Burt Reynolds on Palm Beach: ‘It’s intoxicating’

Burt Reynolds once mused about buying Mar-a-Lago.

He loved driving Worth Avenue and spent one summer during his youth visiting the island’s beaches and impressive estates.

Those are just some of the memories that Reynolds, who died Thursday in Jupiter at age 82, shared through the years about Palm Beach.

Here are some others:

Palm Beach, he once said, was never overrated. And he even entertained the idea of moving to the island, when he was making “an indecent amount of money.”

“I looked at gated mansions and I almost bought the Post estate! (Mar-a-Lago was once owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post) I would have looked like an idiot holding court there. It’s perfect for the man who owns it now and I enjoy going there for dinner and drinks on occasion.”

He also remembered when, between his junior and senior years at Palm Beach High, he first entered an island estate.

“In the summer, the island was deserted,” he wrote in his first autobiography, My Life, published in 1994. “These titans of money and status took their backgammon sets, Geritol and martinis to Kennebunkport or Newport or wherever else they summered, and unknowingly left their boarded-up homes to us. During the day, we camped on their fabulous private beaches. Later, under the cover of darkness, we snuck inside and, behind the hurricane-shuttered windows, lit candles, played our little radios and danced up a storm.”

And Worth Avenue always held a special attraction. In 2004, he wrote about how he loved the street, especially at Christmastime.

“I love to drive around the island in a convertible in the evening with the top down, no matter it be summer or winter. It’s intoxicating.”

That might have had something to do with his earliest memories of the island.

In his recent memoir, But Enough About Me, Reynolds recalled walking along Worth Avenue in the 1950s when he stopped in front of an antique shop window. He saw a beautiful older woman looking back. He was 15. She was in her 40s, “which seemed ancient to me at the time,” he wrote.

Eventually, he lost his virginity to her at her beach house: “It was my first time, and I was smitten.”

But it wasn’t meant to be. She broke it off. Like many first loves, he still gets a little moony about his Palm Beach version of Mrs. Robinson: “Not a week goes by that I don’t think about her.”


Larry Aydlette contributed to this report, which also was compiled from Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach Daily News and Palm Beach Life archives.

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