Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum (Gone)
It's hard to believe that Burt Reynolds has been a star for so long. As made clear at The Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum in Jupiter, he was a bridge between the stars of yester-yesteryear, like Bette Davis and Jimmy Stewart, the stars of yester-year like Dinah Shore and Henry Winkler, and the stars of today like Adam Sandler.
Reynolds Peoples Choice awards, on display here, illustrate the point. He was the favorite Male Motion Picture Actor for six straight years, from 1979-1984, while three times during that period also winning favorite All-Around Male Entertainer. In 1978 that honor went to Bob Hope. In 1984, it went to Michael Jackson.
The museum is located a bit out of the way of the main Florida tourist meccas, because Reynolds grew up locally (his father was a police chief in nearby Riviera Beach). The Burt Reynolds Dinner Theater was also in Jupiter, open from 1979 until Burts financial problems caused it to close in the mid-90s.
Located in a former bank branch, the building still has the drive-through lane outside, and a vault inside. According to local press, Reynolds installed the smoked glass front doors, to make it seem less of a bank, and to give a sense of drama to the entry area. They also reported that Reynolds personally hung many of the photos displayed.
Indeed, there are many photos -- the ones with Presidents are above the entrance -- and include hundreds of stars from sports and entertainment. These are in the "Friends" or "Heroes, Friends and Neighbors" section, and commemorate a full life, well-lived. Competing for space with the photos are framed magazine covers, from People to Hollywood Hunks (subtitled "From Gable to Reynolds").
Reynolds made over 100 films and posters on display re-individualize films, like Gator and White Lightning, or Heat and City Heat, that memory has compressed into one. The hat worn in Sam Whiskey is in a case next to the hat worn in Cat Dancing to keep those two straight.
Around the museum are film and TV awards, including his Oscar nomination for Boogie Nights, the aforementioned Peoples Choice awards and his Golden Globes (first nominated in 1971 for best TV actor in Dan August).
Near the vault is an Evening Shade section. "Evening Shade? Oh, yeah!" This sitcom, which aired from 1990-94 brought Reynolds his Best Actor Emmy (also on display).
Memorabilia abounds. The canoe from the movie Deliverance is balanced on its nose in one corner. The sign next to it makes it appear that it had once traveled in a carnival. The hockey stick lawn chair from Mystery, Alaska is front and center, and custom cases in the center of the museum show off keys to various cities, civic proclamations, commemorative belt buckles and honorary police badges, including one from the real Hawaii Five-0.
Gifts from friends play a part here. The last jar of stick-em used by pal and Hall of Fame football receiver Fred Biletnikoff is given an engraved plaque. In an adjacent case is one of former girlfriend Chris Everts Virginia Slims womens professional tennis trophies. It features a flapper with a tennis racket in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and is shown next to Everts inscription, "I Won It For You."
Museum guides note that the role Reynolds is most famous for is the one most people come to see that of The Bandit in Smokey and The Bandit. The museum shows posters of the film from around the world, toys, as well as the "Bandit" boots and belt Reynolds wore. The car is not here.
There are a few understandable absences (at least we didnt see them). The Cosmo centerfold from 1972 is missing, for example, though the poster for the 1972 movie, Fuzz, contains a reference. Nor is there memorabilia from the adult video game Grand Theft Auto (he is the voice of slum clearing real estate mogul Avery Carrington). Maybe that stuff is in the vault.
The Burt Reynolds Institute is also located here, hosting educational master acting classes, some taught by the master himself (Reynolds has also endowed the Burt Reynolds Eminent Scholar Chair in Regional and Professional Theatre at his alma mater, Florida State University.).
The gift store is a good one, with "Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum" golf shirts, coffee mugs and baseball caps, as well as a 14k Gold "Bandit" Charm for $89.95.