Burt Reynolds Continues to Regret Cosmopolitan Centerfold

More Deliverance Oscar nominations and wins without it? Maybe.

Since we are at the height of film awards season, it seems appropriate to zero in on the following section of Ruth Huntman’s conversation snippets this weekend in The Guardian with actor, author and 80-year-old raconteur extraordinaire Burt Reynolds:

“I’ve always regretted posing naked for Cosmopolitan. People didn’t get that I had such a conceited look because I was sending myself up. It was just before Deliverance was released and it ruined the film’s Oscar chances.”

Reynolds gave a slightly different explanation for the facial expression last year at SXSW, suggesting it was because he was “zonkered” from some guzzled vodka. Famously, the April 1972 Cosmopolitan issue assignment came to Reynolds when he guest hosted The Tonight Show, as he recounts in his recent book But Enough About Me:

One night in early 1972, after Deliverance was in the can but before it was released, I was on The Tonight Show with Helen Gurley Brown, the longtime editor of Cosmopolitan and author of the best-selling book Sex and the Single Girl. During a commercial break, she invited me to be the first male nude centerfold of the magazine. …

Although no one had ever shown a naked man in a magazine before, Helen believed women have the same “visual appetites” as men, who’d been looking at naked women in Playboy since 1953. She wanted the same prerogative for women. It would be a milestone in the sexual revolution, and she said I was the one man who could pull it off. I found out later she’d asked Paul Newman first, but he turned her down.

Deliverance was nominated for three Oscasrs (Best Picture, Director, Editing), winning none. 1972 was the year of The Godfather and Cabaret, so it’s unlikely more nominations for Deliverance would have led to wins. At the Golden Globes end, it didn’t win anything either, but did better with five total nominations, including a Best Actor – Drama nod for Jon Voight and a nomination for the movie’s famous song, “Dueling Banjos.”

Four and a half decades later, an actor such as Casey Affleck can score a Golden Globe nomination and win, despite more naked truths. Reynolds’ centerfold appearance sparked the creation of Playgirl magazine and was followed by a similar Cosmopolitan spread in 1977 featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Photo via: Cosmopolitan

@hollywoodspin rhorgan@gmail.com Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.