I've interviewed scores of Hollywood stars, but I never took them at anything more than face value, especially Burt Reynolds. I never guessed the truth behind this model of masculinity, whose virile mustache has lit a fire in the dreams of countless lovelorn. But who would have guessed that his mustache hides a pretty pout? Who would have guessed that Burt Reynolds, manly star of Cannonball Run and Sharky's Machine, lives like a princess?
When I pull into the driveway of Burt's oceanfront mansion, I expect to be greeted at the door by Burt and perhaps be offered a beer. Instead, I'm escorted down chandelier-lit hallways by a wigged man in a frock coat and tights, who explains to me in hushed tones that certain preparations are still being made. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a chamber filled with bustling attendants, running to and fro in a storm of perfume and hairbrushes. In the center of the room sits a figure in a silk corset whose face is hidden from me. I am moved along.
As I wait in the garden outside, I enjoy the blooming roses and the rushing water of a splendid fountain. I sip peppermint tea, and cool garden breezes caress my skin. But these luxuries are quickly forgotten as the air is filled with the dulcet soprano voice of Burt Reynolds, singing softly.
After a rustle of petticoats announces his appearance, Burt steps into the garden. Resplendent in a pink velvet gown, he extends a bejeweled hand. "Enchanté," he whispers, and we sit in the shade of a spreading magnolia.
"I'd like to show you something," he says, pulling a flower from an ornate golden case. "This is a magic blossom—with one sniff, you can smell what anyone in the kingdom is cooking! Would you believe I got it from a swineherd for 10 kisses?" We both laugh over this charming anecdote. But when I ask about his past, Burt grows solemn.
"I had three older sisters who hated me, for I was the prettiest child," he says. "They made me slave away in the kitchen, and called me names. Horrible names, like 'stupid goose' and 'scullery girl.' I longed to escape from that life, and with the financial success of Smokey and the Bandit, I did."
"I am happy," he says, with a touch of sadness in his voice. "But sometimes I wonder what the world is like beyond my garden wall."
After gifting me with one more lovely song, Burt regretfully announces he is retiring. I join him half an hour later in his private bedchamber.
He begins to thank me for coming, but is distracted by some sort of discomfort. Even with a dozen mattresses piled on his canopy bed, he cannot relax. Melancholy swells from his pretty eyes as he weakly tosses and turns. Suddenly, his problem becomes clear to me. I carefully reach underneath the mattresses and pull out a single pea.
Gratitude floods Burt's face, and he allows me to kiss his hand before he sinks into slumber. I am led to the front gate, where a carriage awaits me. I am filled with sadness at leaving Burt Reynolds, and I find myself wishing I could stay with this precious soul in his castle by the sea forever.