Reynolds, Hollywood's No. 1 box office draw from 1978 through 1982, finally touched financial bottom Dec. 2, his multimillion fortune gone. He listed approximate assets of $6.65 million and debts of $11.2 million owed to creditors (see chart), ranging from the IRS to the outfit that keeps him in plausible hairpieces. "I have a lot of pride," says Reynolds, 60, "and filing Chapter 11 tears me apart."
In the '70s and early '80s the roguish good ol' boy was riding high with such hits as Deliverance, The Longest Yard and Smokey and the Bandit, and amusing himself with a helicopter and jet, mansions in California and Florida and a 160-acre Florida ranch. But for all his charm and talent, the ex-stuntman, onetime Cosmopolitan centerfold and son of a former Riviera Beach, Fla., police chief floundered when it came to managing his career. In 1982 he turned down a part in Terms of Endearment, and the role went to Jack Nicholson, who won an Oscar for it. After that, apart from a 1990 best actor Emmy for CBS's Evening Shade, he went hitless and began popping up on programs like Perry Como's Christmas in Hawaii.
Nor was Reynolds much for making his money grow. Investments in two Florida-based restaurant chains cost him nearly $20 million. His 1994 divorce from Loni Anderson also stung: He pays the mortgage on her $1.3 million California home (and $15,000 a month in child support for their son Quinton, now 8). In October, CBS sued him for $3.7 million plus interest for a loan he hadn't fully repaid.
Reynolds has been working in low-budget, made-for-TV movies and as a supporting player in higher-profile films like the current Citizen Ruth and last summer's Striptease (for which he earned about $200,000). But with eight projects in production or development, he hasn't lost the swagger that helped launch his career. "I've had this financial monkey on my back for six years," says Reynolds, who has four months to draft a plan to reduce his debts. "I'm working my tail off so I can pay everyone back. I owed $14 million. I've paid $5.5 million back already—I'm proud of that. I've risen above adversity before, and I'll do it again."
MARC BALLON and MICHELE KELLER in Los Angeles and DON SIDER in West Palm Beach, Fla.
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