Inside Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson’s Rocky Marriage, and Why Burt Wished He’d Married Another Famous Actress

Thu Aug 04 2022

Although he sadly passed away in 2018, Burt Reynolds is still remembered as one of the most famous men in Hollywood. Known as the ultimate leading man of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Burt found fame as a talented actor, a handsome bachelor, and a profitable businessman. However, the Burt that we saw on our screens and in newspapers wasn’t the same Burt in real life.

Despite his fame and fortune, Burt’s personal life was fraught with tension – especially during his marriage and subsequent divorce from Loni Anderson. Their tumultuous divorce lasted three times longer than their actual marriage, and many of his fans attributed this difficult time to his financial struggles and subsequent decline in health. In fact, they believe this would have all been avoided if Burt had only married the other woman he wanted to marry in the first place…

Burt Reynolds Became a Household Name in the 1970s, and Had No Trouble Winning Over the Ladies

Burt Reynolds first dipped his toe into the world of Hollywood during the 1960s, and while he scored a few roles here and there, it wasn’t until the 1970s that his career really took off. During this time he became known as the “loveable rogue” and scored major roles in movies like The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper, and more.

While it was obvious that he was a talented actor, nobody could also deny that he was a handsome new addition to Tinseltown. Even his college roommate Lee Corso remembered that Reynolds would “walk across campus and bring back two girls, one beautiful and one ugly; I got the ugly girl. His ugly girlfriends were better than anyone I could get on my own.” Despite this, Burt settled down pretty young.

After a Failed Marriage, Burt Schmoozed His Way Into the Hearts of Hugely Famous Actresses

Although Burt had the pick of the bunch in college, he got married fairly early on in his career. In 1963 he married English actress Judy Carne, but they had barely swapped “I dos” before they divorced again in 1965. During this time, Burt was still working on making his way up the Hollywood ladder, so he didn’t want a woman tying him down. By the time his divorce was finalized and the 1970s were in full swing, he went wild.

The ’70s saw Burt hook up with some of the biggest names in show business. From singers like Tammy Wynette to actresses like Farrah Fawcett, Reynolds was able to schmooze with the most famous women that Hollywood had to offer, and he made no secret of the fact that he enjoyed dating woman after woman. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1980s that he found someone else that he wanted to marry. Or so he thought.

In 1982, Burt Started Dating His Stroker Ace Co-Star Loni Anderson, and They Became the “It” Couple in Hollywood

As Burt continued to make a name for himself with the ladies during the 1970s, he also continued to make a name for himself with casting agents, movie producers, and directors. It was his talent and reputation that allowed him the chance to star in the 1983 action comedy Stroker Ace. For this movie, he worked alongside blonde bombshell Loni Anderson, and it wasn’t long before they started getting close off-screen, too.

The couple started dating in secret in 1982, as they didn’t want any of their co-stars to know that they were fraternizing behind the scenes. Nevertheless, their secret was revealed around the same time that the movie was released, and fans absolutely loved them together. They became the “it” couple in Hollywood, gracing magazine covers and attending red carpet events together. And while Burt was enjoying his time with Loni, he did have reservations.

To Begin With, Reynolds Didn’t Know if He Really Saw a Future With Loni, so He Decided To Take It Easy

Although Burt had been having fun fooling around with Hollywood’s elite and dating actress after actress, he didn’t know what to expect from Loni. After all, he had married an actress before and it hadn’t ended well. Did he really want to get serious with another famous actress? In 1982, Burt event confessed his reservations during an interview with People magazine.

He told the magazine that “Whether this relationship will go any further than it has right now, I have no idea. Loni and I are both trying very hard to get acquainted and to like each other without too many explosions and broadsides from the press.” However, as the months went by and the couple continued to deepen their relationship, Burt seemed to be won over.

Despite His Hesitations, Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson Got Married In 1988 In a Secret Wedding

In the end, it seemed as though Burt had made up his mind. After dating for just over five years, the couple headed off to a super-secret wedding ceremony at Reynolds’ ranch in Jupiter, Florida. There were only 65 guests allowed to attend the wedding, and the ceremony took just 20 minutes. But despite the secrecy, Burt seemed to be happy with his decision.

He told People shortly after the ceremony that “I’m a very lucky man. I’m surrounded by love and dear friends, and I married my best friend today.” Burt’s bride, Loni, also spoke to the magazine, stating that “I feel like Cinderella. I married Prince Charming.” However, they didn’t stay in this mindset for too long. As we all know, their marriage crumbled in 1994.

The Couple Adopted a Son and Seemed To Have the Perfect Life, but Cracks Soon Began To Show

Shortly after their wedding, Burt and Loni decided to adopt a son. Although Loni had welcomed a child previously with her first husband, she knew that Burt desperately wanted to be a father – and they made the decision to adopt. They welcomed Quinton Reynolds into their home and their hearts, and from the outside, the three of them seemed to have the perfect family.

Behind closed doors, though, things were not as they seemed. Although Quinton was the glue that was trying to keep Loni and Burt together, it was clear to see that their marriage was crumbling. Loni struggled to trust Burt thanks to his former Hollywood lothario ways, and Burt felt as though Loni was simply taking advantage of him and their marriage. Especially when it came to Burt’s wealth.

When Their Breakup Was Announced, Burt Tried To Keep Quiet About the Matter, but It Didn’t Last Long

In the end, they just couldn’t keep their marriage going. It was announced in 1994 that the two actors had parted ways, and a representative for Burt stated that their relationship was “irretrievably broken.” They also went on to note that Burt had “the highest respect and regard for Miss. Anderson” but that “he feels his priorities and hers have become different.”

Fans were shocked and saddened to hear that the Hollywood power couple were no longer, and they hoped that Burt and Loni’s silence on the matter meant that they would potentially be able to work things out and get back together. However, it turned out that Reynolds’ apparent silence and respect for his former wife didn’t last long. Before too long he was publicly bashing her and unleashing scandalous details about their marriage.

Burt Claimed That Loni Took Advantage of His Money, and That She Maxed Out All of His Credit Cards

Just a few weeks after their breakup announcement, Burt seemed to get a change of heart. Although he had previously refused to speak about the matter, he suddenly felt the urge to dish the dirt about his marriage and where it all went wrong. On more than one occasion, he claimed that Loni was simply using him for his money and that she would spend tens of thousands of dollars of his money in one sitting.

He even expanded on this in his 2015 memoir, But Enough About Me. In this, he wrote that Loni “bought everything in triplicate, from everyday dresses to jewelry to china and linens.” He also confessed that “I gave her a platinum American Express card with a $45,000 credit limit. She maxed it out in half an hour.” However, this wasn’t the only claim he made about his former spouse.

He Also Confessed That the Couple Hadn’t Been Intimate in Three Years Prior to Their Breakup

When asked who he thought was to blame for their breakup, Burt always pointed in the direction of his ex-wife. He claimed that she was the reason their marriage had begun to struggle, and she was the reason that their connection broke – especially in the physical sense. In his eyes, he knew their split was coming because they had not been physically intimate for three years prior.

According to reports, Loni was blindsided by their divorce, but Burt didn’t buy it. He confessed that “I don’t see how she can be in total shock when you have not… if your husband has not touched you in the biblical sense… in almost three years. How can you be surprised?” However, he maintained in his next claim that Loni wasn’t exactly celibate during their marriage.

Burt Confessed to Cheating on Loni… but Only Because He Reportedly Found Her Cheating on Him First

In addition to all of the other claims about his former wife, Burt also accused Loni of being unfaithful during their marriage. He himself admitted to cheating on her in spite after he discovered that she had cheated on him: “I caught her cheating on me. And so I just… I made the decision to call it off.” However, this wasn’t the end of his spiel. Burt had so much more he wanted to publicly say about Loni.

As well as calling Loni a big-spender and adulterer, Burt continued to insult her in the public domain, calling her an “underemployed actress with low self-esteem.” He also went one step further and criticized her role as a mother, stating that she wasn’t a good mom to their son and that she was just an all-around nightmare. Of course, all of this must have made its way back to Loni herself.

To Begin With, Loni Refused To Engage in This Media War and Decided To Keep Quiet About the Matter

As Loni listened to her ex-husband hurl insult after insult toward her in the press, there’s no doubt about the fact that she felt sad, annoyed, and angry. However, she didn’t respond and she decided to keep quiet. She didn’t want to find herself in a tit-for-tat situation, and she stated that “I do not want to engage in a media war. I have to consider the welfare and best interests of my little boy.”

Loni simply sat back and took the heat for a few months, and while many assumed that she would keep quiet until their divorce was settled, that ultimately didn’t happen. Their divorce took 22 years to be finalized, and Loni tried and failed to hold her tongue. In 1995, she decided to open up about her marriage to one of the most successful men in Hollywood, and she didn’t hold back.

However, She Then Let Loose and Accused Her Ex-Husband of Being Physically and Mentally Abuse

In 1995, Loni Anderson released her autobiography My Life in High Heels. And while fans assumed that she would open up about her marriage to Burt Reynolds within the pages, they didn’t expect her to reveal shocking information that changed everything. In this book, she accused her ex-husband of severe mental and physical abuse.

Loni claimed that Reynolds physically abused her around a dozen times while under the influence of narcotics – presumably the painkillers he became addicted to after being prescribed them when he was struck in the face with a chair while filming City Heat in 1984. Alongside this, she also claimed that Burt often refused to pay his $15,000 in child support on time.

Burt Reportedly Told Loni That Nobody Would Believe Her About the Abuse, Which Is Why She Kept Quiet

With such scandalous information under her belt, many people wondered why Loni Anderson didn’t speak up earlier about the alleged abuse she faced at the hands of her former husband. They questioned why she would first release this information in her book, and why she didn’t go to the police. However, her book explained why: “Burt always said no one would ever believe me because he was Mr. Wonderful and the world loved him.”

Loni had hoped that she would be able to speak more about her suffering after she was officially divorced from her ex-husband, but as the proceedings took so long she knew she couldn’t wait. However, it was Burt’s turn to go quiet when Loni made these revelations. When asked about the claims, Reynolds claimed that he had “no comment” and that “he wishes Loni nothing but the very best from this day on.”

Burt Managed To Finally Pay Off His Ex-Wife and the Divorce Settlement a Year Before He Passed Away

Unfortunately, the public back-and-forth between the two former spouses wasn’t the only thing that continued for weeks and even months after their official split. All in all, it took 22 years for Burt and Loni’s divorce to be finalized, as there were multiple disputes regarding finances – especially from Burt’s side. To this day, it’s still one of the longest divorces Hollywood has ever seen.

Much of the drama involved in their divorce proceedings revolved around money. While the actor was more than willing to pay to raise his son, he disputed much of the financial agreement involved in the divorce. He only managed to pay off his ex-wife in 2017, just one year before he passed away. And those close to him could see how much of a toll this financial situation took on him.

The Divorce Cost Him Everything, and He Ultimately Had To Declare Bankruptcy To Pay Off His Divorce Debts

All in all, Burt Reynolds’ divorce from Loni Anderson cost the actor almost every dollar he had. This was something that tore away at him throughout his life, as he was incredibly proud of the fortune that he had created and the businesses that he had invested in. Alongside his acting career, he owned a nightclub, a restaurant, a private dinner theater, a NASCAR team, and an impressive real estate portfolio.

Not only did Burt reportedly lose a lot of this money during his marriage thanks to Loni’s excessive spending, but he then lost even more during the divorce. In fact, at the time of his death in 2018, it was reported that his net worth was only around $5 million – a tiny portion of what his net worth should have been in terms of his success. In the end, he had no option but to declare bankruptcy.

Fans Believe That Burt Shouldn’t Have Married Loni, and He’s Said the Same Thing Himself

Towards the end of his life, it was clear to see that old age and his life experiences had taken their toll on Burt Reynolds. He was unwell and looked tired, and many fans put that down to the stresses he felt during his divorce and his financial struggles. Because of this, they believe that Burt should never have married Loni. Unsurprisingly, he’s said the exact same thing.

In 2015, Burt told People that marrying Loni “was a really dumb move on my part… I should have known that you don’t marry an actress… it wasn’t lollipops and roses.” But what makes this revelation even more surprising is the fact that Burt’s mom actually tried to warn him about Loni. She tried to stop him from marrying her, and she had some harsh words to say about her at the time.

Burt’s Mom Disapproved of Loni Even on Their Wedding Day, but Burt Chose To Ignore Her

In his autobiography, Burt spoke in more detail about his former wife and his relationship with his family. He wrote that his mom never approved of Loni and that she made this clear even on their wedding day. When Loni walked down the aisle, Burt’s mom shook her head in disapproval, “And I thought, ‘I don’t remember my mother ever being wrong.’ What should I do? It was a little too late.”

In the moment, Burt chose to ignore his mom in the hope that she was just feeling protective over her son. However, he soon realized that his marriage wasn’t the fairytale he hoped it would be. He came to regret ever calling Loni his wife, but not just because of his mom. In his heart of hearts, Burt was still in love with someone else.

The Actor Claimed That the Only Woman He Ever Truly Loved Was the Famous Actress Sally Field

A few years before his death, in 2015, Burt Reynolds opened up about the women he’d loved in the past. When People magazine asked whether Loni Anderson was the love of his life, he didn’t hesitate to shut them down. He confessed that Sally Field was the only woman he ever truly loved and that “It was real. I really cared for her. She’s very, very special.”

He also claimed that his former girlfriend Sally was the one who got away: “I miss her terribly. Even now, it’s hard on me. I don’t know why I was so stupid. Men are like that, you know. You find the perfect person, and then you do everything you can to screw it up.” And while Sally herself understood where Burt was coming from and shared the same longing for the part, she also believed that Burt was looking back on their relationship with rose-tinted glasses.

Burt and Sally Met in 1977 and Dated for Five Years, and Sally Claims That Their Relationship Was “Transformative”

Looking back, fans could see that Burt and Sally were happy together. They first met in 1977 when they starred alongside each other in the hit movie Smokey and the Bandit, and it was clear that their connection on-screen was just as strong as their connection off-screen. They soon started dating, and fans fell in love with them together.

Sally herself explains that their relationship was “transformative” for her: “I was only with him for about three years, and then maybe two years on-and-off after that. But it was so hugely important in my own existence, my own movement as a person.” But while Sally has fond memories of their time together, she has also come out with claims similar to Loni’s.

However, She Has Also Confessed That Burt Was Extremely Controlling When They Were Together

In her memoir, which was released after Burt sadly passed away, Sally Field wrote more about her experience with Burt Reynolds. She wrote that “By the time we met, the weight of his stardom had become a way for Burt to control everyone around him, and from the moment I walked through the door, it was a way to control me. We were a perfect match of flaws.”

Although she loved Burt and she found immense joy in their relationship, Sally “blindly fell into a rut that had long ago formed in my road, a pre-programmed behavior as if in some past I had pledged a soul-binding commitment to this man.” And while Sally felt safe and secure under his protective watch, she also found herself losing her identity in the process.

Sally Stated That Burt Made Her Feel Desirable but That She Began Living Her Life for Him Rather Than for Herself

In an interview with Closer Weekly after the release of her book, Sally explained their relationship further. She confessed that Burt made her feel incredibly desirable while they were together and that he “gave me a feeling that I was sexy, and I wanted to be everything he ever wanted.” However, this made her start to live for him rather than for herself.

She also revealed that Burt asked her to marry him many times: “What happened is that I stopped existing. I dressed for him, looked for him, walked for him. He asked me to marry him many times, [but] I knew his heart wasn’t in it. We’d have ended up just feeling terrible.” Of course, Sally was glad that she revealed all of this new information about their relationship after Burt had passed away.

Sally Was Sad To Hear of Burt’s Passing, but She Was Glad That He Wasn’t Around To Read Her Memoir

Like many people around the world, Sally Field was extremely upset when she learned that Burt Reynolds had passed away. They had shared countless experiences together and had previously shared a deep connection that transformed them both in many ways. However, she was glad that he wasn’t around when she released her memoir and spilled the beans on their relationship.

Talking about her memoir with the Times, she stated that “This would hurt him. I felt glad that he wasn’t going to read it, he wasn’t going to be asked about it, and he wasn’t going to have to defend himself or lash out, which he probably would have. I did not want to hurt him any further.” Sally wasn’t the only one of Burt’s former partners to speak out about his sad passing, though.

Despite Their Checkered History, Loni Anderson Was Also Sad To Hear That Her Ex-Husband Had Passed Away

Just as Burt Reynolds made a mark on Sally Field’s life, he also made a mark on Loni Anderson’s life. And while their marriage and divorce were fraught with tension, drama, and intense allegations, Loni was upset to hear that her ex-husband and the father of her son had passed away. She even paid her respects during an interview with FOX News.

In this interview, Loni stated that “Quinton and I are extremely touched by the tremendous outpouring of love and support from friends and family throughout the world. Burt was a wonderful director and actor. He was a big part of my life for twelve years and Quinton’s father for thirty years. We will miss him and his great laugh.”