Inside Burt Reynolds' Rocky Marriage to Loni Anderson: 'It Wasn't Lollipops and Roses'
Three years before his death, Burt Reynolds opened up about his contentious relationship from actress Loni Anderson
“I should have known that you don’t marry an actress,” the star said at the time. “It wasn’t lollipops and roses.”
Expanding on what tore the two apart in his memoir But Enough About Me, Reynolds wrote of Anderson, “She bought everything in triplicate, from every day dresses to jewelry to china and linens. ‘I never wear a dress after it has been photographed,’ she said. ‘I have to dress like a star.'”
He added, “I gave her a platinum American Express card with a $45,000 credit limit. She maxed it out in half an hour.”
How They Met
Reynolds and Anderson met in 1981 and began dating one year later. The two became a Hollywood power couple as they graced magazine covers and attended red carpets together.
In June 1982, The Longest Yard actor told PEOPLE, “Whether this relationship will go any further than it has right now, I have no idea. Loni and I are both trying very hard to get acquainted and to like each other without too many explosions and broadsides from the press.”
The couple married in 1988 during a top-secret ceremony at his ranch in Jupiter, Florida, which was documented by PEOPLE.
“I’m a very lucky man,” he said at the reception, which followed a 20-minute ceremony. “I’m surrounded by love and dear friends, and I married my best friend today.”
Anderson added, “I feel like Cinderella. I married Prince Charming.” The two later adopted their son, Quinton Reynolds.
Their Shocking Split
Despite building a family together, the tides in their marriage turned by June 1993 when Reynolds announced the pair’s shocking split.
His rep at the time announced the couple’s marriage was “irretrievably broken” adding that though Reynolds had “the highest respect and regard for Miss. Anderson… he feels his priorities and hers have become different.”
Lack of sexual relations might have also spurred the icon to file for divorce, he told Good Morning America: Evening Edition.
“I don’t see how she can be in total shock when you have not… if your husband has not touched you in the biblical sense… in almost three years,” he said. “How can you be surprised?”
In 2016, Reynolds revealed that while he might have believed marrying Anderson was a mistake, his mother, Fern H. Reynolds, thought so too.
“I remember when we got married, it was in a chapel I’d built specifically for our wedding,” he told Men’s Health at the time. “I was walking down the aisle, and Perry Como was walking with me.”
The actor said he turned to look at his mother he saw her “shaking her head ‘No'” at him.
“I didn’t pay attention, but my mom was always right,” he said.
The Ugly Divorce
Reynolds admitted to being involved with another woman — but only after becoming convinced that Anderson had been unfaithful first, he alleged to Good Morning America: Evening Edition.
“I caught her cheating on me,” he said. “And so I just… I made the decision to call it off.”
The actor hurled further insults, saying Anderson was an underemployed actress suffering from low self-esteem who was not a good mother.
Anderson kept mum on the allegations Reynolds made against her giving a simple, two-sentence reply of, “I do not intend to engage in a media war. I have to consider the welfare and best interests of my little boy.”
They divorce battle became so contentious that Reynolds’ close friend and personal photographer Lisa Smith even insulted Anderson’s cooking, saying the actress “only cooked nine or 11 times.”
Anderson didn’t open up about the divorce until 1995, when she accused Reynolds of physically abusing her at least a dozen times while he was allegedly under the influence of drugs in an interview with SFGate.
She also accused him of not always paying his $15,000 in child support on time. It wasn’t until 2015 that Reynolds finally wrote a $154,520 check that finally ended his divorce to Anderson, according to TMZ at the time.
Despite their bad blood, Anderson paid her respects to her late ex-husband shortly after his death, telling FOX News, “Quinton and I are extremely touched by the tremendous outpouring of love and support from friends and family throughout the world. Burt was a wonderful director and actor. He was a big part of my life for twelve years and Quinton’s father for thirty years. We will miss him and his great laugh.”
The One That Got Away
While Reynolds never married after divorcing from Anderson, he couldn’t forget the one love of his life that he never got a chance to make amends with.
When asked whether Anderson was the love of his life, he didn’t hesitate, saying Sally Field was the only lady who stole his heart.
“It was real. I really cared for her. She’s very, very special,” Reynolds said in a 2015 interview with PEOPLE.