Submitted for your approval: an abandoned bank in Jupiter, Florida, transformed six years ago into an all-encompassing shrine to faded heartthrob Burt Reynolds. You wanna see the canoe Burt shared with Ned Beatty in Deliverance, the boots he wore in Striptease, or the Emmy he won for “Evening Shade?” It’s all in that bank, along with posters and photos from nearly every production the Pride of Lansing was ever a part of (yes, even Cop and a Half).
I’m not sure exactly what my expectations were for the Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum, but suffice to say they were exceeded the minute I waltzed in and found the BR showroom ensconced in a fancy red theater motif. This was a classy joint, and why not? Burt himself is heavily involved, donating many of his own personal mementos and occasionally turning up to host improv classes for eager Jupiter residents looking to learn more about the art of Burting.
Per the “Friends” part of the museum’s name—there is a large wall inside the museum dedicated to photos of the various famous pals Burt has made over the years. Mickey Rooney, Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg…the list goes on and on. Most have scribbled some generic platitude across their two dimensional representation, like, “Hey Burt, stay cool!” Then there’s Jane Fonda, who scrawled across her 8″x10″ the following WTFery:
I wish I knew you better.
You know, I could be dead wrong about this interpretation of “Friends” in this institution’s name, for amongst all the Burt items sits a piece of memorabilia from the beloved NBC sitcom “Friends.” It’s the frame that hung over the peephole in Monica’s(?) apartment. Is the BRM trying to hedge its bets in case people suddenly stop caring about Smokey and the Bandit? Probably not. One of the lovely ladies working the Burt Museum that day informed me one of the directors of “Friends” who donated this piece of TV history was tight with Mr. Mustache.
The employees at the BRM were pretty funny, politely cursing in earnest the names of those who had stolen awards away from Burt and lamenting the fact their hero could not attend the recent Smokey and the Bandit convention because he was filming a guest spot “Burn Notice” in Miami. I’m sure they could have wrangled Norm MacDonald to take Burt’s place.
So, yes, this palace of Reynolds was absolutely worth the three hour drive it took to get there, if only to luxuriate in some of the imagery seen below.
If it looks like I’m in a kitchenette in the final photo, it’s because I am. For some reason, that incredible rendering of Burt is tucked away in the BRM’s break room. Incredibly, I was granted access to this inner sanctum. Can you taste my giddiness as it radiates through that photograph?
Alas, the crash from my Burt Reynolds high was epic, and the past few days have been spent sleeping off one helluva cold. I’m sure Burt could have shrugged an illness like this off easy. Alas, I am no Burt.