Burt Reynolds, star of three Smokey and the Bandit movies, passed away earlier today from cardiac arrest. He was 82 years old. The actor was born in Lansing, Michigan on February 11, 1936 as Burton Leon Reynolds Jr. He attended Florida State University on a football scholarship with hopes of becoming a professional player, but had to give up that dream due to various injuries. His next goal was to a police officer but while attending an English class at Palm Beach Junior College, the instructor encouraged Reynolds to try out for a play he was producing. He got the lead part in Outward Bound which then led to working at Hyde Park Playhouse during the summer. This is where he med Joanne Wooward who help him get an agent which landed a role in Tea and Sympathy at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. In 1957, Reynolds moved to Hollywood working different jobs before getting his big break: jumping through a glass window on a live TV show. His first film was 1961’s Angel Baby. He was once asked to play James Bond (he said that an American couldn’t play 007) but instead made what many call his breakout role in Deliverance. He did a string a successful movies during the 1970’s and 1980’s including Smokey and the Bandit, White Lightning and The Cannonball Run. He was married to Laugh In’s Judy Carne from 1963-1965 and WKRP’s Loni Anderson from 1988-1993. Reynold’s last role was for The Last Movie Star in 2017. He has accepted an invitation for Quentin Taratino’s upcoming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but died before he had shot any of his scenes.
‘The Lost Saucer’ Flies By for the First Time
Created by Sid and Marty Krofft, The Lost Saucer aired for the first time on this day in 1975. While not as popular as the Krofft’s previous shows, it had its charms namely Ruth Buzzi and Jim Neighbors playing androids Fi and Fum from the year 2369. The premise is simply they visit Earth, invite young Jerry (Jarrod Johnson) and his babysitter Alice (Alice Playte) to check out their digs, but then take off with the two after being spotted by the neighbors. Along with their pet Dorse (half dog, half horse played by Larry Larsen), Fi and Fum try to make their way back to Earth to drop off the kids but continue ending up somewhere else, hence, the “lost” saucer. Each episode had a social or environmental message sewn into the story. The show featured 16 episodes (without an episode where the kids make it back home!) and initially ran as its own show through September 1976. That fall it became part of the Krofft Supershow (but was later dropped in January) and became part of the syndicated Krofft Superstars series (featuring many other shows from the Krofft brothers) from 1978 to 1985.
It was on this day that Jeff Foxworthy was born a “red neck” in Atlanta, Georgia in 1958. For years, Foxworthy’s claim to fame was being a stand-up comedian and uttering the phrase, “You might be a red neck if…” Since that time, he toured with the Blue Collar Comedy team, starred in his own sitcom, hosted three TV shows including the more recent American Bible Challenge and has done various voicework. Foxworthy has been married to his wife since 1985 and has led a Bible study for homeless men for years.
H.R. Pufnstuf Premieres
It was on this day in 1969 that Sid and Marty Krofft’s H.R. Pufnstuf came to Saturday morning TV. The H.R. Pufnstuf character was originally named Luther and was created for Kaleidoscope, a live production featured at the HemisFair ’68 world’s fair. For the show, a young boy named Jimmy (Jack Wild known for playing Oliver Twist in the movie musical, Oliver!) and his talking flute board a happy-looking boat promising to take them on an adventure. The boat was owned by Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) which was a trap to get the boy to come to Living Island. He is rescued by the mayor of the island, H.R. Pufnstuf (voiced by the show’s writer, Lennie Weinrib) who spend the next 16 epsisodes trying to get the boy off the island and back home. The cast also included former Mousketeer Sharon Baird playing the roles of Stupid Bat, Judy Frog, Shriley Pufnstuf and Lady Boyd. The show’s theme song was written by Les Szarvas but is also credited to Paul Simon when successfully sued the Krofft brothers for mickicking his song, “Feelin’ Groovy,” too closely. The next year, Universal Pictures produced a movie version of the show which also starred Cass Elliott as Witch Hazel and Martha Raye as Boss Witch. H.R. Pufnstuf once appeared in an episode of C.H.I.P.S. and later on The George Lopez Show. Sony has had plans to remake the show once in 2000 and again in 2008, but nothing has come about those efforts.