Burt Reynolds, the mustached sex symbol of the 1970s and 1980s, who ruled the box office with good-ol’-boy movies like Smokey and the Bandit and earned the critical praise he so badly desired in Starting Over and Boogie Nights, died Thursday in Florida of cardiac arrest, his agent confirmed to Yahoo Entertainment. He was 82.
Reynolds’s niece, Nancy Lee Hess, released a statement calling his passing “totally unexpected.”
“It is with a broken heart that I said goodbye to my uncle today. My uncle was not just a movie icon; he was a generous, passionate and sensitive man, who was dedicated to his family, friends, fans and acting students,” she said. “He has had health issues, however, this was totally unexpected. He was tough. Anyone who breaks their tail bone on a river and finishes the movie is tough. And that’s who he was. My uncle was looking forward to working with Quentin Tarantino, and the amazing cast that was assembled. So many people have already contacted me, to tell me how they benefitted professionally and personally from my uncles kindness.’
Hess concluded, “I want to thank all of his amazing fans who have always supported and cheered him on, through all of the hills and valleys of his life and career. My family and I appreciate the outpouring of love for my uncle, and I ask that everyone please respect our family’s privacy at this very difficult time.”
As much as Reynolds represented an era, he also stood as a timeless cautionary tale. After a five-year run as Hollywood’s No. 1 male movie star, from 1978 to 1982, Reynolds fell into a funk of flops and personal problems, including unfounded health rumors and a nasty tabloid divorce from TV star Loni Anderson, from which his career never recovered.
Looking back once, Reynolds said he had something no one could take from him: He was “part of film history.”
“You die with that,” Reynolds said. “They can say his career went downhill after that; he made bad films.’ It doesn’t matter.”
Source: Yahoo News