TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – People around the world are grappling with the death of Burt Reynolds, and the legendary actor’s Florida roots make his passing especially tough for many in the state’s Capitol.
The original home that Reynolds once owned no longer stands on its lot in Tallahassee, but the actor’s impact on the city is still felt in the air.
“He was a giver,” Florida State University President John Thrasher said.
Reynolds, who graduated from the university in 1958, never forgot his alma mater.
“His early days here and the reputation that he established as an incredible movie star and all the other things he did, really helped put FSU on the map,” Thrasher said.
Reynolds played two seasons on the FSU football team, which were both cut short by injuries. After going into acting, Reynolds continued supporting the team.
“When he built Reynolds Hall for the athletes, back I guess in the ‘80s, that was a big contribution back then,” Thrasher said. “He bought uniforms at one time for the athletes.”
But Reynolds’ greatest focus always remained focused on FSU’s theater and film programs, where he often returned to teach students.
“He would come and do master classes,” said Paul Cohen, the executive director of the FSU Torchlight Program. “I mean, literally, (he would) stay for weeks at a time. He was enormously generous and giving and kind with his time.”
Cohen, a film professor at the university, spoke from the Toronto Film Festival.
Reynolds also has a plaque in the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in the state’s Capitol. He was inducted in 1993.
FSU officials said ideas of how to commemorate Reynolds on campus are currently in the works.