They chose a second obscure restaurant chain, Daisy’s Diner.Unfortunately it also failed to generate the expected windfall, costing the Buddys another million or so. A nightclub in Atlanta, Burt’s Place, closed within a year. And being ‘the Countess,’ she’d only wear them once because, you know, she couldn’t possibly wear a dress after it had been photographed.By the time Reynolds exited that situation, in the mid-80s, he had lost roughly million. And the 28,000-square-foot Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre, in Jupiter, Florida, perpetually struggled for profits and respectability.—movies that were, in his words, “the kind they show in prisons and airplanes, because nobody can leave.”Among filmmakers, Reynolds was said to be ornery, demanding, difficult. The rumor mill turned grotesque while he filmed the 1984 cop drama During a stunt, he accidentally suffered a broken jaw. Reynolds once went so far as to fly his chopper over the *National Enquirer’*s Florida headquarters and shower it with horse manure. She’d say, ‘I have to dress like a Even after Burt-and-Loni finally imploded, in 1993, allegations of assault, substance abuse, and infidelity—he was carrying on with a cocktail waitress, Loni claimed—fueled the mother of all divorce-court battles.

“Honestly, I didn’t give it another thought until I found out that maybe it wasn’t such a sound investment.”Po’ Folks was a money pit.

Team Buddy, having lost millions fast, determined that the prudent course of action entailed liquidating its assets and redirecting the remaining money into a wiser investment.

There, behind a circular driveway and a grand fountain, stands a 12,500-square-foot waterfront mansion that might be described as Spanish Revival meets Southern Plantation meets Burt-and-Loni. But I haven’t been somebody who’s been smart about his money.

It was here that Reynolds and his second wife, Loni Anderson, played out much of their calamitous five-year disunion, which ended in 1993, accelerating Reynolds’s slide into bankruptcy, foreclosure proceedings, shame, and retreat. There are a couple of actors who are quite brilliant with the way they’ve handled their money.” He smiles.

Studios wouldn’t touch him and several of his investments were flatlining.

And when you factored in his overhead costs—all those houses, employees, and cocktail waitresses—the bottom line revealed a man deep in the red.“He didn’t know how to handle the money,” says one of Reynolds’s oldest buddies, Dudley Remus, who had small roles in four of Reynolds’s movies.

We met in his living room, an airy, vaguely retro space anchored by an electric-blue rug, a mirrored wall, and two opposing white sofas. “I love it here so much.”If you were a young moviegoer in the early 1980s, as I was, you were pretty much compelled to take sides on the matter of Burt Reynolds.

He’s seated on the sofa facing away from me and toward a picture window that reveals his pool, his cabana, and his great lawn (which leads toward his boat dock, his helipad, and his private beach).“Burt Reynolds,” he says. From 1978 to 1982, he spent five straight years as Hollywood’s top box-office draw.

At his peak he was earning about million a year.

His real-estate portfolio included, in addition to Valhalla, a 153-acre ranch in Jupiter, Florida; a spread in Arkansas; mansions in Beverly Hills and Malibu; a Tara-like estate in Georgia; and a mountaintop retreat in the Smokies of North Carolina. So, when his business manager, Sandy Simon, suggested a promising investment opportunity, Reynolds didn’t sweat the small print—especially since he was partnering with his old friend Buddy Killen, a country-music mogul.

Reynolds’s devil-may-care candor proved refreshing—asked by Carson to describe his latest movie, he replied, “It’s a turkey. In 1977, his biggest box-office smash, If he deemed it a parody, the irony was lost on those who’d tired of seeing him run through groupies, starlets, and go-go dancers.