Burt Reynolds: 1936-2018

One day in a Raetihi antique shop actor Burt Reynolds handed owner Patrick Turner a cellphone so that he could talk to Clint Eastwood.

It was 2003 and De Line pictures was making the film Without a Paddle in the Waimarino town. Raetihi was dressed up to be a rundown timber town in the United States, where three schoolfriends made a river trip to look for lost treasure.

"It was one of the wonderful times for Raetihi when they did the film here," Turner said.

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On rain days the film crew were based in the Theatre Royal next door to his antique shop. The stars were three young actors, and Reynolds was playing "mountain man" Del Knox.

The actor liked antiques and the shop had good cellphone reception. He used to come in most mornings and wander around, talking to the US on a phone the size of a brick, and pointing out things for his young manager to buy.

Turner was chairman of Raetihi Promotions at the time, and the group had not long finished renovating the Theatre Royal. Under its floor they found 200 old film posters.

Turner put five posters showing Reynolds up on the wall before his arrival.

"He thought that was fantastic."

One of the posters was a gigantic one of Dirty Harry, which starred Clint Eastwood. Reynolds told Eastwood about it, then put Turner on the phone to talk to him. Turner told Eastwood he would give him the poster.

Patrick Turner kept a file on actor Burt Reynolds' time in Raetihi. Photo / Stuart Munro
Patrick Turner kept a file on actor Burt Reynolds' time in Raetihi. Photo / Stuart Munro

There was a long silence. Then "God damn," said Eastwood. He later sent Turner a thank you letter.

Reynolds bought a lot from Turner's antique shop, and the crew borrowed items for the movie. Reynolds was staying in Ōhakune, in the Powderhorn Chateau, and steered clear of meeting the public.

"The town was obviously very pleased with having him. He would've had a great reception if he had decided to come out."

The film took over the town. There were about 70 extras and drivers, some utes with left-hand steering and new shop signs painted. The Theatre Royal got a coat of latex paint, to "scruffy it up".

Once the shops were paid $2000 each to stay closed, so filming could take place. Another time the crew wanted a pig running down the main street.

"They started it off at one end, by feeding it. It got into the theatre and we had to round the bloody thing up and get it out so it would carry on," Turner said.

Without a Paddle came out in 2004, and was not popular. It got an average rating of 3.9 out of 10.

Bio

He was first a television actor in Gunsmoke and Hawk, then got into movies with the role of Lewis Medlock in Deliverance.

His box office hits include Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He married twice, and also had relationships with Sally Field and Dinah Shore.

He was a big football fan, according to Wikipedia, and owned nightclubs and restaurants. His lifestyle was extravagant. He suffered a injury while filming and was made bankrupt in later life.

He died aged 82.