Burt Reynolds, the charismatic star of such films as Deliverance, The Longest Yard and Smokey and the Bandit who set out to have as much fun as possible on and off the screen — and wildly succeeded — has died. He was 82.
Burton Leon Reynolds Jr. was born in Waycross, Ga., and attended Florida State University for two years on a football scholarship. But his promising career as a running back was cut short by a knee injury suffered in a car accident. Reynolds turned his attention to acting, moving to New York, where he struggled for several years until he landed a role in a revival of “Mr. Roberts” starring Charlton Heston in 1956.
Reynolds, who received an Oscar nomination when he portrayed porn director Jack Horner in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997) and was the No. 1 box-office attraction for a five-year stretch starting in the late 1970s, died Thursday morning at Jupiter Medical Center in Florida, his manager, Erik Kritzer, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Always with a wink, Reynolds shined in many action films (often doing his own stunts) and in such romantic comedies as Starting Over (1979) opposite Jill Clayburgh and Candice Bergen; The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) with Dolly Parton; Best Friends (1982) with Goldie Hawn; and, quite aptly, The Man Who Loved Women (1983) with Julie Andrews.
Some reactions from Hollywood:
“Burt Reynolds & Clint Eastwood were fired from GUNSMOKE & RAWHIDE at the same time. Burt was told he couldn’t act and Clint his neck was too skinny. In the parking lot, Burt said to Clint, “I dunno what you’re gonna do, but I’m gonna take acting lessons.” #RIPBurtReynolds” – Patten Oswald
“Rest in peace to a legend and a friend. #BurtReynolds” – Mark Wahlberg
“A sad day, my friend BURT REYNOLDS Has passed away. I remember him back in 1979, he always reminded me that I should’ve cast him as Colonel Trautman in FIRST BLOOD , I said that’s impossible, because you’re too expensive and too famous, and probably tougher than Rambo ! He laughed , He had a great sense of humor and I enjoyed his company so much… RIP” – Sylvester Stallone
The cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest.
Reynolds was married and divorced twice, first in the 1960s to “Laugh-In” comedienne Judy Carne and then to Anderson.
He is survived by adopted son Quinton from his second marriage.