Burt Reynolds’ bronze sculpture unveiled in ceremony at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Guests gather around a recently unveiled memorial sculpture of the late actor Burt Reynolds following a ceremony at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on September 20, 2021. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)

A plaque and a palm tree weren’t enough to mark Burt Reynolds’ swagger and star power.

That’s why a bronze bust, with a mustache of course, and sporting his “Smokey and the Bandit” cowboy hat, was unveiled on Monday, three years after his death.

“Does anyone else want to touch him?” Loni Anderson, Reynolds’ wife from 1988 to 1994, asked the small crowd that had gathered around the sculpture after the unveiling at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

“Yes, he was meant to be touched!” said Caroline PM Jones, the artist who made it.

Anderson and his son with Reynolds, Quinton, chose the spot where Reynolds’ cremated remains were laid to rest in February, as it was next to a palm tree and water, reminiscent of his native Florida. A simple plaque with his name marked the place.

But Hollywood Forever co-owner Tyler Cassity told them the many visitors to his grave would appreciate a monument more, something to look at, to touch, to take photos with. The bust was therefore ordered.

“It’s absolutely beautiful, it’s exactly what we both imagined,” Quinton Reynolds told The Associated Press after a brief private ceremony where a crowd of several dozen people close to Reynolds gathered to mark the occasion.

Guests included actors Stefanie Powers and Ruta Lee.

A memorial sculpture of the late actor Burt Reynolds is pictured after its unveiling at a ceremony at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on September 20, 2021 (Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)
A memorial sculpture of the late actor Burt Reynolds is pictured after its unveiling at a ceremony at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on September 20, 2021 (Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

Most gathered around the bust to take a close look and take photos before heading to the screening of a new documentary, “I am Burt Reynolds,” for a much larger audience on a nearby graveyard lawn.

While the bust cowboy hat suggests a 1970s Reynolds, it’s designed to look like a more timeless version.

“That was one of the things we talked about, do we do baby Burt, do we do middle aged Burt, do we do ‘Smokey’ Burt?” “Anderson told the AP . “It worked all decades, so what decade are we doing?

What they ended up with was “more of an interpretation of each decade,” she said.

Jones’ workspace during the process would make her look like the biggest Reynolds fan in the world.

“On one side of my studio I had pictures of Burt from all eras,” the sculptor said.

There have been many detailed discussions about things like the precise length of his mustache. Jones admitted that she really fell in love with him while she was working.

“He’s such a good looking guy, really, what a good looking man,” she said.

Anderson really wanted to do one thing.

“He needs those beautiful lips,” she said, “because I think everyone wants to kiss him.”

A college football star in Florida State, Reynolds went on to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and world’s biggest sex symbols in the 1970s and 1980s, known for his mustache, cocky laugh, and unbridled swagger. -conformist. He starred in two films “Smokey and the Bandit” with “Deliverance”, “Gator” and “Boogie Nights”, for which he was nominated for an Oscar.

He died at the age of 82 on September 6, 2018, in a hospital in Jupiter, Florida. He was cremated a few days later. It’s unclear why it took until the start of this year for his ashes to reach the Hollywood grave, his family chose to keep the details private, but the pandemic contributed to the delays.

Anderson and Quinton Reynolds spoke jointly at Monday night’s ceremony.

She opened by acknowledging that she was not, in the eyes of many, the person most likely to offer good memories of Reynolds, given the sometimes difficult relationship that was constantly playing out in the tabloids.

“There’s no one here who, unless you’re from another planet who realizes we’ve had 12 tumultuous years together,” Anderson said, speaking with his son by his side. “But I just want to remember the good times. And there were many. “

Hollywood Forever, founded in 1899 and located near Paramount Pictures Park, has in recent years grown into both a historic landmark, home to the graves of big stars such as Judy Garland and Douglas Fairbanks, and a cultural center, home to concerts and performances. film screenings.

Cassity told Reynolds’ family and friends at the ceremony that her grave is close to that of idols from two previous eras of cinema, Tyrone Power and Rudolph Valentino.

“Please know he’s in good company,” Cassity said.

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