"Biggest regret of my life": The complicated love story of Burt Reynolds and Sally Field.


Veteran Hollywood icon and star of Deliverance and The Longest Yard Burt Reynolds has died.

The 82-year-old, who was known for his good looks and charismatic personality, died in Jupiter, Florida on Thursday morning after suffering a heart attack.

Burt’s former partner, actress Sally Field, has released a statement honouring the iconic actor.

“There are times in your life that are so indelible, they never fade away,” she said.

“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. Rest, Buddy.”

Sally and Burt first began dating in 1977 after starring together in Smokey and the Bandit, but if it wasn’t for Burt’s persistence, the pair may never have met.

Sally Field and Burt Reynolds on the set of Smokey and The Bandit II. Image: Getty.

"I wanted her really bad for Smokey and they [the producers] said, 'Well, she's not sexy'," Burt told Today back in March. "And I said, 'you don't get it, talent is sexy.' And she's got that."

From there, Burt and Sally, who was 11 years his junior, went on to date for a further five years, starring in four movies together including Smokey and The Bandit, Smokey and the Bandit II, The End and Hooper.

But it all came crashing down in 1982 when the pair parted ways in an incredibly public split. In fact, the split was so bitter, the former couple reportedly didn't speak to each other for a further two decades.

Speaking to Closer Weekly back in March, Sally opened up about the break-up.

"He gave me a feeling that I was sexy, and I wanted to be everything he ever wanted," she said. "[But] that was terrible because what happened is that I stopped existing. I dressed for him, looked for him, walked for him."

"He asked me to marry him many times, [but] I knew his heart wasn’t in it. We’d have ended up just feeling terrible," she added.

Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in Smokey And The Bandit' in 1977. Image: Getty.

Rumours surrounding the split suggested Burt was unfaithful and was caught up with drugs when Sally ended their relationship.

"(Burt) and I dated for many years. It was an important influence in my life, an important character in my life. But ultimately not the character in my life," Sally said in a 2005 interview.

“I think there’s a lot of sadness about Burt as a person. I think the country feels that about him. I think the country loved him, and I think he’s a very damaged person that couldn’t move on out of it in a lot of ways. I think the nation wanted him to be okay, and I think he’s an example of someone who couldn’t be. He couldn’t be okay. And I think the country feels sad about him.”


Speaking to Daily Mail about the split in a 2016 interview, Burt admitted that he "screwed the relationship up".

"That sense of loss never goes away," he said. "I have no idea what Sally thinks about it. She could pick up the phone and speak to me but she never does. I spoke to her son recently. He said that his mom talks about me all the time. Maybe she’ll phone me one day. I’d love to have that conversation."

Right up until his death, Burt still referred to his former co-star as "the love of my life".

Sally and Burt star in the 1978 film Hooper. Image: Getty.

"I miss her terribly," he told Vanity Fair in November 2015. "Even now, it's hard on me. I don't know why I was so stupid. Men are like that, you know. You find the perfect person, and then you do everything you can to screw it up."

In his 2015 memoir, But Enough About Me, the actor also said that his biggest regret in life was not making their relationship work.

Prior to his relationship with Sally, Burt was married to British actress Judy Carne from 1963 to 1965, before going on to date singer Dinah Shore who was 20 years his senior.

After splitting from Sally, Burt was married to actress Loni Anderson for several years from 1988 to 1994. Together they had one child together, Quinton Anderson Reynolds.

Burt's niece, Nancy Lee Hess has also released a statement regarding her uncle's death which she described as "unexpected".

Burt Reynolds as Bo 'Bandit' Darville, in 'Smokey And The Bandit', 1977. Image: Getty.

“My uncle was not just a movie icon; he was a generous, passionate and sensitive man who was dedicated to his family, friends, fans and acting students,” she said.

“He has had health issues, however, this was totally unexpected. He was tough. Anyone who breaks their tailbone on a river and finishes the movie is tough. And that’s who he was," she added.

“My family and I appreciate the outpouring of love for my uncle, and I ask that everyone please respect our family’s privacy at this very difficult time.”