You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Burt Reynolds dies age 82: Tributes pour in for Hollywood 'legend' and 'trailblazer'

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 07/09/2018 Rob Crilly
Replay Video

(Geobeats)

Burt Reynolds, whose moustache, machismo and twinkly eyes turned him into a Hollywood heartthrob, has died at the age of 82.

His publicist said he died in Florida after suffering a heart attack.

The actor had heart bypass surgery in 2010 and is survived by his son, Quinton.

Download the all-new Microsoft News app – available now on iOS and Android

He starred in more than 80 films, including his The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit, and Boogie Nights, for which he won an Oscar nomination, but he claimed to have turned down an offer to be James Bond in 1970.

Gallery: Burt Reynolds' best quotes on love, regret and drunk naked posing on a bearskin rug (USA Today)

At the peak of his career he was one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, combining rugged good looks with an easy charm.

His heartthrob status even led to him posing naked for Cosmopolitan in 1972 – a strategically positioned arm preserving his modesty.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was among the Hollywood stars to pay tribute.

“ He was a trailblazer,” he said. “He showed the way to transition from being an athlete to being the highest paid actor, and he always inspired me.”

Reynolds, whose hopes of becoming a professional American football player were dashed by a string of injuries, had starred in TV shows such as Gunsmoke and Dan August before landing the role of Lewis Medlock in Deliverance, which proved to be his breakout performance.

He always said it was one of his best films, and later talked about the way the film's infamous rape scene may have helped men better understand the horror of sexual attacks.

a close up of Burt Reynolds wearing glasses and looking at the camera: Reynolds is survived by a son © Reuters Reynolds is survived by a son

"It was the only time I saw men get up, sick, and walk out of a theatre," he said years later.

Many of his subsequent films were set in the South and showcased his strength playing lovable rascals who outwit the authorities, such as the 1977 action comedy Smokey and the Bandit and its two sequels.

But he claimed to have turned down a string of high-profile roles including James Bond, Han Solo in Star Wars and John McClane in Die Hard.

a man standing in front of a building: Burt Reynolds, left, discusses a scene with director Paul Bogart during location shooting of a new ABC-TV series "Hawk" © AP Photo/Joe Caneva, File Burt Reynolds, left, discusses a scene with director Paul Bogart during location shooting of a new ABC-TV series "Hawk"

He often said he would rather enjoy himself than push his acting abilities to their limit.

"I didn't open myself to new writers or risky parts because I wasn't interested in challenging myself as an actor. I was interested in having a good time,” he wrote in his 2015 memoir, But Enough About Me.

"As a result, I missed a lot of opportunities to show I could play serious roles. By the time I finally woke up and tried to get it right, nobody would give me a chance."

Budding sports star

Burton Leon Reynolds Jnr was born on February 11, 1936, and grew up in Florida.

He was known as a fine athlete and played football at Florida State University in the 1950s before his professional football hopes were dashed by injuries suffered in a car crash.

Burt Reynolds et al. posing for the camera: Reynolds with his actress wife Loni Anderson in 1987 © AP Reynolds with his actress wife Loni Anderson in 1987

He began acting after enrolling in a junior college. He moved to New York and landed minor stage and TV roles before making his film debut in 1961. 

In 1972, the same year Deliverance was released, he showed versatility by also starring in Woody Allen's comedy Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask.

A string of hits followed as he became firmly established as an A-list star who could bring in audiences.

Actor Burt Reynolds in a scene from the movie 'Lucky Lady', 1975. (Photo by Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images) © Getty Actor Burt Reynolds in a scene from the movie 'Lucky Lady', 1975. (Photo by Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images)

Financial troubles

However, his career went into decline during the 1980s and his finances were hit by failed investments in a Florida football team and restaurants.

His love life also came under scrutiny during a high-profile divorce from Loni Anderson and he filed for bankruptcy in 1996.

A comeback materialised in 1997 with a role as a porn film producer in Boogie Nights. The film won three Oscar nominations including one for Reynolds in the best supporting actor category.

He suffered health problems in later years, including a stint in rehab in 2009 after back surgery left him addicted to painkillers.

TODAY -- Pictured: Burt Reynolds  on Thursday, March 15, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) © Getty TODAY -- Pictured: Burt Reynolds on Thursday, March 15, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

His final film appearance is due next year with the release of Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In Hollywood alongside Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Hollywood pays tribute

Mark Wahlberg was among those to offer their respects, posting a picture of Reynolds taken during their time on set during the filming of Boogie Nights.

 Others thanked him for providing laughter along the way.

Hours after news of his death was announced, fans gathered to watch as a wreath of flowers was laid on his star on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.

The event was organised by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the body responsible for the stars.

Gallery: People we lost in 2018 (Photo Services)

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Telegraph

AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon