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A Look Back at Burt Reynolds’ 1996 Bankruptcy


Famed actor Burt Reynolds recently died. Known for his roles in the Smokey and the Bandit franchise, as well as his marriage to Loni Anderson, Reynolds also famously filed for bankruptcy in 1996. At the time, the news was shocking since Reynolds had been one of the most reliable Hollywood draws for decades. In fact, he had been ranked as the top box office draw for five straight years, from 1978 to 1982.

At his peak, Reynolds had a net worth around $60 million, which translates into $150 million in today’s dollars. His bankruptcy is vivid proof that anyone can fall into financial difficulty.

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Reynolds certainly did not leave his money in a bank account and forget about it! Instead, he spent massively, including:

  • Several mansions in Beverly Hills
  • Mansions in other states
  • A 160-acre ranch in Florida, complete with 150 horses
  • A private jet

But Reynolds’ worst investments were businesses he funded, often at the prompting of his business manager. For example, he invested in chain restaurants that went belly up and reportedly cost him up to $30 million.

Gambles that Didn’t Pay Off

By the time he married Loni Anderson in 1988, Reynolds’ net worth had fallen dramatically from its high point. He listed assets worth $15 million in his prenuptial agreement—a good sum that should have carried him off into old age.

Unfortunately, Reynolds made a gamble in the early 1990s that ended up costing him badly. When hired to star in “Evening Shade” television series, the actors asked CBS for a $4 million loan. His plan apparently had been to live off the loan and then, once the show went in syndication, to pay back the loan with royalties.

However, shows typically need 100 episodes before they can be syndicated, and CBS cancelled “Evening Shade” after it had made 98 episodes.

Without any syndication royalties, Reynolds found himself in financial trouble after CBS sued him for repayment of the loan in the mid-1990s. When he did not have the money to pay it back, he quickly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Why a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?

A Chapter 11 is like a Chapter 13 but for people with too many assets or too much debt. In this bankruptcy, you can come up with a plan to repay creditors without having to give up property. At the time he filed, Reynolds had assets worth $6.5 million but $11.5 million in debts.

The 1996 bankruptcy did not mark the end of financial troubles for Reynolds. His lender foreclosed on one property, and he was subsequently delinquent on his federal taxes. He even had to sell film memorabilia in 2014 to raise funds. By the time of his death, Reynolds had lost many of the assets he had purchased during his heyday.

Thinking about Filing for Bankruptcy? Call Us

Financial problems can hit anyone, even Hollywood stars. If you have questions about which bankruptcy is right for you, please call Nowack & Olson today, 866-907-2970. You can have a free consultation with one of our Plantation bankruptcy lawyers.




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