Some say that falling in love boils down to timing, and that was definitely the case for country music superstar Reba McEntire and her boyfriend of three years, CSI actor Rex Linn.
Though the two first met almost 30 years ago, romance didn’t blossom for the two entertainers until early 2020…and during the pandemic, to boot. But through bonding over their similar upbringings in Oklahoma, a passion for food and being each other’s biggest fans, they have been going strong ever since.
Here the surprising and sweet ways Rex Linn courted Reba — and the secrets to their success.
How Rex Linn and Reba meet?
McEntire and Linn met in 1991 while they both were working on the Kenny Rogers movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw. “Reba is so sweet about it. She always says we met working on a movie,” Linn recently told Southern Living.
“This is how we were working on it. She was co-starring with Kenny Rogers and I had two lines and one day of work. On a horse that I rode into a saloon and go, ‘Yee Haw!’ I love how she tells everybody though, we were ‘working on a movie together.'”
At the time, McEntire was married to her manager Narvel Blackstock, with whom she shares a 32-year-old son, Shelby. Blackstock and McEntire two divorced in 2015 after 26 years of marriage, and she then dated Anthony “Skeeter” Lasuzzo from 2017 to 2019. But through it all she and Linn drifted in and out of each other’s lives like ships in the night.
The two reconnected when McEntire was filming an episode of Young Sheldon, the popular CBS sitcom where Linn portrays the local high school principal.
“We kept in contact over the years, we both know the same people,” McEntire shared during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen in November 2020. “So it was just like good friends getting back together and having dinner…then we started texting and talking on the telephone and getting to know each other better during the quarantine.”
What was Rex Linn and Reba’s first date like?
The couple discovered they had a lot in common. McEntire is a proud Okie, raised in Chockie, Oklahoma and Linn was born in Texas, but moved to Oklahoma when he was a child. They both love rodeo — she was a barrel racer and he was a team roper.
They both love music, and of course, acting has been a huge part of both their lives. When they reconnected on Young Sheldon, Linn asked McEntire out to dinner, but actually thought she was still dating her previous boyfriend and expected her to bring him.
“The last time I had seen Reba, the year before, she was dating someone,” he shared with Southern Living. “So I actually thought her then-boyfriend was going to be with her. I had no idea…I didn’t know it was a date at the time, like everybody else did, but I sure had a good time and I sure am glad I went to dinner.”
How did Rex Linn and Reba fall in love?
Although a relationship looked promising, life got in the way. McEntire’s mother passed away and the world shut down due to the pandemic. McEntire was living in Oklahoma while Linn was still in LA. The couple spent time getting to know each other better through texts and phone calls and when Linn decided to take it up a notch, he says he decided, “the best way I could flirt with Reba was to send her good food.”
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well it turns out, it’s a pretty good way to court a cowgirl too.
His first gift was the famous beef tenderloin from Perini Ranch Steakhouse out of Buffalo Gap, Texas, a culinary delight that Linn’s brother had introduced him to because he loved it and knew brother Rex would as well. The tasty treats continued as Linn sent Joe’s Stone Crab from Miami as well as Cajun food, ice cream from a shop in Santa Barbara, and pecan pie from Goode Company in Houston.
As pandemic isolation gave way to the world returning to normal, McEntire and Linn were able to share meals together in person and have become a thriving couple.
“If you’re lucky and fortunate enough to find someone and fall in love with someone who has the same interests and the same ideals you have, and happens to be from the same part of the country, it means a lot,” Linn said to Southern Living. “It’s funny because Reba and I talk about our childhoods all the time, and they are identical. I mean I grew up in a little, bitty town, Spearman, Texas, in the panhandle. Just like the little town she grew up in. And our stories about our grandmothers cooking with Crisco Oil [for example]. There are just so many common threads involved.”
What have Rex Linn and Reba been in recently?
Not only do they enjoy music and travel, but they’ve also enjoyed working together too. The couple starred as husband and wife Sunny and Buck Barnes on the third and final season of ABC’s Big Sky. “Rex and I had a great time. We really enjoy working together,” she told FIRST for Women in 2022.
Reba and Rex played Sunny and Buck Barnes, owners of Sunny Day Excursions, which operates hunting and camping trips in a small Montana town.
The couple also worked together earlier this year in The Hammer, a Lifetime movie where Reba portrayed a traveling circuit court judge and Linn portrayed a mysterious cowboy named Bart Crawford. “I thought it was really neat that he made a very handsome mysterious cowboy, too,” Reba told Yahoo Entertainment.
Reba also credits Linn with helping her improve her acting chops. “He helped me tremendously,” she says. “By the time we got to do our scenes together, it was just like talking to each other. He’s a great actor, and I just get the biggest kick out of the way he chooses to do a scene and then change it up and do it some other way. I’ve learned a lot from him.”
What does Rex Linn think of Reba being on ‘The Voice’?
Most recently, Linn cheered Reba’s new appointment as a judge on NBC’s The Voice and posted a playful snapshot of McEntire pretending to press her button to spin her chair and vie for a singer to join her team. He wrote the caption: “There’s a new judge in town!!! @nbcthevoice #thevoice #fancy,”
Will Rex Linn and Reba get married?
From the looks of Linn’s frequent and loving Instagram support of Reba, whom he affectionately calls “tater tot,” he is smitten…and so is she.
“He’s ‘sugar tot'” she tells Extra with a laugh. “We’ve talked about [marriage] and giggled about it. We thought, ‘Man if we ever had a ceremony, we would have to have a 2 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 6 o’clock and at 8 o’clock ‘cause we have so many friends, acquaintances, and family.”
But for now, they are both grateful just to have each other. “It was really sweet of God to put Rex into my life in this time in my life,” Reba told Southern Living, and Linn agreed. “It took me 63 years to find it, but it’s worth the wait.”