Hollywood icon Burt Reynolds, who ruled in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the biggest movie star in the world, has died at age 82.
His manager told the Hollywood Reporter that the actor passed away at Jupiter Medical Center in Florida this morning. The cause of death was not revealed, and a statement from his family is forthcoming.
The son of a military family, Reynolds moved around constantly after being born in Lansing, Michigan, his initial goal being to play in the NFL as a running back. He would later relive his decorated junior football career—cut short by a shoulder injury—in the 1974 Robert Aldrich comedy The Longest Yard.
After years of struggling as a dishwasher, dockworker, and bartender while landing odd roles on Broadway and TV, Reynolds got his first minor break on the 1960s hit TV series Gunsmoke.
It was in the '70s however that his star would ascend to stratospheric heights. Reynolds achieved widespread critical acclaim for his role in Deliverance, which pitted a group of suburban professionals against a group of inbred, squealing-pig-fixated rednecks in the American South.
That would serve as a springboard to a series of smashes—Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run, Starting Over—that made him the second-biggest-grossing star in Hollywood from 1978-82. Only Bing Crosby managed more hits in such a condensed time.
A sex symbol who never seemed to take things too seriously, Reynolds had career highlights during his mega-star years that also included gearing down for a famous nude spread in Cosmopolitan magazine. The issue ended up selling 1.5 million copies, and Reynolds later called his posing on a bearskin rug in his birthday suit one of the greatest mistakes he ever made, as it harmed his reputation as a serious actor.
Although his box-office appeal waned in the second half of the '80s, Reynolds had a late-career resurgence after being cast as a porn director in Paul Thomas Anderson's ode-to-'70s-skin-flicks film Boogie Nights, from 1997. While the actor was so unhappy with the role he fired his agent over it, he ended up with a best-supporting-actor Academy Award nomination.
Here's the trailer for Smokey and the Bandit, a film which made black Trans Ams a cultural phenomenon in 1977. Second only to Star Wars at the box office that year, the film had Reynold's playing Bo "Bandit" Darville, a shit-hot truck driver who slides behind the wheel of a Trans Am to help haul a shipment of bootlegged Coors beer from Texas to Georgia in 28 hours.
Here's what folks are saying on Twitter about Reynolds's passing.