Burt Reynolds On His Money Woes

Actor says his life "could not be going better" despite facing foreclosure.

ByABC News
August 17, 2011, 10:24 AM

Aug. 18, 2011— -- In his heydey, Burt Reynolds was one of Hollywood's highest-paid and most-beloved movie stars. But as the 75-year-old actor has aged, his troubles have mounted.

In this latest round, Reynolds faces losing his 4-acre waterfront Florida estate to a mortgage lender seeking to collect $1.2 million. Merrill Lynch Credit Corp. filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the "Smokey and the Bandit" star Aug. 9, claiming he hadn't made a mortgage payment since Sept. 1, 2010, on his home in Hobe Sound.

"I am as surprised as everyone," Reynolds told ABCNews.com in a statement about the foreclosure action. "I thought my career and my life could not be going better. To all of the people who have had such faith in me and stuck by me through thick and thin, thank you. I know it is not the end of the world."

"There are a hell of a lot of other people worse off than I am, and my heart goes out to them," he added. "I will do like I've always done, keep my head up high and continue to move on down the road."

Despite Reynolds optimism, some say, the house is only the tip of the iceberg.

"He runs up bills and ignores them," a source familiar with Reynolds' financial state told ABCNews.com. "He owes millions of dollars to people. It's a sad state of affairs."

Merrill Lynch is asking a judge to order that Reynolds' home be sold to satisfy all debts, including a $750,000 second mortgage held by BankAtlantic, according to the suit obtained by South Florida's Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

The paper said the Mediterranean-style home, which has a swimming pool, private beach, boat dock, cinema and its own hair salon, is valued at $2.4 million. Reynolds put the 12,500-square foot home on the market in 2009 for $8.9 million but got no takers.

The source familiar with Reynolds' money problems claims the house is "falling apart" and "the land is what's worth the money."

If so, the house seems to be a reflection of Reynolds current financial state, which the source claims is also in shambles.

"Unfortunately, it's history repeating itself," the source said. "It sounds to me as if he's going to go bankrupt again."

The first time was in 1996, when Reynolds filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy following his messy divorce from actress Loni Anderson and failed investments in a Florida restaurant chain.

Reynolds originally purchased the home with Anderson, taking out a 25-year mortgage in 1994 for $1.5 million.

Burt Reynolds with Sally Field in "Smokey and the Bandit."

When he moved to television in the first half of the '90s he scored a hit with the sitcom "Evening Shade," winning his only Emmy Award.

But with success came lavish spending. The mustached movie star has had many run-ins with the Internal Revenue Service over the years. Until recently, he owed the state of California $225,000 in taxes going back to 1996, which put him in spot No. 247 of California's biggest tax scofflaws.

After bankruptcy, Reynolds made a comeback in 1997 with his role as a porn director in "Boogie Nights," which earned him a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination.

The comeback was shortlived. Reynolds, who came to fame with 1972's "Deliverance," was relegated to mostly guest roles and brief appearances in television and film.

A series of health problems has compounded his financial woes.

In 2009, Reynolds checked into rehab after he developed an addiction to painkillers following back surgery earlier that year.

"After a recent back surgery, Mr. Reynolds felt like he was going through hell and after a while, realized he was a prisoner of prescription pain pills," Kritzer, Reynolds' manager, said in a statement to People magazine. "He checked himself into rehab in order to regain control of his life. Mr. Reynolds hopes his story will help others in a similar situation. He hopes they will not try to solve the problem by themselves but realize that sometimes it is too tough to do on their own and they should seek help, as he did."

The following year, Reynolds underwent quintuple bypass surgery.

Once a sex symbol of the 1970s -- he posed nude for Cosmopolitan magazine -- Reynolds has tried to hold back time with plastic surgery and a toupee to cover up his hair loss.

Facing foreclosure, he's trying for one more comeback. He's filming the television movie "Reel Love" with country crooner LeAnn Rimes. The movie, in which he plays her father, is scheduled to air on CMTthis September.