The iconic Hollywood sex symbol Burt Reynolds, star of such film as "Gunsmoke", "Hawk" "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Boogie Night" died today of cardiac arrest. He was 82 years old. With his trademark mustache, masculine looks, and macho personality, he was a leading male sex symbol of the 70s and early 80s.
Reynolds got his movie start in John Boorman's 1972 thriller "Deliverance," which cast Reynolds as outdoorsman Lewis Medlock.
By 1974, Reynolds had hit it big and starred as an ex-football star who is imprisoned in the film "The Longest Yard." Two years earlier, he posed nude in Cosmopolitan magazine, which helped cement his growing status as a sex symbol but also drew a lot of criticism. He later said he regretted that centerfold image.
At the peak of his career, Reynolds was one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood until a career downturn in the mid-1980s. However, he rebounded in 1997 with a nomination for a best supporting actor Academy Award for "Boogie Nights" and won an Emmy Award for his role in the TV series "Evening Shade".
Reynolds wasn't only known for his good looks. He also tried his directorial hand and later earned a reputation for philanthropy after founding the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film & Theatre in his home state of Florida.
His roles over the years ranged and pivoted from Southern heartthrob to tough guy to comedy, notably in his role as politician David Dilbeck in the salacious film "Striptease," which did poorly the box office but earned him widespread praise for his comedic range.
Reynolds also turned down some of the biggest roles in Hollywood history, including James Bond to Han Solo in "Star Wars." Reynolds also reportedly was among the top choices to play Michael Corleone in "The Godfather before it launched Al Pacino’s career.
In 1998, Reynolds scored his only Oscar nomination, for best supporting actor, after his portrayal of a porn film producer in the film "Boogie Nights," despite his dislike of the film. Reynolds went on record to say he thought it glorified the porn industry too much.
Eventually Reynolds' fast-paced life style caught up with him and he suffered from health issues that led to open heart surgery. Reynolds also checked into a drug rehab clinic in 2009 after becoming addicted to painkillers prescribed following back surgery.
Reynolds fell into financial trouble amid private ventures in an Atlanta restaurant and a professional sports team, though he continued to make cameo appearances and teach acting classes.
However, Reynold's star power seemed to be on the rise again. He was scheduled to make a comeback when he was cast in the upcoming Quentin Tarantino film "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," scheduled for release next year. How it would ultimately effect his career we’ll never know since Reynolds had not yet started shooting his part in the film.
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