Published on: June 1, 2011

Hollywood legend BURT REYNOLDS has been crippled by a tragic hip problem that has left one leg shorter than the other – forcing him to wear a thick platform sole on the shoe of his right foot.

These shocking photos, taken May 9 in Toronto on the set of his latest movie, show the devastating impact the deformity has had on the 75-year-old actor – who is in danger of losing his ability to walk, say sources.

Burt – once the leading box-office action star, known for doing his own stunts – has been told by doctors he urgent­ly needs two new prosthetic hips. But he has delayed the procedure for so long that the pain in both hips has become excruciating – and friends fear it might cause him to spiral back into a deadly booze and prescription pill habit.

His condition is exacerbated by an old back injury that is also painful.

“Physicians have been warn­ing Burt for years that the day will come when he needs to undergo double hip replace­ment surgery,” an insider told The ENQUIRER.

“But being a stubborn, macho guy, Burt ignored their warnings until he collapsed from the pain of carrying his own weight.

“Now the problem has got­ten so severe that doctors are warning him he’s at risk of losing his ability to walk,” re­vealed the insider. “They even suggested he use a motorized cart to get around, but he’s too vain for that.”

Today, Burt is a shadow of the athletic screen hero who starred in such comedy classics as “Smokey and the Bandit,” “The Cannonball Run” and “The Longest Yard.”

The surgical procedure doctors want to perform will relieve pain and fix severe joint damage.

In February 2010, Burt un­derwent lifesaving, quintuple bypass heart surgery. And just a few months before that, he waged a brave battle against alcohol and pain pills at a rehab facility.

 As he walks it’s clear he is in pain, taking each step slowly and with great effort.

“Burt has to wear specially designed ortho­pedic shoes – one with an extremely thick sole – that act as cushions when he walks,” said the source.

The hard-driving actor refuses to go under the knife until sometime this summer after completing his new TV movie, “Reel Love,” a romantic comedy with LeAnn Rimes, now filming in Canada.

“He has high hopes it will put him back on the map in Hollywood,” said the insider. “Burt joked to a friend, ‘I’m going to be on that set if I have to crawl there!’ ”