Burt Reynolds Got Acting Start Right Here in the Hudson Valley
If it wasn't for the Hudson Valley, Burt Reynolds may not have become the legendary actor he was.
The world is mourning the loss of Burt Reynolds, who passed away on Thursday from a heart attack at the age of 82. As many look back on the actor's impressive career, spanning over five decades on the stage and screen, Reynold's humble beginnings in the theater can be traced back to the Hudson Valley.
The Independent recalls Reynold's 1956 residency at the Hyde Park Playhouse as the beginning of the actor's journey to stardom. After a car injury thwarted his dreams of becoming a professional football player, Reynolds turned to acting. He was offered the lead role in a play at Palm Beach Junior College. That performance landed him the 1956 Florida State Drama Award, which included a scholarship to the Hyde Park Playhouse.
The playhouse was located across Route 9 from the Vanderbuilt Mansion in Hyde Park. The building eventually burned to the ground in the late 1980s.
While spending the summer in Hyde Park, Reynolds honed his acting skills, starring in a production of Tea and Sympathy. This was when the legendary actor decided to take his craft seriously. Reynolds enrolled in acting classes and eventually made his Broadway debut in 1961.
The rest, as they say, is history.