The Hollywood community has just lost another legend, with screen icon Burt Reynolds passing away at the age of 82. Reynolds was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the 1970s and 1980s, whose streak of being the top-grossing Hollywood star between 1979 and 1982 was so rare it hadn’t happened since Bing Crosby’s stretch in the 1940s. He will be remembered for a multitude of roles in classics including Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball Run and Boogie Nights.
Reynolds was born in Michigan but raised in Florida, where he became a football star at Florida State University, before his sports career ended following both a knee injury and a car accident. With his prospects for a career in the NFL dashed, he headed to New York City after graduating from FSU to pursue a career in acting. Reynolds worked steadily throughout the 1960s, with recurring roles in Riverboat, Gunsmoke and Hawk, but he truly became a star with his indelible performance as Lewis Medlock in director John Boorman’s 1972 classic Deliverance.
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The news of Reynolds’ death comes from THR, with the actor’s manager confirming he passed away at the Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Florida earlier this morning, although no cause of death was given. The legendary actor was getting ready to film what might have been his comeback role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, where he was slated to portray George Spahn, who let Charles Manson and his “family” stay at his ranch before the infamous Sharon Tate murder. There is no indication yet how, or if, this will affect production, since Reynolds was reportedly supposed to start filming his role in just a few weeks.
At the height of Reynolds’ success in 1978, he once had four movies playing in theaters at the same time, which speaks volumes about his star power, and he also became well-known for turning down a number of iconic roles. He was offered the role of Han Solo in George Lucas’ Star Wars, which made Harrison Ford a star, along with John McClane (Bruce Willis) in Die Hard and Garrett Breedlove in Terms of Endearment, a role that won Jack Nicholson his second Oscar. Reynolds later admitted that turning down the Breedlove role was the biggest mistake of his professional career. Anderson was just as famous off-camera as he was on, with his high-profile marriage to actress Loni Anderson, and his now-infamous nude cover spread for Cosmopolitan magazine in 1972, while also developing the game show Win, Lose or Draw with host Bert Convy.
It’s probably fair to say that Reynolds did it all in Hollywood, and he even had a self-deprecating sense of humor about himself, making fun of his famous toupees and even guest-starring on Archer. The star did have his fair share of ups and downs, including a few stretches where acting roles seemed to dry up, along with him filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1996, which forced him to sell off his properties. Still, Reynolds has always found a way to make a comeback, like in 1997’s Boogie Nights, and many were looking forward to his latest comeback attempt in Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Still, Reynolds will go down in history as an inimitable Hollywood legend, who will be sorely missed.
Rest in Peace Burt Reynolds: February 11, 1936 – September 6, 2018