Weekly News Roundup

September 7, 2018

Image: ABC News

Burt Reynolds, star of Smokey and the Bandit and Deliverance, dies aged 82

Burt Reynolds, whose good looks and charm made him one of Hollywood’s most popular actors as he starred in films such as Deliverance, The Longest Yard and Smokey and the Bandit in the 1970s and 80s, died on Thursday at the age of 82, his agent said.

At the peak of his career, Reynolds was one of the most bankable actors in the film industry, reeling off a series of box office smashes until a career downturn in the mid-1980s.

He rebounded in 1997 with a nomination for a best supporting actor Academy Award for Boogie Nights and won an Emmy Award for his role in the 1990-1994 TV series Evening Shade.

With his trademark moustache, rugged looks and macho aura, he was a leading male sex symbol of the 1970s. He appeared naked — reclining on a bearskin rug with his arm strategically positioned for the sake of modesty — in a centrefold in the women’s magazine Cosmopolitan in 1972.

Reynolds’s personal life sometimes overshadowed his movies, with marriages that ended in divorce to actresses Loni Anderson and Judy Carne and romances with others, including Sally Field and Dinah Shore. Reynolds also generated attention for financial woes and his struggles with prescription pain medication.

Reynolds cited director John Boorman’s Oscar-nominated 1972 Deliverance as his best film and said he regretted that the hoopla from his Cosmopolitan appearance detracted from the movie that made him a star.

He played tough-guy Lewis Medlock opposite Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox in the chilling tale of a canoe trip gone bad in rural Georgia.

He starred in dozens of films, also including White Lightning (1973), WW and the Dixie Dancekings (1975), Hustle (1975), Nickelodeon (1976) and Semi-Tough (1977). He was the top money-making star at the box office in an annual poll of movie exhibitors from 1978 through 1982.

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Ruby slippers used in The Wizard of Oz recovered 13 years after being stolen from museum

A pair of ruby slippers used in The Wizard of Oz and later stolen from a Minnesota museum have been recovered in a Federal Bureau of Investigation sting operation.

The operation was possible after a man approached the shoes’ insurer and said he could help get them back, the FBI said on Tuesday (local time).

The slippers were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in the late actress’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, when they were taken in 2005 by someone who climbed through a window and broke into a small display case.

The shoes were insured for $US1 million ($1.392 million).

The FBI said a man approached the insurer in last year and said he could help get them back.

Grand Rapids police asked for the FBI’s help and after a nearly year-long investigation, the slippers were recovered in July during a sting operation in Minneapolis.

The FBI said no one had been arrested or charged in the case, but it had “multiple suspects”.

Now the FBI is seeking the public’s help in finding the thief or thieves involved.

The slippers had been on loan to the Garland museum from Hollywood memorabilia collector Michael Shaw when they were taken.

Three other pairs that Garland wore in the movie are held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian and a private collector.

Rhys Thomas, author of The Ruby Slippers of Oz, called the slippers “the Holy Grail of Hollywood memorabilia”.

“They are maybe the most iconic cinematic prop or costume in movie history, and in fact, in cultural history,” Mr Thomas said. “They are a cultural icon.”

Thomas estimated that this particular pair could be worth between $US2 million ($2.785 million) to $US7 million ($9.748 million).

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Peter Dutton’s backers refused to leave Liberal Party members’ offices, demanded they reveal votes during spill

Fresh details have emerged about the “nasty” standover tactics employed by some of the Liberal “insurgents” as they tried to build support for Peter Dutton during their failed leadership coup last month.

Sources have told the ABC that during the “horrible, bruising week”, Mr Dutton’s backers would enter colleagues’ offices uninvited, and sometimes first thing in the morning, and refuse to leave unless they signed the petition to bring on a spill.

One MP said it was only after a “terse exchange” that their colleague agreed to leave.

But that pressure continued on the floor of Parliament where Mr Dutton’s supporters would target MPs during divisions and try and force them to add their name to the petition.

The then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had just raised the stakes in the leadership crisis by demanding to see a petition with 43 names on it — a majority of the partyroom — before he would pull the trigger on a spill.

The ABC understands Liberals were also told their preselection would be at risk unless they backed Mr Dutton’s challenge and, on the day of the spill, were pressured to show their — supposedly — secret ballot paper to another MP to prove which way they had voted.

One MP told the ABC that a specific colleague had been assigned to check their ballot inside the party-room meeting on the Friday.

Mr Dutton ended up losing the leadership ballot to the compromise candidate, Scott Morrison, 40 votes to 45.

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