Burt Reynolds The Naked Truth

Buurt Reynolds Cosmo Cover 1972

If the Cosmo girl was a sex symbol for the 1970’s, it was Cosmo’s first centerfold Burt Reynolds who became the decades male sex icon.


Anticipation was more than just a popular song by Carly Simon in 1972. It was the collective breathless feeling of suspense opening up the April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and seeing an actual  male movie star naked. From teenage girls like myself to PTA Housewives, female pulses were set racing at the sight of a mischievous grinned,  mustachioed stud splayed out nude on  a bearskin rug.

The provocative words on the red banner that ran across the magazine cover screamed out  “Cosmo’s famous extra bonus take off! At last a male nude centerfold! The naked truth about Guess who?”

Burt Reynolds broke a taboo turning this movie star into the stratospehere of celebrity.

It’s hard today to comprehend the magnitude of this seemingly simple act. One would be hard pressed to find a woman of a certain age today whose heart did not race gazing at that “risqué” centerfold longingly.

And lustfully. Though regretfuully  it was never revealed how Burt was “hung,” his visage hung in countless teenage bedrooms, untold number of dorms rooms, and festooned avocado refrigerator doors across the country.

Helen Gurley Brown, the spunky editor of Cosmopolitan saw it as a victory for women whose “visual appetites” had been ignored by male magazine editors.

Tonight’s the Night

It all began on an ordinary  night in early 1972 when Reynolds guest-hosted the Tonight Show for Johnny Carson.  Helen Gurely Brown was his guest. During a conversation she suggestively asked the good-looking Reynolds if he would pose for her magazine  He said yes.

It was a novel idea. Women had been centerfolds for ages but it had never been done featuring a man.

Burt Reynolds Cosmo Centerfold 1972

The centerfold would be shot in March by Francesco Scavullo the famed photographer who shot most of Cosmo’s covers. Reynolds posed laying on his side on a bearskin rug wearing nothing but a sly grin, his own head of hair  and a cigarillo in his teeth. The naughty grin might well be attributed to the boatload of vodka he later admitted to consuming to get him through the shoot.

Helen Gurley Brown clearly was onto something. The issue sold out immediately. Others would follow in time but none came close to Burt’s popularity. His place in the Hall of Fame of Sex Symbols was sealed.

The centerfold gave a healthy boost to Cosmo’s circulation and it made Reynolds a sex icon. And fueled a generation of girls fantasies.

Rest in Peace Burt.



  1. bernesemtdog

    You and I are the same generation. I remember all the hoopla around this issue. My mother, the Roman Catholic, was horrified. My best friend’s mom was a huge fan of Burt so she bought the issue. She tried to hide it from her daughters (my friends), but they found the magazine and we spent a good amount of time just staring in awe of the image, with our jaws on the floor. As young girls our imaginations ran wild. Ha-Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard to explain to a millennial who is exposed to so much more than we ever were just how racy and controversial this centerfold was. Now we see the same sot of image n advertising and just flip by the pages.


      • bernesemtdog

        It’s so true! I can recall a time when I was in high school. My friends and I were at a sleep over at our best friend Lori’s house. Lori’sr mom had stacks of Cosmo magazines in her bedroom (she was divorced single mom – scandalous for the time). All of us girls were gathered in her mom’s bedroom with Cosmo mags strewn about us. All of a sudden, we heard her mom’s car pull into the driveway and we jumped up, scrambling to put the magazines back in the closet, making sure to put them in the right order. We finished just in the nick of time. Her mother enters the bedroom and says, “Hey girls! What are you watching?” Full disclosure: we had no idea. The TV was on as background noise. So each and every one of us blurted our a different TV show simultaneously. Her mother pursed her lips and said, “Mmmhmmmmm. What are you really up to?” We said, “Nothing.” in unison. I don’t know if she ever figured out that we raided her Cosmo mags but it sure was a funny story to tell to those who couldn’t make the sleep over. I’m sure it is hard for today’s generation to understand just how scandalous Cosmo was back then.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting back story! I remember that event well! Facebook is removing this pic. I read that he later regretted doing the shot. Hmmmm. Wonder if he requested that FB remove it so he’s remembered more for his acting.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. He has a great smile ……………. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that story of the sleepover sneaking a peek at Cosmo! So scandalous!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Ask Me What I Am | The Hits Just Keep On Comin'

  6. Pingback: Burt Reynolds The Naked Truth — Envisioning The American Dream – The Blog of King-Galaxius

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: