Burt Reynolds, whose good looks and charm made him one of Hollywood’s most popular actors as he starred in films such as “Deliverance,” “The Longest Yard” and “Smokey and the Bandit” in the 1970s and ’80s, died on Thursday at the age of 82, The Hollywood Reporter said, citing his manager.
At the peak of his career, Reynolds was one of the most bankable actors in the film industry, reeling off a series of box office smashes until a career downturn in the mid-1980s.
He rebounded in 1997 with a nomination for a best supporting actor Academy Award for “Boogie Nights” and won an Emmy Award for his role in the 1990-1994 TV series “Evening Shade.”
With his trademark mustache, rugged looks and macho aura, he was a leading male sex symbol of the 1970s.
He appeared naked -reclining on a bearskin rug with his arm strategically positioned for the sake of modesty – in a centerfold in the women’s magazine Cosmopolitan in 1972.
Reynolds’ personal life sometimes overshadowed his movies, with marriages that ended in divorce to actresses Loni Anderson and Judy Carne and romances with others, including Sally Field and Dinah Shore.
Reynolds also generated attention for financial woes and his struggles with prescription pain medication. Reynolds cited director John Boorman’s Oscar-nominated 1972 “Deliverance” as his best film and said he regretted that the hoopla from his Cosmopolitan appearance detracted from the movie that made him a star.
He played tough-guy Lewis Medlock – opposite Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox – in the chilling tale of a canoe trip gone bad in rural Georgia.
He starred in dozens of films, also including “White Lightning” (1973), “W.W. and the Dixie Dance kings” (1975),”Hustle” (1975), “Nickelodeon” (1976) and “Semi-Tough” (1977).He was the top money-making star at the box office in an annual poll of movie exhibitors 1978 through 1982. Many of his films were set in the South. He often played a lovable rascal who outwits local authorities as in director Hal Needham’s 1977 crowd-pleasing action comedy “Smokey and the Bandit,” co-starring his girlfriend Field and Jackie Gleason,and its two sequels. Another of his better roles was that of former a pro quarterback who lands in prison and assembles a team of convicts to play the warden’s squad of brutal prison guards in 1974’s rollicking “The Longest Yard,” directed by Robert Aldrich.
He appeared in a supporting role 2005’s remake with Adam Sandler. Reynolds also directed several movies in which he starred, including “Gator” (1976), “The End” (1978), “Sharky’s Machine”(1981) and “Stick” (1985). While some of his performances were critically praised, others were ridiculed, particularly in the bloated action comedy “Cannonball Run II,” a sequel to his financial success “The Cannon ball Run” (1981).
He also starred in the notorious 1975musical flop “At Long Last Love,” a film so atrocious that director Peter Bogdanovich publicly apologized for making it. Reynolds turned down notable roles including Han Solo in “Star Wars,” which went to Harrison Ford; the title role in a James Bond film; and the astronaut in “Terms of Endearment” that Jack Nicholson turned into an Oscar-winning performance.