Aster-Obit: Burt Reynolds
On September 6th, 2018, noted actor Burt Reynolds suffered a heart attack and died at a Florida hospital. Reynolds was best known for his popular action films of the ‘70s and ‘80s, including “Smokey and the Bandit” and “The Cannonball Run”, but also received an Oscar nomination for his work in 1997’s “Boogie Nights”. During his heyday, Reynolds’ life was frequent tabloid fodder, with long-term relationships with singer and talk show hostess Dinah Shore, actress Sally Field (his co-star in the “Bandit” films) and TV personality Loni Anderson, whom he eventually married, then divorced.
Reynold’s acting career was something of an afterthought. He excelled at football in High School, later attending Florida State University on an athletic scholarship, but early injuries preventing him turning pro. His father suggested work as a parole officer, and in the course of his ongoing studies, Reynolds took an English course where his professor, Watson Duncan, urged him to try out for a play he was producing. Reynolds got the lead, and subsequently won the 1956 Florida State Acting Award, which included a scholarship to the Hyde Park Playhouse, a summer stock theater in upstate New York. There he met actress Joanne Woodward, who helped find him an agent, but despite favorable reviews in several Broadway plays, Reynolds was still not committed to acting as a profession, and knocked about for several years, doing odd jobs, until Hollywood beckoned.
He quickly landed continuing roles on “Riverboat” and “Gunsmoke”, two popular 1960s TV Westerns, and he capitalized on this success with his own series in 1970, “Dan August”, which only lasted one season. But his breakout role came as Lewis Medlock in 1972’s “Deliverance” , the story of four urbanites marooned and terrorized by the locals in the north Georgia woods. Reynolds’ simmering sensuality only increased his popularity, which boiled over after he appeared nude in a 1972 issue of “Cosmopolitan” magazine. This was followed by several midlevel successes before “Smokey and the Bandit” catapulted him to box office bonanza status in 1977.
At one point he was the highest-earning actor in America, but by the mid-‘80s his star was fading, and Reynolds, who had never really taken acting seriously, largely dropped out of sight. In 1996, despite his earlier earnings, he declared bankruptcy, partly due to his extravagant lifestyle and the divorce settlement with Loni Anderson. He enjoyed a brief resurgence in 1997 with director Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights”, for which he earned an Academy Award nomination, but failed to make the most of on this success. In 2018 Quentin Tarantino cast him in his upcoming film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, but Reynolds died before shooting his scenes.
An acting career may have come as a surprise to Reynolds, but an astrologer with a view to asteroids wouldn’t have been shocked at all. Born 12:10 PM EST on 11 February 1936 in Lansing, Michigan (Rodden Rating AA), Reynolds sports a conjunction of asteroid Actor at 2 Aquarius with Mercury (the voice) at 1 Aquarius, both on the 11 Aquarius MC, ruling career, status and one’s place in the world. Actor is the most elevated point in his chart, and it was Reynold’s vocal artistry when reciting Shakespeare in his class which prompted Watson Duncan to suggest acting. In his autobiography, Reynolds credits Duncan as his mentor and the most influential person in his life, so it’s no surprise to find asteroid Duncan at 6 Pisces, conjoined Saturn at 10 Pisces and squared Chiron at 10 Gemini, both noted for their teacher/mentor energies.
Also with career-ruling Saturn is asteroid Medlock at 17 Pisces, for Reynolds’ career breakout role as Lewis Medlock in “Deliverance”. Asteroid Lewis at 0 Aries sextiles Actor. Reynolds’ Oscar nod came as Jack Horner in “Boogie Nights”; asteroid Horne, for Horner, falls at 19 Gemini, in trine to the 21 Aquarius Sun and at station, turning direct four days before his birth, showing a vital role to play in his biography. With the Sun in square to asteroid Oskar at 18 Scorpio, had Reynolds been more serious about his profession, he might have done quite well in garnering accolades from his peers; as it is, he’s still in a very select group of Oscar nominees, if not in the more rarified class of winners.
Asteroid Reynolds at 12 Sagittarius conjoins the Descendant and opposes the Ascendant at 6 Gemini, a common placement for one’s own PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids), while also conjunct Jupiter, ruling fame and notoriety, at 19 Sagittarius, a sign that Reynolds was bound for great things. Reynolds’ birth first name is Burton, which asteroid appears at 26 Leo, opposing the Sun, another common PNA placement. There is also an asteroid “Burt”, which at 24 Libra is in trine to the Sun, and stationary, having turned retrograde two days after his birth. As with other such notables as Diana, Princess of Wales and actor Martin Landau, having a PNA referent at station is a powerful ally, which virtually guarantees notice and attention, if not always for the best of reasons.
Reynolds had a surprisingly tame Mars, for one whose sexuality was so prominent a part of his appeal, and whose love life so often made the news. At 21 Pisces, Mars is not exactly “manly” or assertive, and its opposition to Neptune at 16 Virgo, the natural ruler of Pisces, only reinforces this. The square to Jupiter at 19 Sagittarius may help to explain the aura of heightened sexuality woven into Reynolds’ mystique, or at least his presumably enhanced sex drive, and women may have reacted to the underlying feminine qualities of Pisces as to something familiar within themselves, or to its accent on mystical union, which may have permeated his love-making.
Reynolds’ private life was a continual source of public fascination, and his most noteworthy companions appear at pivotal places in his birth chart. Singer Dinah Shore, twenty years his senior, carried on a five-year relationship with Reynolds in the early ‘70s, just as his career was taking off. She is represented by asteroid Dinah at 23 Pisces, conjoining Mars, which suggests that despite the age difference, theirs was a relationship based in strong physical attraction; and by asteroid Shor (for Shore), which at 21 Aquarius is an exact match for his Sun, suggesting a close affinity and meeting of the minds between them.
Actress Sally Field was Burt’s next stop on the Conquest Express; their relationship coincided with the peak years of his career, which makes sense when we find asteroid Salli, for Sally, at 11 Aries exactly sextile the MC and asteroid Field at 14 Aquarius, conjunct the MC and also aligned with the Sun. Salli also squared Venus at 17 Capricorn, and Reynolds has referred to Field as “the love of my life.”
But it was TV actress Loni Anderson who finally snagged him, matrimonially speaking. With asteroid Andersen (homophone for “Anderson”) also at 23 Pisces, just like Dinah, we can see that Burt has a “type” (both women were blondes, as opposed to Field’s brunette locks). But the kicker is asteroid Lana, for Loni, which at 3 Sagittarius conjoins the 6 Sag Descendant, cusp of the Seventh House of partnerships and marriage. The pairing of Lana with natal Reynolds at 12 Sagittarius also suggests a union, though Anderson never took his name legally. The dark side of a PNA connected to Mars may be seen in Anderson’s allegations, during their brutal and highly public divorce, that Reynolds beat her on at least a dozen occasions. [As an aside here, note that Andersen also represents Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed Reynolds in his Oscar-nominated role in “Boogie Nights”, potentially revitalizing (Mars) his career.]
When Burt Reynolds died on September 6th, asteroid Burt at 10 Gemini combines with Nemesis, that point of self-undoing, at 12 Gemini and Lachesis, named for the mythic Greek fate who determines the span of life, at 4 Gemini. These square the Sun at 13 Virgo, pulling focus for the day, which itself is conjunct asteroid Requiem, named for the funeral mass for the dead, at 12 Virgo. This transforms into a T-Square when we consider natal asteroid Reynolds at 12 Sagittarius, squared the transit Sun and exactly squared transit Requiem, also exactly squared transit Nemesis. Asteroid Reynolds at 21 Sagittarius also squares the Sun, but is too wide to oppose Burt. But it does oppose Reynolds’ natal asteroid Rip at 18 Gemini, a point related to demise via its association with the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription.
Asteroid Burton at 9 Scorpio further reinforces the death theme, conjoined both transit Rip at 4 Scorpio and Atropos, named for the Fate who severs the thread of life at death, at 6 Scorpio. Burton also conjoins Jupiter at 17 Scorpio, ruling fame and celebrity, which squares both Reynolds’ natal Sun at 21 Aquarius and his natal Atropos at 20 Leo, while natal Burton at 26 Leo is exactly squared by transit asteroid Anubis, named for the ancient Egyptian deity ruling funerary rites, at 26 Scorpio. Additionally, Jupiter and Anubis both conjoin natal asteroid Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead, at 22 Scorpio. Finally, transit Burton is exactly sextile asteroid Actor at 9 Capricorn, which is stationary, about to turn direct on September 7th, the day after his death.
Burt Reynolds may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but he was undoubtedly a cultural phenomenon of the 1970s and ‘80s, justly famed as exemplifying the spirt of the times. From that “Cosmo” splay-out to his “Bandit” persona, Reynolds captured the mood of the post-sexual revolution, pre-AIDS America, carefree, indulgent and just a bit naughty, bushy moustache and all.