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Arts & Culture

Burt Reynolds brought Buffalo to the big screen in 1982's 'Best Friends'

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Screen shot from "Best Friends," filmed in Buffalo.

As the world mourns the loss of Burt Reynolds, Buffalo residents can look back knowing the city played a small part in his long acting career.The charismatic acting legend died Thursday morning at the age of 82 at a Florida hospital following a heart attack.

Wildly popular for his performances in films like "Deliverance," “The Longest Yard” and “Smokey and the Bandit, Reynolds also starred in a film that was shot and partially took place here in Buffalo—1981’s "Best Friends," co-starring Goldie Hawn.

"I think we've been in Buffalo long enough," Reynolds said in the film. "I'm cold. I started getting cold in Arizona."

Buffalo Niagara Film Commissioner Tim Clark said it was a big deal at the time to have a Hollywood movie shooting in Buffalo. Reynolds was at the height of his career at the time and then-Mayor Jimmy Griffin visited the star during filming.

"He actually went to the set and met with Burt and Goldie, I believe, and chatted with them," Clark said, "They were very gracious and so was he about meeting and sort of extending greeetings from the citizens of Buffalo."

Retired Buffalo News Arts Editor Jeff Simon reviewed the movie when it came out. He remembers the film making good use of some of the city's landmarks, including the Peace Bridge and old train station.

"The way the whole Central Park area of Buffalo looked in the movie - which I thought was kind of wonderful, actually, I thought it looked pretty good, you know - and that's kind of sweet," Simon said. "We weren't used to Buffalo being filmed in a way that makes us look so inviting."

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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