Burt Reynolds died today (Thursday) after going into cardiac arrest at a hospital in Florida. Us Weeklysays his family was by his side. He was 82.
A star football player in college, he went on to become a leading ladies man in the ‘70s, the butt of Hollywood jokes in the '80s and the model of the rehabilitated career in the '90s.
- Burt Reynolds was born in Lansing, Michigan on February 11th, 1936. (He long claimed to have been born in Georgia.)
- After knocking around television throughout the '60s, his big break came in 1972’s Deliverance.
- He’ll be best remembered for White Lightning, The Longest Yard, Boogie Nights and Smokey the Bandit.
- He’ll also be remembered for high-profile romances with Dinah Shore, Sally Field and Loni Anderson.
- After his career flagged in the '80s, Reynolds made a strong comeback, earning an Oscar nomination for 1997’s Boogie Nights.
Reynolds was born Burton Leon Reynolds Junior in Lansing, Michigan on February 11th, 1936. His family moved to Florida, where he attended Florida State University and was a star halfback before a knee injury ended his chances of playing pro football. Reynolds left school and headed to New York City to act, supporting himself as a dishwasher and bouncer while doing small stage roles. Then in 1957, an agent spotted him in a production of Mister Roberts and signed him to a TV contract.
Reynolds spent years working on TV, with regular roles on Riverboat, Gunsmoke, Hawk and Dan August. His big film break came as an adventurer in the 1972 thriller Deliverance, which made him a superstar. The tough-guy parts kept coming in a string of films that included 1973’s Shamus and White Lightning, 1974’s The Longest Yard, 1976’s Gator and the 1977 smash-hit comedy Smokey and the Bandit. He closed out the '70s as one of America’s top stars with the 1977 football comedy Semi-Tough, the 1978 black comedy The End and the 1978 stunt-man comedy Hooper.
The '80s were leaner times for Reynolds. They started off strong in 1981 with the cop thriller Sharky's Machine and the campy comedy The Cannonball Run, but fell off with such ill-received films as 1983’s Stroker Ace, 1984’s City Heat and 1985’s Stick. In the '90s Reynolds made a move back to TV and achieved some success with the shows BL Stryker and Evening Shade.
Reynolds made his film comeback in the late '90s, as a drunken politician in 1996’s Striptease and as a porn producer in 1997’s Boogie Nights, which earned him an Oscar nomination. He would continue to do small film and TV roles over the next decade but never again achieved leading-man status.
Off-screen, Reynolds was famous for his longtime relationships with high-profile ladies, including Dinah Shore, Sally Field and Loni Anderson. He’s survived by his adopted son Quinton (with Loni Anderson).