Burt Reynolds, Hollywood’s Iconic Smirking Badass, Has Died

Burt Reynolds, Hollywood’s Iconic Smirking Badass, Has Died

September 6, 2018 Off By River Donaghey

Burt Reynolds, the Hollywood star who brought his unique brand of winking machismo to everything from Smokey and the Bandit to Boogie Nights, passed away Thursday from a heart attack, Variety reports. He was 82.

Reynolds, originally a college football star with an eye toward the NFL, got his start as a TV actor in the 1960s after injuries put an end to his sports dreams. He made his name in westerns like Gunsmoke, but skyrocketed to fame with 1972's Deliverance. From there, he went on to dominate the box office throughout the rest of the decade with White Lightning, The Longest Yard, Hooper, and Smokey and the Bandit—a movie which spawned a franchise that carried well into the 1980s. He also tried his hand at directing with Sharky's Machine.

In the 70s he quickly became a sex symbol and the first man to appear in a Cosmopolitan centerfold, posing nude on a bearskin rug with a strategically placed arm. He also found his way onto the cover of Playboy during the height of his popularity. Reynolds suffered a string of flops as the 80s came to a close, but his role as porn director Jack Horner in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights landed him his first Oscar nomination in 1998.

He may best be remembered for his mustachioed roles in action-comedies like Cannonball Run, but Reynolds always maintained that Deliverance was his favorite. "If I had to put only one of my movies in a time capsule, it would be Deliverance," Reynolds wrote in his 2015 memoir, according to Hollywood Reporter. "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."

"I always wanted to experience everything and go down swinging," he continued, later in the book. "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."

Everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Kevin Smith to Dale Earnhardt Jr. took to Twitter to mourn Reynolds's death Thursday afternoon.

Just before his death, Reynolds had been cast as Manson Family associate George Spahn in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It's not clear whether or not any of his scenes had been shot before his passing, but hopefully we'll get to see him return to his Western roots one final time onscreen as the Spahn Ranch owner when Tarantino's film hits theaters next year.

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