Burt Reynolds, the epitome of male sexual bravado over a career that spanned the macho ’70s and ’80s in such films as “Deliverance” and “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” died today of a heart attack at his home. He was 82.
Burt was a man’s man and women were proud of it, during the peak of his career. Raise your hand if your mom also had that copy of Cosmopolitan magazine.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 6, 2018
You know the one where a grinning Reynolds was the naked centerfold. It was a parody of Playboy centerfolds at a time when women who coming into their own as part of the women’s liberation and equal rights movement.
In later years, an aging Reynolds became a parody of himself and much of his work play off his macho characters in films like “The Longest Yard” in 1974, “Smokey and the Bandit in 1977 and “Semi-Tough” in 1977.
Many of his films were about booze, broads and fast cars, but he starred in a memorable role in 1997’s “Boogie Nights,” which did as much to normalize the porn industry as the seminal 1972 movie “Deep Throat,” about porn star Linda Lovelace.
“When he did ‘Boogie Nights,’ he fired his agent because he didn’t like the way he looked and then was nominated for a Golden Globe. If you ask me, he was one of the last bonafide superstars,” says veteran New York City PR man David Salidor.
In fact, Reynolds was nominated for an Oscar and received the Golden Globe for his portrayal of Jack Horner, an adult filmmaker.
He was also notable for comedy roles.
During his career, Reynolds said he was born in Waycross, GA, apparently to bolster claims he was part Indian. But he finally admitted he was born in Lansing, Mich. in 2015, when he was 79 years old.
In 1946, after World War II, his family moved to Riviera Beach, Fla., just north of West Palm Beach. His father became Chief of Police.
Reynolds’ muscular build and athleticism was no Hollywood fluke. He was a first team All-State and All-Southern football fullback in high school and played Division I football at Florida State University.
He began his acting career on television in the late 1950s, and debuted on the big-screen in “Angel Baby,” a 1961 film about life in rural Southern America.
He became a regular on the television show “Riverboat,” and made a name for himself as part of the regular cast of “Gunsmoke.” He played the “half-breed” blacksmith Quint Asper.
For the first decade of his career, he was cast mostly in War movies and Westerns, probably because of his character in the hugely popular “Gunsmoke” television drama.
His role in the 1972 film “Deliverance,” finally put him on the map. He played Lewis Medlock, the macho member of a group of pals that decide to take a canoe trip down a river that will soon be flooded by a new dam.
They run into some backwoods degenerates who test their courage and manhood.
“I sure did like ‘Deliverance’ and Boogie Nights. The ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ movies I could take or leave, but Burt sure looked like he was having the time of his life,” said Salidor.
He essentially played the same character throughout his career and his mustache became his signature feature.
He married Loni Anderson and high-profile romances with Sally Field and Dinah Shore. His divorce from Anderson was one of the worst in Hollywood history.
He’s survived by his son.