Sept 6, 2018: Burt Reynolds, Movie Superstar, Dies

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On the silver screen he was as cool as they came. Burt Reynolds, who combined tough guy acting chops with a devilish smile and a wise-cracking sense of humor, with a movie star’s good looks, died September 6, 2018, in Jupiter, Fla. The actor, who was on the top of his game throughout the ’70s and into the ’80s in dozens of box-office hits like Deliverance, The Longest Yard, the Smokey and the Bandit series, and Semi-Tough, was 82.

Reynolds died of cardiac arrest, at Jupiter Medical Center, according to his manager Erik Kritzer.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s obituary noted Reynolds “was Hollywood’s top-grossing star every year from 1978 through 1982, equaling the longest stretch the business had seen since the days of Bing Crosby in the 1940s. In 1978, he had four movies playing in theaters at the same time.”

Reynolds was born February 11, 1936 in Lansing, Michigan. His family moved to Florida when he was 10 and Reynolds, a gifted athlete, became an All-State football player in high school. He received a football scholarship to Florida State University but injuries forced him to give up the sport.

His acting roles in TV series like Gunsmoke and Dan August ultimately led him to the big screen. His breakout role was in 1972’s Deliverance, about four friends who go on a canoeing expedition in rural Georgia. Reynolds portrayed Lewis Medlock opposite Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, in the film version of the 1970 James Dickey novel. The film earned three Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, and a hit single, “Dueling Banjos.”

Reynolds was twice-married, both times to actresses. The first was to British actress Judy Carne in 1963; decades later he wed Loni Anderson, to whom he was married from 1988 to 1993. But he described actress Sally Field, with whom he famously starred in the 1977 action comedy, Smokey and the Bandit, as “the love of my life.” The pair reprised their roles in a 1980 sequel.

“There are times in your life that are so indelible, they never fade away. They stay alive, even 40 years later,” Field told Us Weekly in a statement. “My years with Burt never leave my mind. He will be in my history and my heart, for as long as I live. Rest, Buddy.”

In 1972, he posed nude for Cosmopolitan wearing nothing but his mustache with a cigar in his mouth. He was lying on a bear rug with his arm discretely between his legs.

Reynolds portrayed Paul “Wrecking” Crew, a wise-cracking former pro football quarterback who was sentenced to prison, in 1974’s The Longest Yard. The film earned the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and further cemented Reynolds’ reputation as a star, who could carry a picture.

He ultimately returned to the small screen, starring in Evening Shade, for which he won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in 1992. In 1997, he co-starred in Boogie Nights, which starred Mark Wahlberg as a dishwasher turned porn star. The acclaimed film’s cast also included Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Heather Graham and John C. Reilly. Reynolds earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role.

He published But Enough About Me: A Memoir in 2015.

Sally Field, football coach Bobby Bowden and quarterback Doug Flutie were among those at his private memorial service, held on Sept. 20.

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