In his 2014 autobiography But Enough About Me, Reynolds said his mother had Italian ancestry.

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To keep up with his studies, he began taking classes at Palm Beach Junior College (PBJC) in neighboring Lake Worth.

In his first term at PBJC, Reynolds was in an English class taught by Watson B. Duncan pushed Reynolds into trying out for a play he was producing, Outward Bound.

While working there, Reynolds met Joanne Woodward, who helped him find an agent, and was cast in Tea and Sympathy at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City.

After his Broadway debut Look, We've Come Through, he received favorable reviews for his performance and went on tour with the cast, driving the bus and appearing on stage.

In 1946, the family moved to Riviera Beach, Florida.

His father became Chief of Police of Riviera Beach, which is adjacent to the north side of West Palm Beach, Florida.His breakout film role was as Lewis Medlock in Deliverance (1972).Reynolds played the leading role in a number of box office hits, such as The Longest Yard (1974), Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Semi-Tough (1977), Hooper (1978), Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), The Cannonball Run (1981) and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982).From 1977 to 1981, Reynolds topped the Quigley Publications poll of movie exhibitors, who voted him the top box-office attraction in the country.Only Bing Crosby won the poll more consecutive years.After a string of box office failures, he returned to television, starring in the sitcom Evening Shade (1990–1994).