Burt Reynolds Spent $100,000 on Toupees Before Filing for Bankruptcy: ‘I Would’ve Spent More Money’

Actor Burt Reynolds was a pretty big deal back in the ’60s and ’70s. He appeared in almost every movie and was considered a sex symbol. The world went into mourning when the famed actor succumbed to a heart attack in 2018. Reynolds had an impressive career that spans almost six decades. At the peak of his career, he had amassed an exceptional net worth of $60 million. However, between his luxurious spending and expensive divorce, Reynolds’ wealth declined to a meager $5 million at the time of his death.

Burt Reynolds smiling, head tilted, in black and white
Burt Reynolds | DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Reynolds thought of becoming a police officer

Reynolds was born on February 11, 1936, in Michigan, although he claimed that he was born in Waycross, Georgia, throughout his career. Reynolds’ father got drafted into the United States Army, and his family moved to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Soon after, his father got deployed to Europe, and the rest of the family moved to his mother’s hometown Lake City Michigan. Reynolds attended Palm Beach High School and later Florida State University after receiving a football scholarship.

Reynolds was a good football player, but he injured his knee in his first game in sophomore season. Later that year, the actor got involved in an accident, which resulted in another knee injury and a lost spleen. Eventually, his football career ended, and the actor thought of becoming a police officer. He completed his studies at Palm Beach Junior College, where his professor asked him to audition for a play in an English class. 

Burt Reynolds had an impressive career

Reynolds guest-starred in television shows such as The Lawless Years and Pony Express. His first big break came when he was cast in the series Riverboat alongside Darren McGavin. He was to play Marlon Brando’s double but quit after 20 episodes. Afterward, Reynolds had trouble finding jobs and said that he was not marketable since he abandoned a show mid-way.

However, he guest-starred in shows such as Playhouse 90, Michael Shayne, The Aquanuts, and Lock-Up. Reynolds termed the years working on these shows as “depressing years.” In 1962 he landed a role on one of the top-rated shows, Gunsmoke. He declared that he would stay in the show until it ended. He left the show in 1965 but said that working on it was the happiest time of his life.

In 1970, Reynold played the titular character in the police procedural drama Dan August. The show, however, didn’t do well compared to Hawaii Five-0 leading to its cancellation. The actor was then offered the role of James Bond after Sean Connery, but he declined it, saying that an American could never play James Bond. Reynolds is perhaps known most for his success in Smokey and the Bandit.

Around this time, Reynolds had gotten famous for being an entertaining guest on talk shows. He often cracked jokes at his own expense and even guest-hosted The Tonight Show. In 1976, the actor branched out into the directorial world with Gator. Reynolds was nominated for various awards such as the Golden Globe Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards, and British Academy Film Awards. He won two Golden Globe Awards and one Primetime Emmy Award. 

Reynolds had expensive taste

Reynolds spent his money as fast as he earned it. He was known for investing heavily in houses and other expensive things. Reynolds’ lavish lifestyle included several mansions in Beverly Hills, a private jet, more villas in other states, and a 160-acre ranch in Florida with 150 horses.

His second marriage to Loni Anderson cost the actor a lot of money and eventually led him to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1996. According to Insider, Reynolds spent more than $100,000 on toupees alone. Even though he squandered most of his money in luxurious items, including hair, Reynolds said, “I would have spent more money and had a lot more fun.”