Icon for Sale: The Fascinatingly Tacky, Macho World of the Burt Reynolds Estate Sale


As some of y’all may know, I have been going through a big Burt Reynolds phase over the past few years. It began when I read my friend Mike Sacks’ Stinker Lets Loose for the Happy Place and Happy Cast and then really kicked into high gear after the preeminent icon of rugged masculinity died at 83.

I wrote about Burt Reynolds’ unintentionally hilarious, revealing vanity project The Man From Left Field for Mike and Control Nathan Rabin 4.0 and have tackled Reynolds’ directorial debut, Gator and his final effort as a filmmaker, The Last Producer, for TCM Backlot, along with Nickelodeon, Silent Movie and The Last Movie Star for my Fractured Mirror column on movies about movies and plan to cover Boogie Nights imminently.

Most recently, I pined for a time machine so I could visit the now defunct Burt Reynolds Museum in Jupiter Florida and, if I had any time left, kill baby Hitler and wrote up Stroker Ace for today’s My World of Flops.


Burt even popped up in the final episode of Emeril, no doubt as a favor to his Evening Shade creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, to show Emeril Lagasse what an actor with charisma and presence, or even just an actor, looks and sounds like.

So you can imagine how exciting I was to find out that a Burt Reynolds estate sale is currently going on that affords fans like myself the magical opportunity to own something that once belonged to the one-time biggest movie star in the world and a preeminent American icon.

I’ve spent some time exploring the hundreds upon hundreds of items for sale, which range from the kind of junk most people would toss out to Burt’s last car, a sweet ass Trans Am expected to fetch six figures.

Pretty sure this is a caricature of Norm MacDonald as Burt Reynolds

Pretty sure this is a caricature of Norm MacDonald as Burt Reynolds

This sale offers a fascinating, voyeuristic glimpse into the private life of a very public man. The absolutely wonderful thing about this sale is that it seemingly confirms that Reynolds is EXACTLY the man we think he was, a gloriously cheesy, macho alpha male whose flashy life and times were filled with cigars, football memorabilia, personalized license plates, dream catchers, shrines to heroes like John Wayne, exquisitely tacky Native American and cowboy art and all sorts of cheesy detritus with his name on it.

One of the curious aspects of fame and celebrity is that free stuff tends to be given to people so rich and powerful they should be able to pay for just about anything. Reynolds’ estate sale is consequently full of stuff he was given for free, much of it with festooned with his magical, magical name, including any number of dubious awards and honors.

I’m proud of this sensual portrait I made of Loni Anderson and flattered Reynolds kept it in his collection.

I’m proud of this sensual portrait I made of Loni Anderson and flattered Reynolds kept it in his collection.

Judging by his estate sale, Reynolds was a real pack rat who had a tough time getting rid of anything, no matter how random, insignificant or accidentally surreal. Random, insignificant and accidentally surreal sure describe one of my favorite bits of Burt ephemera from the big, ghoulish estate sale: a certificate of adoption establishing that Burt Reynolds, legendary movie star, is officially a proud of parent of “Burt Reynolds”, a “sub adult olive Ridley sea turtle that was found entangled in a net in the surf on Hobe Sound Beach.”


I can only imagine how confusing this must have been. It must have been very frustrating for Loni Anderson, for example, to have to repeatedly clarify that she used to be married to Burt Reynolds, the famous actor and not Burt Reynolds, the sea turtle.

I also like to think that Reynolds kept his adoption papers with him in case he wanted to visit the legendary Turtle Club. If a bouncer were to give Reynolds guff for being insufficiency turtley to gain entrance to this prestigious hangout, Burt could just whip out his adoption papers and tell the impressed club employee, “Look, I have the same name as a turtle that I officially adopted. So in a sense this turtle is me, but this turtle is also, somehow, my inter-species son as well. Does that not make me turtly enough for the Turtle Club?”

If he’s still denied entry, he could loudly shout “Turtle! Turtle! Turtle!” until he gains access.

Included in this estate sale are the many, many, many awards Reynolds won over the course of his illustrious career. Along with the certification of nominations for Golden Globes and one Oscar and trophies for being the top box-office attraction of the year are stranger, more obscure are bewildering awards like a trophy/sculpture/portrait for the Smokey & the Bandit icon being a 1981 Hero of Young America” that looks like it was made out of a combination of yarn and rotten spaghetti.


If I were Reynolds, I would hurl this eyesore into the nearest wastebasket or donate it to Goodwill, where it will look strangely at home alongside similarly ugly trophies for winning assistant manager of the year.


I don’t want to kink-shame Reynolds but if I were him the only note I leave the executors of my will would be “Please, whatever happens, no one must know that I have a painting of an anthropomorphic female duck with enormous breasts and a snake tongue smoking a cigarette while looking bored. Burn it. Paint over it. Smash it with a hammer but whatever you do, keep it a secret. On judgment day I will answer to God himself for my proclivities but I shall answer ONLY to God, not the prying, non-comprehending eyes of my fellow man.”

Perusing the items up for auction I realized that if I had the money, the space and the time, I could create my own Burt Reynolds Museum out of the Boogie Nights star’s cherished, and not so cherished, belongings.


That seems a little ambitious considering how much I have on my plate at the moment, but I do plan to acquire at least something from the auction. It’s not quite as majestic or audacious as building a newfangled Burt Reynolds Museum out of the treasures for sale in the big auction but a belt buckle from one of Reynolds’ manly movies (you better believe he was a big personalized belt buckle type of guy) would, at the very least, give me a very real, very silly connection to the man and his magical world.

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