Burt Reynolds’ love life included an ill-fated marriage to a TV starlet and regret at letting Sally Field go – and he also had contact with Princess Diana.
Before his death, Reynolds admitted he carried a flame for Field decades after they broke up – and she felt the same way.
“There are times in your life that are so indelible, they never fade away,” Field, 71, said in a statement to People after news of the star’s passing broke.
“They stay alive, even forty years later. My years with Burt never leave my mind. He will be in my history and my heart, for as long as I live.
The couple met and fell in love on the set of their 1977 hit Smokey and the Bandit. They made three more films together and had an almost-five year relationship before breaking up in 1982.
But the Boogie Nights star, who was 82 when he died on Thursday (US time) in Florida, admitted in 2016 – “Well, yeah” – that Field was the one who got away.
She was “the love of my life”, he told Vanity Fair in 2015, adding he continued to “miss her terribly” and still loved her decades on.
“Even now, it’s hard on me. I don’t know why I was so stupid,” said The Longest Yard star.
“Men are like that, you know. You find the perfect person, and then you do everything you can to screw it up.”
His romance with the “very, very special” Steel Magnolias and Forrest Gump star “was real”, he told People three years ago, adding he was warned by her mother not to hurt the Oscar-winning actress.
“I know you’re going to break her heart, but please be gentle,” her mother told the actor.
“I said, ‘I don’t know how you could break somebody’s heart and be gentle, but I don’t intend to break her heart.’ You never intend to,” Reynolds said.
The star’s other relationships included one in the 1970s with singer Dinah Shore and a marriage to TV bombshell Loni Anderson, 73, in 1988.
After having son Quinton Anderson Reynolds, now 30, they split in 1994 and Reynolds later admitted getting hitched to the WKRP in Cincinnati star was “a really dumb move on my part.”
“Anderson bought everything in triplicate, from everyday dresses to jewellery to china and linens,” he wrote in his 2015 memoir But Enough About Me.
“I gave her a platinum American Express card with a $45,000 credit limit,” he wrote. “She maxed it out in half an hour.”
Amid the couple’s explosive split, “the press went into high gear”, Reynolds wrote in the memoir.
Such high gear, in fact, that “Princess Diana sent me a thank you note for keeping her off the cover of People magazine.”
While the actor – who reportedly turned down the role of Han Solo in Star Wars – said his greatest regret was letting Field go, he also said he wished he’d never done his famous 1972 Cosmopolitan nude photo shoot.
— Leanne Tritton (@leannetritton) September 6, 2018
“I wish I could say I wanted to show my support for women’s rights, but I just thought it would be fun,” he told Business Insider in 2016.
Afterwards, “I wasn’t taken as a serious actor,” he said.
“I think Deliverance suffered because of it and a lot of other things and I wasn’t pleased that I did it, but at the time I wanted everyone to understand the humour of it.”