Dr. Ruth and Burt Reynolds in 1984, takin’ phone calls from viewers and talkin’ ’bout “Good Sex”

By on November 8, 2017

On December 13, 1984, diminutive dynamo sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer (she’s just 4′ 7″) had a chat with the famously-mustached macho movie star Burt Reynolds on the Lifetime channel’s “Good Sex” TV show.

Reynolds answered questions and helped field phone calls from viewers watching at home during the episode — it also features the actual TV commercials that aired during the original cable TV broadcast — which you’ll now find streaming on Night Flight Plus!

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“I have to tell you, Burt,” Dr. Ruth tells Reynolds at the top of the show, “… that since you are the sexiest man in the country, it makes perfect sense for you to be on my show.”

The good-natured, occasionally boisterous Reynolds — who jokes throughout the episode, flashing his sly smile, giggling with that unmistakable laugh of his — tells her that he doesn’t know if he’s the “sexiest” man in the country, but that maybe he was in the “top ten.”

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Reynolds explains that he always chews gum to help strengthen the muscles in his jaw (he broke it while performing a stunt in the early 1980s, developing a painful joint problem which made it difficult to eat).

When Dr. Ruth asks him if he ever chews gum while making love, Reynolds tells her no, because it might get in his girl’s hair (he’s careful to then point out that he meant the hair on her head).

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One of the highlights comes later, when a male caller from Salt Lake City phones into the show, asking Burt Reynolds to name, out of all of the memorable movies that he’d done , which had a “non-sensual or non-sexual scene” that was his favorite.

The caller seems to be expecting him to name a love scene with one of the many actresses he’d actually had love affairs with off-set, but Reynolds throws the caller off a bit when he names 1972’s Deliverance.

He adds, “There’s something very sensual about going down the river and knowing that we could drown at any moment, and the relationship between your partner in the front of the canoe and you was a very sensual feeling, and that relationship between the four of us in the movie is still very strong.”

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When Dr. Ruth is asked later if she’d given any advice to the sex symbol Reynolds, she reportedly said “No, he gave me advice!”

As we mentioned in this previous Night Flight blog post announcing we’d added Dr. Ruth episodes to Night Flight Plus (from at least five different TV shows she’d had on the Lifetime cable network in the 1980s), we consider Dr. Ruth one of our extended Night Flight family members, like an awesome open-minded aunt or maybe even Night Flight’s cool older sister.

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“Good Sex with Dr. Ruth Westheimer” — filmed at Lifetime’s Astoria Studios — was first launched as half-hour 10pm weeknight show on the Lifetime network earlier in 1984.

With the help of famous special guests, the TV show helped to extend the topic of people’s sex lives to the outer boundaries of popular culture.

An entire generation in this country grew up embracing her Ruthian ethic of sexual honesty, learning that it was healthy for people to speak openly and explicitly about their sex lives.

Read more about Burt Reynolds and Dr. Ruth below.

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By the late ’70s, and certainly at the time of this interview, swarthy Burt Reynolds was ones of Hollywood’s most virile movie stars, with the power to get movie studios to greenlight a movie simply on the strength of his star power alone.

Reynolds had famously turned down the chance to play both James Bond and Han Solo (in the first Star Wars blockbuster), preferring to portray likeable good ol’ boys instead, like his leading roles in John Boorman’s Oscar-nominated Deliverance, or characters he played in The Longest Yard (1974), Hustle (1975), Smokey and the Bandit (1980), The Cannonball Run (1981), and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982).

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Right around the time of Deliverance, he’d also famously posed nude on a bearskin rug for a memorable centerfold spread in Cosmopolitan, wearing only a mustached smile, which may have been one reason Dr. Ruth wanted to have him on her couch, all to herself (although her always-smiling co-host Larry Angelo was there too, of course).

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Ruth K. Westheimer had already lived quite a life — she was even an actual sniper! — by the time she’d earned her Masters degree in Sociology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research and her Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in the Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University Teacher’s College.

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After work for Planned Parenthood led her to study human sexuality with Dr. Helen Singer-Kaplan at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center, she became an Adjunct Associate Professor.

Dr. Ruth subsequently college-level courses at famous universities — including Princeton and Yale — and became a nationally-recognized pioneer in “sexual literacy,” all before she helped advance the field of Media Psychology with her late-night fifteen-minute radio show “Sexually Speaking,” which began in September of 1980.

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That show later expanded to a live, two-hour radio show, and gave listeners the opportunity to call-in to ask questions.

She later transferred this successful formula over to TV shows for the Lifetime cable network, including “Good Sex with Dr. Ruth Westheimer,” among others.

Watch Burt Reynolds on “Good Sex with Dr. Ruth Westheimer” — and other episodes featuring Night Flight’s good friend and cool sibling Dr. Ruth Westheimer — over on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.