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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.

He owned a private jet, a helicopter, and numerous custom-made sports cars, among them a Trans Am used to promote Plus 150 horses. Just like that, the two pumped million apiece into a regional restaurant chain called Po’ Folks, whose down-homey southern fare could be had at 30 locations in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana.

“He thought it was going to be an endless stream of money. I’m in control.’ ”By 1996, his debts were such that CBS sued him for failure to repay a .7 million loan.

I’d say, ‘It’s not going to happen.’ He didn’t listen. He owed more to a raft of creditors and lenders that included Loni Anderson, two major banks, and all three marquee talent agencies—CAA, ICM, and William Morris, each of which had once represented him.

After an auction of many of his most iconic belongings, the Hollywood legend is back with a memoir about the famous people he worked with and loved.

Ned Zeman tracks the Bandit down at his Florida mansion for a discussion about his career, his breakups (including that one with Sally Field), and what really cost him the most.

This becomes clear the instant a burly blond man ambles into view. Reynolds’s guesthouse,” Todd says, in his genial way. Reynolds is up in the main house.”That’s up the road a piece. But I haven’t been somebody who’s been smart about his money.

Lately, his absence from public view has fueled doomsday reports. Although the book is largely a work of nostalgia—a valentine to those, including Bette Davis, Johnny Carson, Clint Eastwood, and Sally Field, who shaped his life and career—Reynolds agreed to talk about anything and everything for this article. I’m not even worried about it.”His eyes fix on someone outside; it’s a surveyor measuring the pool’s bar area for a group interested in buying Valhalla.“I don’t want to sell,” Reynolds says, softly.

Last year, after Reynolds auctioned off personal possessions—among them the 1998 Golden Globe award he won for his role in published this month by G. 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’d even stiffed a framing shop and his toupee-maker.

When Reynolds finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, in West Palm Beach, he listed .65 million in assets and debts totaling .2 million. Florida’s controversial homestead-exemption law protects resident homeowners from “levy and execution” by creditors. Over the next few years, he endeavored to act his way back to solvency.