Burt Reynolds, whose good looks and charm made him one of Hollywood’s most popular actors as he starred in such films as “Deliverance,” “The Longest Yard” and “Smokey and the Bandit” in the 1970s and ‘80s, died on Thursday at age 82.
Reynolds, who was set to appear next summer in the all-star cast of director Quentin Tarantino’s next film, died in the morning at a hospital near his South Florida home, according to his manager, Erik Kritzer.
A caretaker for Reynolds at his estate in Hobe Sound, north of Palm Beach, was heard telling an emergency dispatcher that the actor was having chest pains and breathing difficulties in an audiotape of the call released by the Martin County Sheriff’s Department.
The actor was later pronounced dead at the Jupiter Medical Center.
“It is with a broken heart that I said goodbye to my uncle today,” Reynolds’ niece Nancy Lee Hess said in a statement issued through Kritzer.
While acknowledging that Reynolds had a history of health issues - he underwent quintuple heart bypass surgery in 2010 - Hess called her uncle’s death “totally unexpected.”
“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,” Hess said.
At the peak of his career, Reynolds was one of the most bankable actors in the film industry, reeling off a series of box-office smashes until a career downturn in the mid-1980s, said a Reuters report.
He rebounded in 1997 with an Oscar nomination for his supporting role as a porn director in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights” - a role Reynolds despised - and won an Emmy for his role in the 1990-1994 television series “Evening Shade.”
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