With his wry grin, thick moustache­ and thicker chest rug, Burt Reynolds was one of the biggest sex symbols of the 1970s. By his own admission the Smokey and the Bandit star, who was one of the decade’s highest paid actors, hopped from bed to bed, dating beauties from Farrah Fawcett to Goldie Hawn.

But the medallion man image quickly went out of fashion and just as the serial womaniser was rumoured to be have Aids, his career nosedived.

Looking back as he releases his autobiography­, But Enough About Me, an older, wiser Burt can see why so many people leapt to the wrong conclusion.

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He even said the Two And A Half Men star “deserved” to get the virus . He’s been in trouble a lot and seems to revel in the women he’s bedded, I didn’t like that at all,” says Burt.

“ "How can you feel good about yourself when you’ve got yourself into this mess?

“My heart goes out to his father, Martin Sheen, whom I love very much. We worked together – he’s a terrific actor and a terrific guy.

This must be just tearing him apart.” Burt knows how HIV and Aids brings the glare of publicity, even when, in his case, he hadn’t contracted the virus.

After breaking his jaw while performing a stunt in the early 1980s, he developed a painful joint problem which meant he couldn’t eat.

He lost a lot of weight and, as a result of the rumours, lost a lot of friends, though celebs like Elizabeth Taylor and Clint Eastwood stood by him.“A lot of those friends who turned their backs were a pain in the a** too,” he says.“I also knew some people who had Aids and I had a whole different kind of respect for them after what happened.I tried all I could to help them.” Long before Burt earned his womanising­ reputation, he was a Hollywood wannabe and much more cautious with the ladies .Born in Michigan, he spent his teenage years in Florida, before moving to New York in the 1950s to make a name for himself in theatre before quickly getting signed by the Hollywood studios.Once there he struck up a fleeting friendship­ with Marilyn Monroe, already a huge star.