Yesterday, legendary actor Burt Reynolds died. The star of Smokey and the Bandit, Deliverance, and other films was 82.
I got the chance to briefly meet Burt when he gave a pre-game speech to Florida State alumni on November 10, 2001 when N.C. State was the visiting team. He was of course mobbed by FSU well-wishers that day but kindly took a moment for me to take a photo of him with my starstruck mother. Meeting him meant a lot to my mom but what always struck me about the photograph is that Burt truly looks like it meant a lot to him, too. It wasn’t a faked smile, or a pained look like he had somewhere else to be. He truly seems like he enjoyed the moment, like he had known my mom forever.
You often hear of celebrities who seem nice in public but turn out to be jerks when the cameras aren’t around. Burt Reynolds was exactly who he seemed to be: just a funny, kind, down-to-earth guy.
Rest in peace, sir.