Burt Reynolds, the moustachioed star of movies Smokey and the Bandit and The Longest Yard, among many others, died at age 82 on Thursday in hospital in Jupiter, Fla.
His represenatative Erik Kritzer confirmed the news, but did not reveal what the actor died from.
Reynolds was one of the most popular movie stars in the ’70s and ’80s, and was known worldwide for his charisma, wry sense of humour and macho attitude. His likability extended to both the big and small screens, and he earned an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in 1997 movie Boogie Nights. He won an Emmy for his work on the TV series Evening Shade. He wasn’t recognized for his performance in Deliverance, but was highly lauded by critics.
Born on Feb. 11, 1936 in Lansing, Mich., his career began on TV westerns in the ’60s, and his sex appeal helped catapult him into movies. (Hilariously, he was the first male celebrity to pose nude for a centerfold — in a 1972 Cosmopolitan issue.)
His rise to stardom was certified with his first big movie, the 1974 drama The Longest Yard. Five years later, he appeared in what arguably ended up being his most successful movie, Smokey and the Bandit.
He starred in action films and found a special niche in romantic comedies, appearing in 1982’s The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas alongside Dolly Parton and The Man Who Loved Women with Julie Andrews in 1983.
Reynolds was also was a frequent nominee for the Razzie, the tongue-in-cheek award for Hollywood’s worst performance, and his personal life provided ongoing drama, particularly after an acrimonious divorce from Loni Anderson in 1995. He had a troubled marriage to Judy Carne, a romance with Dinah Shore and a relationship with Sally Field damaged by his acknowledged jealousy of her success.
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Through it all he presented a genial persona, often the first to make fun of his own conflicted image.
“My career is not like a regular chart, mine looks like a heart attack,” he told The Associated Press in 2001. “I’ve done over 100 films, and I’m the only actor who has been canned by all three networks. I epitomize longevity.”
Reynolds was candid about his flops, his regrets and about his many famous friends. He would call posing nude one of his biggest mistakes because it undermined the respect he had gained for Deliverance. He revered Spencer Tracy as an early mentor and came to know Johnny Carson, Clint Eastwood, Frank Sinatra and many others.
“My uncle was not just a movie icon; he was a generous, passionate and sensitive man who was dedicated to his family, friends, fans and acting students,” his niece, Nancy Lee Hess, said in a statement.
“He has had health issues, however, this was totally unexpected. He was tough. Anyone who breaks their tailbone on a river and finishes the movie is tough. And that’s who he was. My uncle was looking forward to working with Quentin Tarantino and the amazing cast that was assembled.”
Celebrities flooded social media with condolences for the movie star.
Reynolds was married and divorced twice, first in the ’60s to Laugh-In star Carne and then to Anderson.
He is survived by his son Quinton from his second marriage.
— With files from The Associated PressFollow @CJancelewicz
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