Burt Reynolds, who has starred in films like “The Longest Yard,” “Boogie Nights” and “Deliverance,” died of cardiac arrest on Thursday. He was 82.
Reynolds received an Oscar nomination for his role in 1997’s “Boogie Nights,” and also had major roles in movies like 1982’s “Best Friends,” 1977’s “Smokey and the Bandit” and “The Man Who Loved Women” (1983).
He was filming Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” before his death.
Reynolds was born in 1936 in Lansing, Michigan. Although initially a football player, but quickly became interested in a career in theater. He was cast in “Tea and Sympathy” at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City and debuted on Broadway with “Look, We’ve Come Through.”
He also gained prominence by starring in the TV series “Gunsmoke” and made his film debut with 1961’s “Angel Baby.” His breakout role, however, came with “Deliverance,” which saw him star alongside Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox as a quartet of Atlanta men who head up into the Georgia wilderness on a vacation gone horribly wrong. Nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, the film is infamous for a 10-minute scene in which Beatty’s character is raped by a pair of hillbillies, one of whom is murdered by Reynolds’ character.
The performance quickly rocketed Reynolds to stardom, as he appeared two years later in the cult sports classic “The Longest Yard,” in which he plays a former NFL star who gets arrested and is then challenged to recruit a team of convicts to play against the prison’s guards.
Then, in 1978, Reynolds began a five year reign as the most bankable star in Hollywood, earning more money at the box office than any other actor through 1982. Among the films he starred in during that period include “Smokey and the Bandit II,” the stuntman tribute “Hooper,” the race car comedy “The Cannonball Run,” and the musical comedy “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” the last of which he starred in alongside Dolly Parton.
But in the late ’80s, Reynolds’ career took a downturn, as several of his films flopped and his TV series “B.L. Stryker” was cancelled. But his career was revived in the 90s with the help of the CBS sitcom “Evening Shade,” which ran from 1990 to 1994 and earned Reynolds an Emmy for his performance as Wood Newton, a former NFL star who returns to his small hometown to coach the local, terrible high school football team.
Reynolds also saw his popularity rise again in the 90s thanks in part to Norm Macdonald’s impression of him on “Saturday Night Live” as part of the beloved “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketches. Alongside Darrell Hammond’s version of Sean Connery, Macdonald’s Reynolds would torment Alex Trebek (played by Will Ferrell), most notably by having his name changed to “Turd Ferguson.”
Reynolds also became a common gag on the FX comedy series “Archer,” as the show’s titular super spy was a big fan of Reynolds and regularly referenced his films. The relationship between the spy and his idol took a new level in the third season episode “The Man From Jupiter,” which saw Reynolds play himself as Archer encounters him at a bar, only for his joy to turn to horror when he discovers that his childhood hero is dating his mother, Mallory.
Reynolds is survived by his adopted son Quinton, whom he adopted with Loni Anderson, his wife from 1988 to 1993.