Facebook has a zero-tolerance approach to nudity, but they recently had to bend the rules for one person: the late Burt Reynolds. After the Hollywood legend passed away Thursday at the age of 82, people were quick to honor his movies or the man himself. Others paid tribute by posting the famed nude spread he took for Cosmopolitan in 1972.
Initially, Facebook blindly treated the photos as though they were run-of-the-mill pornography, flagging them for violating their strict no-bare flesh rule. The Cosmo images have since been un-flagged and a spokesperson announced to EW that they had screwed up.
“The image in question was mistakenly removed,” the statement read. “We are restoring the image as it does not break our standards and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”
The original photo, with the actor spread over a bearskin rug, wearing only a smile, appeared in the magazine’s April 1972 issue. It was seen, and sold, as a triumph for equal opportunity horniness. A banner on the first page even screamed, “At last a male nude centerfold — the naked truth about guess who!!”
Reynolds agreed to the centerfold while guest-hosting The Tonight Show for an MIA Johnny Carson, when Cosmo editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown point-blank asked him to do it. The spread came relatively early in his stardom, when he was still an up-and-comer mostly known for Westerns like Navajo Joe, 100 Rifles and Sam Whiskey, as well as being a talk show regular. In fact, it came a mere three months before the release of Deliverance, the movie that was supposed to, among other things, prove he was a serious thespian. It’s possible posing in his birthday suit may have hurt his Oscar chances and sent his career down a different track than he anticipated.
Still, the aftermath was mostly positive. The picture took Reynolds next level, and it was his first major step into becoming one of the decade’s top superstars. But it did more than that. Proving that women liked to look, too, the image inspired one Douglas Lambert to found Playgirl, which launched one year later. And Cosmo occasionally returned to nude male spreads; in 1977 they did one for a certain muscleman and up-and-coming actor-of-sorts. His name: Arnold Schwarzenegger.