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Burt Reynolds, Star of “Smokey and the Bandit,” Dies at 82

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 9/7/2018 Motor Trend Staff

After instilling a love of Pontiac Trans Ams in millions of car enthusiasts and movie lovers around the globe, actor Burt Reynolds has died at the age of 82. The Associated Press reports Reynolds' death was confirmed by his agent on Thursday. In a statement released by the family, Reynolds' niece Nancy Lee Hess said his death was "totally unexpected"; however, she did note the actor had health issues. Several outlets have reported Reynolds died of a heart attack, though an official cause of death hasn't been publicly released.

Burt Reynolds wearing a suit and tie© Motor Trend Staff

Reynolds will be best remembered by the automotive world as the star of the 1977 hit action-comedy Smokey and the Bandit. That film also starred a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am painted in a now-iconic black and gold color scheme. The car was driven by Reynolds' character Bo "Bandit" Darville in the film and served as the blocker for a bootleg beer-hauling semi-truck and a foil for "Smokey," the CB radio term for the cops who relentlessly pursued Bandit and his trucker partner. The film spawned two sequels in 1980 and 1983, and Reynolds returned to reprise his role in both. It's the original, however, that made the Trans Am a household name.

a car parked on the side of a road© Motor Trend Staff

In 1981, Reynolds teamed up again with Smokey and the Bandit director Hal Needham for another film that would become a cult classic among car enthusiasts: The Cannonball Run. The script was written by Brock Yates, automotive journalist and founder of the real-life Cannonball Run (originally called the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash). The film is loosely based on the 1979 running of the outlaw cross-country race. Reynolds returned for the 1984 sequel, Cannonball Run II, but passed on the franchise's third installment, 1989's Speed Zone.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd© Motor Trend Staff

Of course, Reynolds did more than just car movies. The actor's filmography spans seven decades and includes more than 150 TV and film credits. Reynolds scored a recurring role on the popular 1950s TV show Gunsmoke and was continually cast in Westerns thanks to his dark complexion, which Hollywood believed made him passable as a Native American. His big break came in 1972 with Deliverance, a film that to this day makes us a little wary of visiting backwoods Southern towns. Another notable film he starred in was 1997's Boogie Nights, which earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. He lost that award but won in the same category at the Golden Globes that year. In total, Reynolds won two Golden Globes and was nominated seven times.

Reynolds is survived by his son, Quinton.

a person standing in front of a guitar© Motor Trend Staff

Social media channels are exploding with tributes and remembrances of Reynolds' long career and wide-reaching influence, both in the automotive sphere and elsewhere. Here are just a few:

Our thoughts are with Reynolds' family during this difficult time, and we wish the man himself a fast, safe journey to that screaming chicken in the sky. Rest in peace, good buddy.

Source: AP, IMDB

Bandit Trans Am from Trans Am Worldwide with Burt Reynolds screen shot© Motor Trend Staff Bandit Trans Am from Trans Am Worldwide with Burt Reynolds screen shot
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