Hollywood legend Burt Reynolds passed away on September 6, 2018, at the age of 82. “To simply say he was an iconic actor would be too confining – he was also a director, international superstar and proud Palm Beach County resident who supported our state’s film and television industry by attracting production and investing in the education of our Florida students,” said Film Commissioner Chuck Elderd. Mr. Reynolds was a longtime friend and supporter of The Palm Beaches Student Showcase of Films (SSOF), awarding a scholarship in his name for nearly two decades.
Burt Reynolds with the 2016 & 2017 Burt Reynolds Scholarship Finalists for SSOF
“The Burt Reynolds Scholarship became the pinnacle of the SSOF awards show. He clearly relished his time getting to know aspiring student filmmakers every year and honoring them on the SSOF stage,” said Deputy Film Commissioner & SSOF Executive Producer Michelle Hillery. Mr. Reynolds also offered educational opportunities for writers, actors and filmmakers at the Burt Reynolds Institute of Film & Theatre (BRIFT). “Burt was a mentor for many of PBC’s emerging talent through the Institute, and he was actively engaged right up until his final days with us,” said BRIFT Chairman Douglas Rill.
~Backstage at the 2018 SSOF~
Front Row: Burt, Michelle Hillery, and Howie Dorough (Backstreet Boys)
Back Row: Vanilla Ice, Chris Hayes, and Suzanne Niedland
For six decades, Burt Reynolds put us on the edge of our seats, made us cheer for the underdog and burst out laughing. Kenneth Spillias, The Palm Beach County Film & Television Commission Board of Directors Chair, commented, “To the world, he was an iconic movie star. To the friends he grew up with in PBC, he was Buddy. To his students, he was a mentor and an inspiration. The world will miss Burt Reynolds. And we in his home town will miss him most of all.”