There's two quick explanations for folks over 30 who don't associate the name Jerry Reed Hubbard with "When You're Hot, You're Hot," "Lord, Mr. Ford," Guitar Man," "Amos Moses" and "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)." For some, you can say he's the truck driver in the Smokey and the Bandit films. For others, just bring up Bobby Boucher's ornery coach from The Waterboy ("you're fired!").
Those pop culture reference points cover just one-third of Reed's filmography. Here's a quick top 12 list culled from his IMDB filmography. It skips over such tv shows as the New Scooby-Doo Movies and Mama's Family episodes co-starring Reed.
12. High-Ballin' (1978)
You'd think the presence of big rigs and Peter Fonda would be enough to at least crack the top 10. It's not with this script. While Reed and others flounder with limited material, the film at least provides something of musical value. The Canadian-filmed production features footage of a couple of homeland country music staples in Myrna Lorrie and the band Prairie Oyster.
11. Hot Stuff (1979)
Reed, frequent Burt Reynolds collaborator Dom DeLuise and Bob Newhart's TV wife Suzanne Pleshette play inept cops who've become targets of the mob. It's not a blight on comedic filmmaking or anything, but Reed probably didn't sell more records by attaching his name to the project.
10. What Comes Around (1985)
Reed's lone directorial credit comes from this dark comedy about a country star, saved from addiction and a dishonest manager by his younger brother and a bumbling ambulance driver. It's a predictable yet charming b-movie, made entertaining by a strong soundtrack and scenes shot at the original Cracker Barrel location in Lebanon, Tenn.
9. The Waterboy (1998)
For fans of a certain age, Conway Twitty's part of a recurring gag on Family Guy, and Reed is Red Beaulieu, the coach from Adam Sandler's The Waterboy. It's good that they're remembered, no doubt, even if both portrayals paint a very limited picture of an all-time great country talent.
8. W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975)
Reed's film debut began a longstanding work relationship with Burt Reynolds. It also allowed him to ease into big-screen acting with a familiar role. His character, Wayne, leads a country music band through a series of calamities. Mel Tillis and Don Williams also appear in the film.
7. Concrete Cowboys (1979)
This TV movie co-starring Reed and Tom Selleck follows two ruffians who're mistaken for Nashville-area detectives. Their search for a missing singer, played by Morgan Fairchild, brings the guys in contact with Roy Acuff, Barbara Mandrell and Ray Stevens. Reed reprises his role for a short-lived 1981 television series, with Dallas' Geoffrey Scott replacing Selleck.
6. Gator (1976)
Reynolds played ex-con Gator McClusky in a pair of violent and exploitative films, beginning with 1973's White Lightning. In this sequel, Reed's amazingly named character, Bama McCall, is tied up in small-town corruption that Gator tracks down and snuffs out.
5. The Survivors (1983)
In this dark comedy, characters played by the legendary Walter Matthau and Robin Williams get tied together after witnessing an attempted robbery. Reed plays the robber (and hitman) in one of the highest profile roles of his career.
4. Bat*21 (1988)
A career dominated by comedies includes this serious film depiction of the historic Rescue of Bat 21 Bravo. Reed shares the screen with two superstars: Gene Hackman and Danny Glover. It's not as memorable as some of Reed's lighter films, but it ranks high because it's awesome to watch him act in a very different kind of role.
3. Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983)
Reed gets higher billing, with Reynolds only appearing in a cameo, for the final chapter of a great comedic trilogy. While he does a fine job here, Reed plays a secondary role yet again, this time to Jackie Gleason.
1a. and 1b. Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)
It would be hard to differentiate Reed's first two performances as the Snowman, Cledus Snow, so let's cheat and lump them together. He's great as a supporting actor in two blockbuster films that might've been even bigger if they hadn't hit theaters the same years as Star Wars (A New Hope) and The Empire Strikes Back.
Plus, it's hard to separate Smokey and the Bandit from the Atlanta-born country singer's "East Bound and Down."
This story originally ran on May 18, 2018.