Good News in History, February 11

Good News in History, February 11

Burt Reynolds 2015 youtube thumbnail


Happy 81st birthday to Burt Reynolds. The Hollywood star and romancer might never have become an actor had he not been injured as a star football player at Florida State University. An English teacher later convinced him to try out for a play based on his reading of Shakespeare in class. Reynolds got the lead and won the 1956 Florida State Drama Award for his performance. Over his long career, the actor, director, and producer starred in many television series and feature films, such as Deliverance, The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, and The Cannonball RunWATCH a clip. (1931)



Reynolds was once turned down for a film in 1957 because he looked too much like Marlon Brando. He later grew his trademark thick mustache to solve that problem. Reynolds’s breakout performance in Deliverance (1972) made him a star, and his role in Smokey and the Bandit made him wealthy. Lucky for Harrison Ford, Reynolds turned down the role of Han Solo in Star Wars.

Burt Reynolds-publicity photo


He said in his 1974 memoir that he never would have had the same career without Johnny Carson, the host the “Tonight Show”, who frequently invited him as a guest or stand-in host. “From my first appearance in the late sixties, we were captivated by each other.”

Reynolds underwent a quintuple heart bypass in February 2010. WATCH him answer questions in May, 2015, at a Comic Con event while on a book tour touting his latest memoir, and see an appearance on the Tonight Show below when he shaved half of his famous mustache while Steve Martin was hosting…

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • The Society of Friends (Quakers) petitioned the US to abolish slavery (1790)
  • First session of US Senate opened to the public (1794)
  • GM recognized the United Auto Workers Union to end a strike (1937)
  • The Beatles performed their first concert in the United States, in Washington D.C. (1964)
  • Vietnam released first American prisoners of war (1973)
  • China lifted a ban on Aristotle, Shakespeare and Dickens books (1978)
  • The Episcopal Church named its first woman bishop (1989)
  • Nelson Mandela was freed, after spending more than a quarter century in a South African prison; four years later he became that country’s first black president (1990)
  • The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization formed to represent self-proclaimed “indigenous peoples, minorities, and unrecognised or occupied territories (1991)
  • The Egyptian Revolution culminated in the resignation of Hosni Mubarak and the transfer of power to the Supreme Military Council after 18 days of mostly peaceful mass protests (2011)