Sally Field was never married to Burt Reynolds, but the late actor once referred to the actress as the “love of his life.” Reynolds passed away suddenly on Sept. 6 at age 82, and now a heartbroken Sally Field is recalling the couple’s fairytale romance that took place 40 years ago.
In a statement to Us Weekly, Field, 71, said she will never stop thinking about her ex-boyfriend and Smokey and the Bandit co-star Burt Reynolds.
“There are times in your life that are so indelible, they never fade away. They stay alive, even forty years later. My years with Burt never leave my mind. He will be in my history and my heart, for as long as I live. Rest, Buddy.”
Field met Reynolds on the set of the first Smokey and the Bandit film 1977 and they began a five-year relationship. The couple also co-starred in the 1978 films Hooper and The End, as well as Smokey and the Bandit II in 1980.
Burt Reynolds had a long list of romantic leading ladies. He briefly married Laugh-In star Judy Carne in 1963, and also dated singer Dinah Shore and tennis pro Chris Evert before marrying second wife, actress Loni Anderson. But his romance with Sally Field was magical. The couple split for good in 1982, but Burt Reynolds seemingly never got over Field.
In a 2015 interview with Vanity Fair, Burt Reynolds revealed he still missed Sally Field “terribly.”
“Even now, it’s hard on me,” the actor said. “I don’t know why I was so stupid. Men are like that, you know. You find the perfect person, and then you do everything you can to screw it up.”
After hearing about Reynolds’ declaration of his undying love for her, Field told People she had nothing to say about it.
“I have no response, really, and any response I would have would belong to him,” Field told the magazine.
That same year, Burt Reynolds told The Guardian that he reached out his ’70s sweetheart to tell her he still loved her and hoped to work with her again, but Field didn’t respond.
“You’d think after a guy says ‘I love you and I hope we can make another movie together,’ that you’d hear from them,” Burt told The Guardian in 2015. “But I never heard a word, so I guess I’m never going to hear.”
As recently as this year, Burt Reynolds was still talking about how Sally Field was his soul mate. In March, Reynolds revealed to Today host Hoda Kotb that Field was the love of his life. Reynolds also revealed that when he wanted Field to star with him in Smokey and the Bandit, producers tried to shut him down, telling him the wholesome actress was not “sexy.”
“I said, ‘You don’t get it, talent is sexy,'” said Reynolds.
You can see Burt Reynolds talking about his love for Sally Field in the video below.