The Burt Reynolds Museum
No, it’s not another one of my crazy ideas. This place actually exists. And I went there yesterday.
I find myself in Jupiter, Florida this week on business. When I visit a new town, I always try to get a taste of the local culture. Lo and behold, it turns out Jupiter is home to the Burt Reynolds & Friends Museum. I had to go.
It’s every bit as narcissistic and wonderful as it sounds. When I opened the front door, I entered a world full of so much Burt Reynolds memorabilia I could hardly believe my eyes. It was like I’d won the Burt Reynolds Golden Ticket and I didn’t even have to purchase multiple copies of Striptease to get it. All I had to do was make a three dollar donation to get in.
This place is crammed with everything anyone has ever given Burt Reynolds. Every award. Every photo. Every key to every city. Every honorary Sheriff’s badge. Every poster. Every movie script. A horse-drawn carriage (minus the horses) given as a gift by Dolly Parton. The canoe from Deliverance. And creepily detailed paintings made by Burt Reynolds fans. One shows Burt riding shirtless on a horse, with a big furry dog in his arms. I can’t imagine why Burt wouldn’t want that one hanging up in his home.
A screening area shows non-stop footage of Burt’s late night TV talk show (from the 80s? 70s?). According to Pat and Kate, the nice volunteers who work at the museum, they would be showing a montage from Deliverance instead, but they can’t get into the back room where they keep that tape. They were very nice, and they shared this little bit of trivia which they encouraged me to share with my friends: When the Coors logo appeared on the poster for Smokey and the Bandit, it boosted Coors’ sales enormously, especially on the East Coast. When Smokey II was coming out, the producers offered Coors a product placement deal on that poster, but Coors turned it town, feeling that they got enough of a boost the first time around. But Budweiser stepped in when Coors didn’t, and that’s why Burt is holding a can of Budweiser on the poster for Smokey and the Bandit II.
Sadly, the museum is in danger of being closed down. The Jupiter City Council, which owns the building, is considering kicking them out in favor of turning the building into a scientific research institute. So plan your trips now, while you still can. And consider purchasing one of the Burt Reynolds coffee mugs or t-shirts in the gift shop, to support the museum. One more thing to know before going: It’s kind of hard to find the museum, but if you can manage to get to Burt Reynolds Park, it’s practically right across the street.
Bonus: If you can’t make it in person, do yourself a favor and head over to the museum’s website and click on “video clip” for a montage of Burt’s greatest scenes set to Don Williams’ classic song “If Hollywood Don’t Need You (Honey, I Still Do).” It’s the next best thing.