Burt Reynolds, Pioneer Of Georgia Film, Has Died

Well, we’re a political blog. We don’t write much about celebrities and their lives or their passing, but Burt Reynolds was one of us, a Georgian. Like many Georgians, he wasn’t really from here, though he claimed to have been born in Waycross throughout most of his career. He didn’t really live here, though he had (or at least was rumored to have had) houses here from time to time. But his early movies – the ones that made him a star – they were made in Georgia. And there’s a bit of politics behind that.

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure to have dinner with President and Mrs Carter. It wasn’t an interview and I didn’t prepare questions nor take notes. Neither would have been appropriate. At one point however I did bring up the success of Georgia’s film industry and as much thinking out loud as trying to make a point, guessed that perhaps Deliverance or Smokey and the Bandit were filmed in Georgia while he was Governor.

President Carter cracked a bit of a smile before responding, indicating that I was headed in the right direction but also didn’t quite have my facts together. He then noted, quite politely, that he had established the Governor’s Office of Film, and made the State Prison at Reidsville available for another Reynolds film, The Longest Yard.

We then had quite a conversation with anecdotes from the filming of the era, and of the Carter’s involvement with the entertainment artists of the era. The next night, coincidentally, he bestowed an honorary doctorate on Gregg Allman at Mercer University.  His interest in the entertainment field was more than casual.

When searching the internet trying to make sure I had some of my facts correct to match my memory of the evening, I found the following YouTube with Bert Reynolds speaking of President Carter: (Skip to about the 8 minute mark for the specific parts about Governor Carter, but most is about Reynolds & Georgia.)

In the above, Burt Reynolds talks about Georgia’s life long pull on him, and our state’s role in his career. He also talks about other unnamed film projects he sent to Georgia, and ultimately putting Georgia on the map for our current film industry.

As he notes in the clip, the key to Reynolds’ recurring filming here was because of “the nicest man on the planet”. A man who still will sit around a friend’s kitchen table and chat with visitors about Georgia, U.S., and world history and current events, helping them connect our history to the present.

Thus, Burt Reynolds passing is an event for Georgia, as he was one of us, and a major contributor to setting the foundation for one of our most prominent and fastest growing industries. Also, the occasion should also be noted that one of his friends happened to be one of our former Governors and Presidents. One who was welcoming enough to plant the seed, and saw the vision to provide the initial public support to grow an industry that now employs thousands of Georgians.

3
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
2 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
CarolineCharliexdog Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
xdog
xdog

Charlie, I hate to be that guy but it’s Duane not Dwayne, and it was Gregg, two g’s, who was awarded the doctorate.

Nice anecdote about President Carter. I can truly believe he’s “the nicest man on the planet” just as I believe Burt was pretty OK himself.

Caroline
Caroline

That is a very nice tribute to Reynolds. I remember a while back reading an article in the AJC about how North Georgia was still trying to live down the reputation it got from the movie Deliverance.