Burt Reynolds, star of such productions as Smokey and the Bandit, Deliverance and Boogie Nights has died, aged 82.
The announcement was made by his niece, Nancy Lee Hess in a statement that read:
“It is with a broken heart that I said goodbye to my uncle today. My uncle was not just a movie icon; he was a generous, passionate and sensitive man, who was dedicated to his family, friends, fans and acting students. He has had health issues, however, this was totally unexpected. He was tough. Anyone who breaks their tail bone on a river and finishes the movie is tough. And that’s who he was.
My uncle was looking forward to working with Quentin Tarantino, and the amazing cast that was assembled. So many people have already contacted me, to tell me how they benefitted professionally and personally from my uncle’s kindness. I want to thank all of his amazing fans who have always supported and cheered him on, through all of the hills and valleys of his life and career. My family and I appreciate the outpouring of love for my uncle, and I ask that everyone please respect our family’s privacy at this very difficult time.”
Reynolds was the top-grossing actor every year from 1978 to 1982 (which hasn’t been matched by anyone since), and went on to receive an Oscar nomination for his role as porn director Jack Horner in 1997’s Boogie Nights. The actor shined in his numerous action roles, often doing his own stunts, but Reynolds was in no way a typecast actor, as he also had success in romantic comedies, and in later years more indie productions.
Though Boogie Nights was one of his best performances according to critics, when Reynolds first saw himself in the film, he was so unhappy that he fired his agent, recalling in his 2015 memoir, But Enough About Me:
“I didn’t open myself to new writers or risky parts because I wasn’t interested in challenging myself as an actor. I was interested in having a good time. As a result, I missed a lot of opportunities to show I could play serious roles. By the time I finally woke up and tried to get it right, nobody would give me a chance.”
Reynolds kept acting until his dying day, having been set to star in Quentin Tarantino’s star-studded Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as George Spahn, a rancher who sold Charles Manson that land where he and his “family” called home.
Many of those who knew and loved Reynolds shared their respects, with his Smokey and the Bandit co-star, and former flame Sally Field saying, “There are times in your life that are so indelible, they never fade away. They stay alive, even forty years later. 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.”
Some of the other tributes to the star read:
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) September 6, 2018
Burt Reynolds was one of my heroes. He was a trailblazer. He showed the way to transition from being an athlete to being the highest paid actor, and he always inspired me. He also had a great sense of humor – check out his Tonight Show clips. My thoughts are with his family.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) September 6, 2018
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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 Buddy
Though Burt Reynolds had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with Hollywood, he seemed to have no regrets, finishing his memoir by saying, “I always wanted to experience everything and go down swinging. Well, so far, so good. I know I’m old, but I feel young. And there’s one thing they can never take away: Nobody had more fun than I did.”