Long time fan, Kathy Banfield, is hoping to honor her favorite movie star (and ours) in a very
special way. She recently contacted the Institute to let us know that she is championing a
Reynolds Acts of Kindness Day to honor Burt Reynolds on his 80th birthday. Her letter is
reprinted below. Please join us in giving this unique gift to the man who has given us countless
hours of entertainment during the last 55 years:
REYNOLDS ACTS OF KINDNESS DAY
By Kathy Banfield
Every year I attempt to find a unique way to celebrate Mr. Reynolds’ birthday – a way which
shows him how much he is loved and appreciated. For five years, I’ve administered Facebook’s
Burt Reynolds: Fans and Friends page, and in that time numerous people have told me stories
proving that Mr. Reynolds’ impact on his fans goes beyond the thousands of hours of enjoyment
brought by his films. Many people – the famous, the average, friends and fans alike – have
shared stories that are heartwarming and, yes, amazing. I am among those people.
On February 11, 2016, Mr. Reynolds will celebrate his 80th birthday. To honor him, I am hereby
decreeing (unofficially, of course) February 11th to be "Reynolds Acts Of Kindness Day." The
concept is simple. I am asking that everyone whose life has been positively impacted by Mr.
Reynolds pay it forward by doing a random act of kindness for someone in need. Perhaps, you
know someone who is alone and lonely – pick up the phone/knock on their door/say “Hello.” Do
you know someone in need of groceries or transportation to the doctor – buy bread, milk, eggs
(something nourishing) or offer to give them a ride. Mow the lawn. Take out the trash. Walk
their dog. Little things do mean a lot to a lot of people.
Not only will your kindness be reflected in the eyes of the people you help, it will be a wonderful
way to honor Mr. Reynolds and show him how he has impacted the lives of people all over the
globe. This is a gift that needs no other wrapping than a smile!
Please share your Reynolds Acts Of Kindness on social media using the hashtag
#ReynoldsActsOfKindnessDay. Thank you.
- Kathy Banfield
PALM BEACH GARDENS AUTHOR PENS CRIME NOVEL WITH NOT SO HIDDEN MESSAGES
PALM BEACH COUNTY LOCATIONS PROVIDE BACKDROP FOR TRUE CRIME CHRONICLE
By Donna Carbone
Donna M. Carbone, a freelance writer/teacher/journalist living in Palm Beach Gardens,
has been writing and winning awards since the third grade. In April of this year, she was honored by The Black
Academy of Arts and Letters with a performance of her play, Shell of a Man, at the Dallas Convention Center.
Locally she has written an opinion column for a northern Palm Beach County publication for four years and her
name is often seen in guest editorials for another recognized north county newspaper. She was a Scenemaker of
the Week in the Palm Beach Post in 2012. More often than not, her topic of choice is crimes against women and
the need to take responsibility for personal safety in a troubled world. She often references the rape of her daughter,
Jessica Carbone McKinney, in 2007 as proof that she knows what she is talking about. Wanting to reach a wider
audience, Carbone decided to write a series of crime novels using real events, colorful characters and Palm Beach
County as focal points. The first in her series of Cat Leigh and Marci Welles crime novels, Through Thick and
Thin, is available in paperback and for Kindle through amazon.com.
In a recent interview, Carbone admitted there is a method to her madness. She wants to keep women safe, to teach –
not preach –about shared accountability. She also hopes to restore some of the respect to local law enforcement
which has been lost in the onslaught of negative publicity. “When Jess was so brutally attacked, it was the
involvement of the North Palm Beach Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office that restored
our faith in mankind. Without the guidance of these men and women, I don’t think we would have survived the
ordeal mentally and emotionally intact. I know there are “bad” people in every walk of life, but I do believe that the
majority of officers take their oath to protect and serve very seriously.”
Carbone offered a teaser to whet readers’ appetites. When long-time friends Cat Leigh and Marci Welles become
partners in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Division, the pairing seems preordained. Although
written under one title, Through Thick and Thin is actually two distinct books. The prologue and epilogue, set in
2006, cover the tracking and capture of the Kalendar Killer who murdered five people in public places under brutal
circumstances on national holidays. The main portion of the book, set in 2007, see Cat and Marci responding to the
scene of a possible murder on a closed beach. They discover that the victim is a lifeguard who was loved by many
women and hated by many more. The investigation reveals that, at least, 800 women have been laid and played by
the victim and each is a willing subject in a book his ex-wife has written about her years of marriage misery. At the
same time, a series of rape/murders takes over the headlines. As Cat is a rape survivor, her perspective is a valuable
part of the investigation. The book is based on the real life friendship between two strong women, my daughter (Cat
Leigh), and the other the CSI, Mary Bedwell Bain (Marci Welles), who helped to capture Jess’ attacker.
With a twinkle in her eyes, Carbone added, “As many people know, I’ve been the Managing Director of the Burt
Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre for quite a few years. I purposely set Through Thick and Thick in 2006
so that I could use the Burt Reynolds Museum as a location and allow it to play a part in solving some of the
crimes. After all, you can’t write about Florida and, in particular, Palm Beach County, without mentioning Burt
The second Cat Leigh and Marci Welles crime novel – Silk Suit/Stone Heart – is in the works. Carbone is also
developing a new stage play, The Intersection of Lincoln and Parks, which presents a meeting between Rosa
Parks and Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, Abraham Lincoln’s great grandson and last direct descendant.
For more information, visit: www.writeforyoullc.com or contact Donna M. Carbone at email@example.com.
Photo: Donna M. Carbone
Credit: Jessica Carbone McKinney
Book Jacket: Donna M. Carbone
Credit: Jessica Carbone McKinney
Check out our e-shop at www.burtreynoldsinstituteapparel.org and purchase awesome items for you and/or your loved ones! Great gifts for you, your family, and friends!
ORDER YOUR COPY OF BURT'S MEMOIR NOW!
This memoir tells his story through the people he’s encountered on his amazing journey. In his words, he plans to “call out the assholes,” try to make amends for “being the asshole myself on too many occasions,” and pay homage to the many heroes he has come to love and respect.
But Enough About Me is a must read for each and every Burt Reynolds fan.
If you have not yet ordered your copy of Burt Reynolds’ memoir, But Enough About Me, orders can be placed at www.amazon.com/But-Enough-About-Me-Memoir/dp/0399173544.
SPECIAL DELIVERANCE: A 44 YEAR ROAD TRIP COMES FULL CIRCLE
By Donna Carbone
William Shakespeare is credited with having said, “The wheel has come full circle.”
Thanks to a genuine act of kindness during a rare and recent hometown concert, Hollywood
actor/songwriter/singer Ronny Cox came to understand the truth behind old Will’s words. For
you, the reader, to appreciate their meaning, we must go back in time a quarter of a century.
Sean Dillon was eight years old when the Hollywood blockbuster Deliverance was
released. He estimates that another 10 years passed before he actually saw the film. By then, the
shock value was gone. He knew the story and had heard descriptions of the rape scene many
times. It wasn’t the controversy surrounding the movie that caused him to finally watch it on
television but rather an interest in the folklore and the ethical dilemma faced by the characters.
He was impressed by their ability to harness the depth of courage needed to survive and
fascinated by their ability to not only restrain but completely suppress any pangs of guilt they
may have felt for their role in the death of other human beings.
As fate would have it, a few years after seeing Deliverance, Sean was making ends meet
by working in the Vroman’s Bookstore across the street from the Pasadena Playhouse. When he
heard the Playhouse was holding an auction, he decided to wander over during his lunch hour
and see what items were being offered. Much to his surprise, the guitar that Cox had played in
the film was on display. Although the bid Sean placed was meager by some standards, it was
enough to make him the new owner.
Over the next 25 years, Sean did a lot of traveling in pursuit of his dreams, sometimes
taking the guitar with him and other times entrusting it to family members. He saw the
instrument as an interesting piece of Hollywood history which he would bring out to show his
friends from time to time. He never actually played a tune on it until recently when he had
repairs made to the damages suffered during filming.
As most movie buffs know, Deliverance is the story of four Atlanta businessmen who
decide to commune with nature by taking a canoe trip into extremely rural northern Georgia. All
goes well until treacherous white water rapids drop the foursome into the remote backwoods far
from civilization as they know it. Upon meeting the locals, an uncomfortable tingling sends their
nervous systems into overdrive. They grow suspicious and wary, quickly recognizing that in this
world of predator and prey, they are the prey.
Ronny Cox is a consummate storyteller. He is not one to hog the spotlight but, rather,
prefers to share it with his audience. On one particular Friday, he shared an hour of his time with
me, speaking in a rush of words quite the opposite of the soothing melodic voice I hear when
listening to him sing. He was in California. I was in Florida. We were connected by telephone
wires, but as he spoke, I felt myself drawn across the miles. Somehow, I was sitting right beside
Cox was a struggling New York stage actor when he was cast in Deliverance. The year
was 1971 and, along with Florida’s favorite son Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight and long-time friend
Ned Beatty, he was chosen to bring author James Dickey’s novel to life on screen. Picture in
your mind the scene where Cox is playing guitar opposite the young banjo player sitting on the
porch. Hold that image for that is where this story actually begins.
Director John Boorman chose Cox to embody the mild-mannered Drew Ballinger, a
sensitive man who was also an inexperienced outdoorsman. Both those qualities would prove to
be Ballinger’s undoing. After days and nights fighting an unwelcoming wilderness and its
inhabitants, Ballinger falls into the fictional Cahulawassee River and drowns.
In doing my research for this article, I learned a little known but interesting trivia tidbit.
When the body of Drew Ballinger is found near the end of the film, his arm is twisted around his
neck in a manner not natural to the human body. That scene was not written into the script. Cox,
who has double-jointed shoulders, suggested the positioning to Boorman, which confirmed
further for the director that he had, indeed, hired the right actor for the role.
Luckily, as the fictional Ballinger was going under for the third time, Cox’s star was
rising. With total sincerity, he told me, “The movie changed my life in so many ways.”
When asked how the guitar came to be offered for the Playhouse fundraiser, Cox said that
he was performing at the theater at the time and so was aware of their need for financial support.
Since the guitar had been gathering dust in his house since production on the film wrapped, he
decided to give it to them. He did not realize the emotional impact giving the guitar away would.
When Sean Dillon placed his bid, he gave little thought to why Ronny Cox had parted
with the guitar although he did consider the donation an extremely generous and unselfish act.
He never viewed the instrument in terms of monetary value, especially since it was inexpensive
by comparison to other brands of guitars and not in perfect condition.
Fast forward to September 2015. Sean is now an Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at
the University of La Verne in La Verne, California. While surfing the net one day he learns that
Cox will be giving a concert with his son, John, at the Crown Book Store in Topanga Canyon.
Appearances such as this were rare for Cox. His concert schedule is heavy with travel dates and,
as a result, he rarely performs in his home state.
The wheel had nearly made a full revolution.
Sean and his wife attended the concert. They brought the guitar along in the hope that
Cox would autograph it for them. At the end of the performance, Sean approached the man of the
hour and asked if he recognized what he proudly held in his hands. “Sure,” Cox said, “that’s the
guitar from Deliverance.”
A back and forth of conversation followed during which Cox revealed the significance of
the guitar in his life and his regret at having given it away. Much to Sean’s surprise, Cox asked
to buy the guitar back from him even offering to double whatever he had paid for it.
Since the successful release of Deliverance, Ronny Cox has appeared in a wide variety of
productions, including Beverly Hills Cop, Total Recall, Taps, Bound For Glory and The Onion
Field on the big screen and Apple’s Way on television. He rounds out his resume as an extremely
talented musician... a singer/songwriter with eight CDs under his recording belt. Although he
loves acting, music speaks to his soul. He brings a warm feeling of intimacy to his concerts,
never shutting himself off from the audience but rather embracing them and including them in
When I asked Sean Dillon if Deliverance was in some way responsible for his career
choice, he was honest in saying “No.” He admitted to being an amateur movie maker at a very
young age; his 8mm camera never far from his reach. He also talked about teen angst... that
feeling of not belonging so many adolescents experience... and how working in theater while in
high school helped to give him confidence. For him, it was a natural transition to pursue a
Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre and a Masters of Fine Arts in Directing—degrees which
allowed him to share his experiences and talents with his students.
It was also quite natural for Sean Dillon to return the Deliverance guitar to its original
owner without monetary compensation. To him, the guitar was an important part of both film
and music history but he did not have an emotional connection to it. To Cox, however, it
represented the first day of the rest of his life. Sean was happy to be the catalyst for the reunion.
Ronny Cox was kind enough to share some details of his life with me. Born into a family
that loved music, he was calling square dances by the time he was 10 and began playing guitar,
including Texas Swing, in his early teens. While attending Portales High School in New Mexico,
he sang with the school’s choral group which led to his being hired to sing backup on records for
producer Norman Petty. Cox fondly recalled how Clovis, New Mexico, was a hot bed of
recording during the late 1950s and early 1960s and how living just a few miles away allowed
him to be around when Buddy Holly was cutting Peggy Sue and Jimmy Bowne and Buddy Knox
recorded Party Doll just to name a few of the great recording artists of the time. With rock and
roll gaining increasing popularity, he fronted his own band—Ron’s Rock Outs. In college, he fell
in love with folk music and it has been his mainstay ever since.
When queried, Cox assured me that the Deliverance guitar now holds a place of honor in
his home. Standing as sentinels on either side of his living room hearth, it joins the guitar he
played in Cop Rock as a focal point in the room and his life.
Not only do guitars symbolize Ronny Cox’s deep love for music and storytelling, they
also remind him of the many wonderful people he has been privileged to know during his
amazing career including one of my personal favorites, Burt Reynolds. The Deliverance guitar,
in particular, will forever remind him of how a simple, unselfish gesture can brighten the world
and bring our lives full circle.