A word on Burt.

Hello and welcome to September. I realise I had foolishly promised to fill you in on some more special days to recognise in August but I never got round to it. That’s the kind of service you get here – second rate and unreliable. One thing you could rely on though, certainly according to Alan Partridge, was Burt Reynolds and now seems as good a time to say a few words about him. Because he’s just died. I grew up with Burt Reynolds (not literally) and I can honestly say that that was a good thing. Imagine if the best you could do was to say your youth coincided with the height of Daniel Craig or Nicole Kidman or Samuel L Jackson; all perfectly fine on a good day but alas a good day in the world of Burt Reynolds was so much more.
His greatest gift? To be fabulously (and daftly) cool and effortlessly charismatic but just to not take it all too seriously. Here is a man who floated through life on a charm and wit few of us will ever have. It didn’t matter that he perhaps wasn’t the greatest actor ever; when has it ever, but I would much rather watch Reynolds than Brando if I was after entertainment in the traditional sense. What mattered is that he was a star and he knew it and what’s more he never forgot it. His career arc was one huge rise and then a slow, inevitable decline during which he took on pretty much any role that would pay him enough to keep him going in/on some self-accustomised level of lifestyle.
His low points were frequent and many, but his highs were well up there too. Seriously! Cinematic immortality and acting prowess perhaps not, but to a boy watching ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ of ‘The Cannonball Run’ on a Friday night his stuff was the stuff of legend and no-one should ever take that away from him. His style seemed so easily come by in a way that Tom Cruise could never understand, let alone attempt to replicate (he worries all the time that he’s not being entertaining enough) and we must also remember that he was one of the greatest exponents of the moustachioed ladies man that Hollywood has offered us; Errol Flynn, Clarke Gable, David Niven, Burt Reynolds. Crazy but true.
As in music, every year more and more legends, some bigger than others, take a tumble and we are left to mull over what the next generation has to offer. You may not have taken Burt Reynolds very seriously and I expect he would have quite liked it that way. But in either event he was a proper star and now he’s gone and before long it’ll be Connery and Caine and, heaven forbid, Eastwood that will vanish and I have a pretty firm feeling that after that the age of the proper star will be no more and we’ll start to think of Russell Crowe as an old man. Now, Russell Crowe, I like him but let’s be honest he’s no Burt Reynolds.
G B Hewitt. 07.09.2018

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