Burt Reynolds, Hollywood Icon, Has Died at 82
Burt Reynolds, the iconic mustachioed star of classics ranging from Smokey and the Bandit to Boogie Nights, has passed away at the age of 82. The actor died early Thursday at Jupiter Medical Center in Florida, as confirmed by his manager. No cause of death has been given at this time.
The Hollywood Reporter received confirmation of Reynolds’ passing from his manager, Erik Kritzer. Reynolds, whose television and film career spanned over 60 years, most recently appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is currently in production in California.
Reynolds began his career in television in the late ’50s, appearing on shows like Gunsmoke and Dan August (which he later criticized on Johnny Carson’s late night show) before landing his breakout role in John Boorman’s 1972 thriller Deliverance. Soon after, Reynolds was everywhere — appearing on the cover of Cosmopolitan, and starring in action flicks and comedies like White Lightning and Smokey and the Bandit. In every year from 1978 — when he had four movies out in theaters at once — through 1982, Reynolds was the top-grossing star in Hollywood.
Reynolds was in high demand in the ’70s and ’80s, despite famously turning down several notable roles earlier in his career, including James Bond, TV’s Batman, and the lead in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — for which Jack Nicholson won the Best Actor Oscar.
His later years were marked by highs and lows: In 1996, after failed investments and an expensive highly-publicized divorce from Loni Anderson, he filed for bankruptcy. The following year, Reynolds garnered acclaim for his role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights, though he turned down an offer to star in the director’s follow-up, Magnolia. (An incredible oral history of Boogie Nights published by Grantland detailed the on-set clashes between Reynolds and Anderson.)
In the 2000s, Reynolds co-starred in big studio remakes of two of his most classic films: Smokey and the Bandit and The Longest Yard. Following a period of inactivity and the 2011 foreclosure on his home, Reynolds emerged in 2015 in a fascinating Vanity Fair story that profiled the aging icon at his Florida mansion as he auctioned off most of his belongings. The profile ran in conjunction with the release of Reynolds’ memoir, But Enough About Me.
Reynolds returned to the big screen in the 2017 indie drama The Last Movie Star, in which he played the meta-role of an aging actor forced to reconcile with the fact that his best days are behind him. Despite negative reviews, Reynolds was praised for his performance in the film, which co-starred Chevy Chase and Modern Family’s Ariel Winter.
Earlier this year, Reynolds signed on to co-star in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the ninth film from Quentin Tarantino. Set in Los Angeles in 1969, the movie follows a former western star (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stuntman (Brad Pitt) as they try to make a name for themselves in an industry that’s rapidly changing. Reynolds played the role of Charles Spahn, the owner of the ranch where Charles Manson and his followers lived leading up to the notorious Manson Family murders.
Tarantino is still shooting the film, which has a large ensemble and a sprawling, interconnected narrative. I’m told that Tarantino is shooting much of Once Upon a Time out of order based on availability; it’s unclear if Reynolds completed filming his part before his death.