Thursday, September 06, 2018

Burt Reynolds Belongs To The Ages

Burt Reynolds

Belongs To The Ages


One of the great Hollywood icons has passed away. Burt Reynolds starred in many famous movies including Deliverance, Smokey & the Bandit, Cannonball Run, and Boogie Nights. Burt was also a major sex symbol in the late 1970s. 

In the recent photo above we see Burt Reynolds wearing his vintage yellow gold Rolex Datejust with a deep blue dial with diamond markers on a special yellow gold bracelet. Burt wore this watch for several decades and if you look closely you will notice his yellow gold Rolex Datejust has sword/leaf hands which were popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which would lead me to believe this watch was from that era. Also, notice it has an unusual gold bracelet, but Rolex offered such exotic bracelets on the Datejust and Day-Date back then.

Burt Reynolds has owned and worn many different Rolex models which we will take a look at in this story. The photo of Burt was taken below on May 4, 1978, at the premiere of 'The End' in Los Angeles. We see he is wearing a GMT-Master or Submariner.

Stan Barrett

In order to really understand Burt Reynolds we have to examine two men who were very close to him, that had a big influence on his life. Those men are Hal Needham and Stan Barrett.

First, let's take a look at Stan Barrett who stunt doubled Paul Newman and Burt Reynolds more than any other person: 

I reached out to Stan Barrett for comment on this article and he said:

"I am so sorry to have learned that Burt passed away. Ironically, I recently spoke with Burt and was planning to visit him in the next few weeks. Burt's passing really took me by surprise! Burt Reynolds affected many peoples lives. In my opinion, he could and should have been one of the greatest serious actors, and would have been if he had done things differently. 

Burt was the number 1 actor in the world for 5 years and he made my career. The 1966 TV series, Hawk was Burt's breakout show where he was the star and he and Hal Needham chose me to be Burt's stuntman. After having doubled Burt on Hawk, when I came back to Hollywood, I became recognized as THE go-to stuntman. Burt and Hawk literally made my stunt career!

Burt and I lived together for a year in a Woodland Hills condo and had a lot of good times together. Burt was on my first stock car race team.  He was a great athlete and could have been a great stuntman if he chose that path."

If you are not familiar with Stan Barrett he was not only the top stuntman in Hollywood but also broke back to back to back land speed records which culminated in him being the first driver to break the speed of sound barrier on land. In the photo below we see Stan Barrett in 1979 at Edwards Air Force Base as he prepares to break through the sound barrier in his Budweiser Rocket car. Notice Stan is wearing a Daytona and GMT-Master on his wrist.

Hal Needham

Hal Needham was a highly enigmatic figure who was known for being the best stuntman in the world before Stan Barrett came along. Of course, Stan Barret was Hal Needham's protege.

Hal Needham grew up in a poor family and ended up in the military. He was an unusually brave man who ended up becoming the top stuntman in Hollywood as well as the top stunt-coordinator, second unit director, as well as becoming a successful writer, and director. Hal wrote Smokey & The Bandit (1977), and Hooper (1978) with Johnny Best. Burt Reynolds was in awe of Hal Needham and emulated him in many ways. Hal Needham was a real go-getter and a hardcore alpha-male who constantly pushed the envelope. As a matter of fact, the first developed the Budweiser Rocket car, and after trying to set a land speed record, almost died. He passed the baton on to his protege, Stan Barrett who followed in his footsteps.

Hal Needham was an extremely macho man who was cool, flamboyant and unusually self-assured. Stan Barrett told me: 

"When I first met Hal Needham he was pretty low key. Hal wore jeans and drove a pickup truck with a straw cowboy hat. But after his success with Smokey and The Bandit, he came into his own. I gave Hal his Rolex Day-Date which was in so many ways symbolic of his leadership style and confidence."

Hal Needham is pictured below holding his Oscar that matches his yellow gold Rolex Day-Date. 

In my observation, Hal was a super example of a man who wore his Rolex Day-Date and used it as a tool watch for inspiration. 

In the photo below we see Stan Barrett wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master and Rolex Daytona on his left wrist as he prepares to become the first man to drive a vehicle on earth past the speed of sound. The Rolex Daytona on his wrist is no ordinary watch. Stan Barrett's best friend, Paul Newman gave him that Daytona especially for the occasion of his attempt to break the sound barrier. 

Hal Needham doubled Burt Reynolds on Riverboat and Gunsmoke. According to Stan Barrett, Burt emulated and wanted to be Hal Needham.

Stan Barrett also told me that when Hal Needham chose him to double Burt Reynolds on Hawk, he said, "I looked in this kids eyes and I saw myself." Stan continued and said, "James Best, Hal Needham, and Burt Reynolds made me."

In the photo below taken in 1984 at the Atlanta Journal 500, we see legendary Stuntman and Movie Director Hal Needham with Burt Reynolds. Burt is hugging Stan Barrett who is wearing his Pepsi GMT-Master he wore when he was the first man to break the speed of sound barrier on land in 1979.

Stan told me a story about how he was the stunt double for Burt Reynolds on the movie Hooper in 1978, and interestingly enough, he loaned Burt Reynolds his Rolex GMT-Master to wear in the movie as Burt played the role of Hal, and they kept passing it back and forth as Stan wore it in the stunt scenes and Burt wore it in the regular scenes. 

Stan mentioned to me that the action movie Hooper was loosely based upon his and Hal Needham's careers as stuntmen. Hall Needham directed the movie, Hooper.

In the photo above, we see Burt Reynolds on the set of Hooper, wearing Stan Barrett's Rolex GMT-Master, as he poses for a photo with fellow top-actor Clint Eastwood and movie producer, Lawrence Gordon.

The first image below is from the opening scene of Hooper (1978) and shows Burt Reynolds switching from wearing his Rolex GMT-Master to a Rolex Day-Date before he performs a motorcycle stunt. 

You can watch the opening scene below for Hooper where Bury Reynolds switches from a GMT-master to a Rolex President. This is a HIGHLY iconic movie Rolex cameo appearance up there with Alec Baldwin's command performance in Glengarry Glen Ross with a Rolex DAy-Date on his wrists

There are a number of scenes in Hooper where you can see Bury Reynolds wearing Stan Barrett's Rolex GMT-Master.

In the screengrab below we see Burt Reynolds wearing Hal Needham's Rolex Day-Date in the movie Hooper.

In this next photo, we see Burt Reynolds with costar, Farrah Fawcett Majors from a photo from Cannonball Run which came out in 1981. In 1981 Bury and Farrah were the two biggest sex symbols on earth.

In the photo below we see Burt Reynolds with Sylvester Stallone, who is wearing his Rolex Submariner.

Burt Reynolds was married to the gorgeous actress Loni Anderson from 1988 to 1994.

Boogie Nights

In 1997 Burt Reynolds made a huge comeback with his role in Boogie Nights for which he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. Notice he is wearing his yellow gold Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee Bracelet.

An American James Bond?

Sean Connery grew tired of playing James Bond and in 1968 decided to move on with his acting career. Albert Broccoli, the producer of James Bond approached Burt Reynolds and offered him the role. Burt Reynolds claimed he rejected the role saying "An American can't play James Bond. It just can't be done!!!" 

Burt Reynolds around the time he was offered the James Bond Role

It sure is interesting to wonder what would have happened if Burt Reynolds had accepted the role? Kind of like, wondering what Raiders Of The Lost Ark what have been like if Tom Selleck played Indiana Jones instead of Harrison Ford!?! 

It is also interesting to see how remarkably similar Sean Connery and Burt Reynolds look when they got older. By the way, both Sean Connery and Burt Reynolds are wearing toupees in this photo.

Burt Reynolds passed on many movies including playing the role of Hans Solo in Star Wars.