AJC archive photo: George Clark

That time ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ blew up an Atlanta roller coaster

Remembering Burt Reynolds, who has died at 82 

Actor Burt Reynolds, who has died at 82, leaves a vast film legacy, but will forever be known for his roles in the Georgia-filmed “Smokey and the Bandit” adventure flicks.

He and co-stars Sally Field, Jackie Gleason and others were here in 1976 for the original and again in 1980 for the sequel. It was at the end of Smokey II that a roller coaster known as the "Greyhound" at the old Lakewood Fairgrounds was blown up as part of a sensational scene.

According to “The History of Lakewood,” the wooden roller coaster was designed by John A. Miller. In operation from 1915 to 1974, it was partially rebuilt in 1956. It had been sitting idle for a few years before being used for the movie explosion scene.

Fittingly, the site is now home to the EUE/Screen Gems studio complex, where movies including the Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther” have filmed.

These photos from AJC archives captured the action:

AJC archive photo: Jerome McClendon
Burt Reynolds' birthday was Feb. 11. On that day in 1980 he was filming "Smokey and the Bandit II" in Atlanta so he and Sally Field and others on the set enjoyed a celebration with birthday cake. AJC archive photo: Jerome McClendon
Burt Reynolds in his trailer during the filming of the original "Smokey." Check that shag carpet. AJC archive photo: George Clark
Stuntman/director Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds on the "Smokey 2" set. Fittingly the property is now home to EUE/Screen Gems, where movies including the Marvel blockbuster "Black Panther" have filmed. AJC archive photo: Jerome McClendon
Go, Greyhound. According to “The History of Lakewood,” the wooden roller coaster was designed by John A. Miller. In operation from 1915 to 1974, it was partially rebuilt in 1956. It had been sitting idle for a few years before being used for the movie explosion scene. AJC archive photo: Jerome McClendon