‘Smokey and the Bandit’ Star Burt Reynolds Is Dead at 82

The Academy Award-nominated actor never slowed down and influenced generations of artists

Image Credit: Universal Studios / Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures

One of the biggest movie stars in history has died.

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

The actor had suffered from various health issues over the past few years.

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

Multiple injuries 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 ’50s and ’60s on shows such as “Gunsmoke,” Reynolds would eventually shoot to stardom in the ’70s thanks to popular appearances on Johnny Carson’s late-night show, several high-profile films, and a famous 1972 magazine spread in which 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.”

Reynolds said in his 2015 memoir that having fun while making movies was always his ultimate goal.

“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,” he wrote. “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.”

Despite that, Reynolds still turned in highly praised performances.

He was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the 1997 film “Boogie Nights,” a movie he didn’t particularly like.

“It wasn’t my kind of film,” Reynolds told Conan O’Brien earlier this year. He turned down the role of a pornographic director seven times before eventually accepting it.

Reynolds was proudest of his work 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.”

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.

The actor was set to play a role in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” but it is unclear how much of the role he finished shooting, if any at all.

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

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

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