Burt Reynolds, Charming Star Whose Film Career Spanned 6 Decades, Dies at 82

Playing 'Deliverance' Star Burt Reynolds Dies at 82

Burt Reynolds, the celebrated star of numerous films that included "The Cannonball Run" and "Smokey and the Bandit," has died. He was 82.

The charismatic actor died Thursday. His cause of death was not immediately confirmed.

Born Burton Milo Reynolds Jr. on Feb. 11, 1936 in Waycross, Georgia, he grew up in Florida's Palm Beach County. His dad was the police chief of Riviera beach, located near the Everglades.

Gunsmoke
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"My dad was my hero, but he never acknowledged any of my achievements," Reynolds wrote in his 2015 memoir, "But Enough About Me." "I always felt that no amount of success would make me a man in his eyes."

He was best known for his action roles, for which he did most of his own stunts.

Reynolds also shined as a leading man in several romantic comedies — with a wink and a nod to the audience — in films that included "Starting Over" with Jill Clayburgh in 1979 and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" with Dolly Parton in 1982.

His role as pornography director Jack Horner in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Boogie Nights" earned him a best supporting actor Oscar nod, an award he was bitterly disappointed to lose in 1998 to Robin Williams for "Good Will Hunting."

Reynolds was outspoken and unafraid to criticize those closest to him, firing his agent after seeing his own performance in "Boogie Nights," which came as a disappointment.

Among the celebrities paying their respects to Reynolds on Twitter were Arnold Schwarzenegger, filmmaker Kevin Smith, talk show host Steve Harvey, and comedians Ricky Gervais and Patton Oswalt.

Reynolds was last seen publicly in April at the Tribeca Film Festival, where he was helped onto the red carpet by Robert De Niro.

At times struggling to walk, Reynolds was given a chair on the celebrity walkway so he could speak to a limited number of reporters about his film "Dog Years."

"Great to see Mr. De Niro, who I love, and ... you know, all the people that I know," he said. "It's very sweet."

Burt Reynolds
Burt Reynolds is pictured in March at the premiere of "The Last Movie Star." Getty

Reynolds was box office dynamite the 1960s, '70s and '80s with hits such as "The Longest Yard," "Deliverance" and "Smokey and the Bandit.

In "But Enough About Me," he rued his controversial decision to pose nude on a bearskin rug for Cosmopolitan magazine in 1972

The Cosmo issue sold 1.5 million copies. "It's been called one of the greatest publicity stunts of all time, but it was one of the biggest mistakes I've ever made," he wrote, "and I'm convinced it cost 'Deliverance' the recognition it deserved."

He was a high school and college football star. He once talked to legendary coach Bear Bryant about attending the University of Alabama. He put that experience to good use in 1974's "The Longest Yard," playing Paul "Wrecking" Crewe, a prison athlete who leads his team in a game against the guards.

Thirty-one years later, he appeared in a "Longest Yard" remake opposite Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.

In 1977, he starred in "Smokey and the Bandit," which grossed $126 million and was written by friend and legendary stuntman Hal Needham, who also directed the hugely popular movie. Oddly, it was said the to be Alfred Hitchcock's favorite movie.

He had a long relationship with his "Smokey and the Bandit" co-star Sally Field. He also had dalliances with Dinah Shore, who was 20 years his senior, Inger Stevens, Chris Evert and talked in his book of dating Goldie Hawn and Farrah Fawcett.

He was married to "Laugh-In" star Judy Carne from 1963 to 1966, and to Loni Anderson, the stunning  "WKRP in Cincinnati" star from 1988 to 1993. Both divorces were messy.

Burt and Loni
Burt Reynolds with Loni Anderson in 1985 Getty

He rebooted his career in the 1990s, after a series of film failures, with "Evening Shade," a CBS sitcom. He won an Emmy in 1991 for portraying Woodrow "Wood" Newton, the football coach at a small-town Arkansas high school.

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