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AIDS RUMOR TURNED FRIENDS INTO DESERTERS, ACTOR RECALLS

Burt Reynolds says many good friends deserted him in the mid-1980s when rumors circulated that he had AIDS.

The problem was that an injury suffered during the filming of a movie left him unable to eat and unable to tolerate sound or light. "I got hit with a chair filming `City Heat,' hit hard on my temple," Reynolds says in an interview in Parade magazine.He spent much of the next two years bedridden in a dark room with Loni Anderson, now his wife, attending him and fearing that his career was finished. "And then the rumors started," he says. "The AIDS stuff, the gay stuff. . . . Then all the wonderful comedians joked about it - nice people like Joan Rivers, who really went after me. I was incredibly hurt. But what amazed me were the friends who abandoned us."

Reynolds says one person who devotedly stuck by him was Johnny Carson, despite a reputation for being aloof.