Sally Field Issues Heartbreaking Statement on the Death of Burt Reynolds

He called her the 'love of his life' — and now the actress has shared her own feelings

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Burt Reynolds is gone, sadly — and one well-known actress is recalling her memories of him with fondness and love.

Reynolds’ manager confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday that the “Smokey and the Bandit” star passed away at Jupiter Medical in Florida of cardiac arrest at age 82.

The actor had suffered from various health issues in recent years.

Born in Lansing, Michigan, to a father who was a police chief, Reynolds became a football star at Florida State — his father eventually became police chief for Riviera Beach in the state.

Multiple injuries he suffered during his sophomore year meant football was not a realistic career for Reynolds — so he turned to acting at the insistence of an English teacher and moved to New York.

Scoring early roles in the 1950s and ’60s on shows such as “Gunsmoke,” Reynolds eventually shot to stardom in the 1970s after popular appearances on Johnny Carson’s late-night show, several high-profile films, and a famous 1972 magazine spread in which — let’s just say — he left very little to the imagination.

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He was the top-grossing star for five years in the 1970s and helped create classics including “Deliverance,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” and “The Longest Yard.”

Just a few years ago, Reynolds told Vanity Fair that his former co-star Sally Field was “the love of my life,” according to People magazine on Thursday as news of the actor’s passing spread.

And now, Sally Field herself has issued a statement about Reynolds.

She told People magazine, “There are times in your life that are so indelible, they never fade away.”

“They stay alive, even 40 years later,” she also said. “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.”

The two co-starred in four films together — and dated for nearly five years, though never married.

Reynolds had told the “Today” show not long ago how he fought to get Field cast in their first movie together.

“I wanted her really bad for ‘Smokey’ and [the filmmakers] said, ‘Well, she’s not sexy.’ And I said, ‘You don’t get it, talent is sexy.’ And she’s got that,” he said.

Of his own work, Reynolds has said he was proudest of his performance in 1972’s “Deliverance,” a film about a group of men on vacation in the South who are terrorized by locals.

“If I had to put only one of my movies in a time capsule, it would be ‘Deliverance,'” Reynolds wrote in his memoir. “I don’t know if it’s the best acting I’ve done, but it’s the best movie I’ve ever been in. It proved I could act, not only to the public but me.”

Related: Tribute to Burt Reynolds: His Five Best Performances, Have You Seen These?

Reynolds never truly slowed down. Even later in life, he was starring in hit films like the 2005 remake of “The Longest Yard” with Adam Sandler and 2004’s “Without a Paddle.”

His most recent film, “The Last Movie Star,” which was released this year, won Reynolds praise for his role as an aging movie star.

Other stars who worked with him over the years have also issued statements and shared their grief over his passing.

Country music superstar and actress Dolly Parton wrote, “I know we will always remember his funny laugh, that mischievous sparkle in his eyes, and his quirky sense of humor. You will always be my favorite sheriff, rest in peace my little buddy. I will always love you, Dolly” — as CNN reported.

Filmmakers and fans alike have been taking to social media to mourn Reynolds and to celebrate his career.

To see how sharp Reynolds was even toward the end of his life, check out the video below:

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