor believes it was his way of saying he loved him. "He told me he was proud of me towards the very end of his life. I think he wanted to say loved me. It was a huge deal. It was everything," an emotional Burt revealed. "It was enough for me."
Reelz 'Burt Reynolds: Life Stories with Piers Morgan' premiered Tuesday on September 3.