They were two of the sexiest stars of their era but Ocean’s 11 siren Angie Dickinson, never seriously dated Burt Reynolds, her costar in the 1969 western Sam Whiskey.
“We went out a few times but it was not a real romance, nor it was it destined to be,” Dickinson, 86, tells PEOPLE. “Either I was with someone else or he was. We got along great and we really enjoyed being together but that would have just gotten in the way.”
Dickinson has many fond memories of the screen legend who died on Sept 6 at age 82.
Their film, Sam Whiskey, was notable for what Reynolds called their “nude scene.” “We literally broke the bed,” says Dickinson with laugh.
About eight years ago, she teased him about it at a birthday party, where his pals swapped stories about Reynolds. First, she says, his Deliverance costar, Jon Voight, shared a memory about getting ready for a scene. “Jon Voight was working away on their canoe, and he said ‘Hey Burt, get over here. What are you doing?” And Burt told him, ‘I’m practicing for my close up,’” recalls Dickinson. “And when it came to my turn, I said ‘Happy Birthday, Burt, and don’t forget we broke the bed!’”
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“I think Burt made us feel like one of us, as opposed to John Wayne, who was bigger than life,” she says. “He had the failings, and the good things, of us average people. John Wayne was not one of us and Burt was not like John Wayne, he was like Brad Pitt. Very comfortable with us common folks. He was just one of the gang.”
“He had a real side, a ‘normal life’ side,” says Dickinson. “And he was delicious.”
The actress recalled how Reynolds confided in her after his 1982 breakup with Sally Field. “It was after we’d done The Tonight Show and we talked afterwards in his dressing room, and he was very open about hurting. He was in agony over that,” she recalls. “He couldn’t hide it. He was that wounded.”
“Usually we want to hide our pain,” Dickinson reflects. “And I don’t think he was interested in hiding anything. He was very very free with his laugh, and he was free with showing his emotions, and showing his pain when they broke up.”
“Burt was complex,” says Dickinson, “and anyone who is complex is more difficult. We know he had his demons but when you got him right, he was glorious and one of the funniest men I was ever around.”
They last spoke about three weeks ago and Reynolds told her he was coming to Los Angeles soon and wanted to see her. “He said, ‘I hope I’ll get to see you’” she recalls. “We didn’t make specific plans but I was looking forward to seeing him.”
“He sounded not really strong, but not to where I was alarmed that he sounded frail,” she recalls. “He sounded just fine, and god bless him, he had a great run and he gave us such joy.”