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February 11: Happy Birthday Burt Reynolds and Leslie Nielsen

0211ReynoldsNielsen

Burt Reynolds is celebrating his 82nd birthday today.  After an injury during his sophomore year of college ended his hopes of a football career, Reynolds was encouraged to go into acting by an English professor.  By the early sixties he was working hard on television, most notably as Quint Asper for three seasons of Gunsmoke.  He also starred on a one-season crime drama on ABC, Dan August.

Reynolds began working in film in the sixties as well, but didn’t become a major film performer until about 1972, when he played the macho Lewis Medlock in Deliverance.  In the next few years he emerged as major box office draw in films like The Longest Yard and W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings.  In 1977 he had a huge success, starring in the biggest hit film of that year not to involve lightsabers.

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