The best of Burt Reynolds — Hollywood icon dies at age 82

A look back at the career of Burt Reynolds

Burt Reynolds passed away Sept. 6, 2018, at the age of 82. Here is a look back at movie highlights in the career of a Hollywood icon.

“Deliverance” (1972): One of Reynolds’ best-known dramatic performances is a highlight of this grueling, John Boorman-directed tale of a rafting excursion gone awry, adapted by James Dickey from his own best seller.

“The Longest Yard” (1974): Director Robert Aldrich’s brawny comedy-drama was one of Reynolds’ biggest hits, casting him as an ex-football-pro convict leading a prison team.

“Silent Movie” (1976): Reynolds did sly work as … Burt Reynolds, conveying everything wordlessly (as did most of the picture’s other stars) in Mel Brooks’ clever, then-contemporary tribute to early Hollywood.

“Gator” (1976): A solid example of Reynolds’ talent as a director as well, this sequel to “White Lightning” bests the original with the star’s return as Southern troubleshooter and trouble-finder Gator McKlusky.

“Smokey and the Bandit” (1977): Well, of course. Many imitators followed – including some done by Reynolds himself – but no car-chase comedy tops this hugely entertaining example, with Reynolds and his pal Jerry Reed as fast-driving partners in hauling beer across state lines illegally, joined by a wayward bride (Sally Field) and pursued by the one-and-only Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason).

“Semi-Tough” (1977): Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson had fun as rowdy football players who shared a lot, including the daughter (Jill Clayburgh) of their team’s owner.

“The End” (1978): Had he not been one of the world’s biggest box-office draws at the time, Reynolds almost certainly would have had a harder time finding backing for his offbeat tale of a suicidal man — in which he directed himself and a strong supporting cast including then-girlfriend Field, Dom DeLuise, Joanne Woodward and Carl Reiner.

“Hooper” (1978): Reynolds’ stunt-veteran pal Hal Needham directed him in this lighthearted tribute to stuntmen, with Reynolds playing (naturally) the king of them.

“Starting Over” (1979): A wonderfully subdued Reynolds stars in James L. Brooks’ script about a newly single man torn between a love-fearing schoolteacher (Clayburgh again) and the ex-wife who might want him back (Candice Bergen, knowingly singing badly … really badly).

“Paternity” (1981): A winning Reynolds portrays a playboy who decides he wants a child, with Beverly D’Angelo as the surrogate who captures his heart despite his resistance.

“The Cannonball Run” (1981): It could be argued that Reynolds was sleepwalking through this coast-to-coast auto-race comedy, but he was so linked to the genre by then, it didn’t really matter.

“Sharky’s Machine” (1981): Another terrific acting-and-directing exercise for Reynolds, this police drama benefits strongly from the supporting players enlisted as his fellow cops, including Brian Keith and Bernie Casey.

“The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” (1982): Dolly Parton largely takes care of the music, but a lot of the humor falls to Reynolds as a lawman who patronizes the title site.

“Best Friends” (1982): Reynolds and Goldie Hawn made an engaging couple as romantically linked screenwriters debating whether to wed in this underrated comedy-drama.

“The Man Who Loved Women” (1983): Critics mostly dismissed it, but director Blake Edwards’ remake of a French classic draws notably sensitive work from Reynolds as the man who … well, yes. He loved a lot of women, including Julie Andrews (Edwards’ wife) and Kim Basinger.

“Stick” (1985): Doubling as director again, Reynolds plays an ex-con working as a tycoon’s (George Segal) private security man – and the scene in which he defeats an enemy with a brandy snifter, a cigarette lighter and the line “Say goodnight” is worth the price of admission alone.

“Heat” (1986): Despite the film’s behind-the-scenes problems, Reynolds’ work as a no-nonsense Las Vegas bodyguard succeeds with admirable toughness.

“Striptease” (1996): Reynolds is a go-for-broke hoot as a politician who becomes the gleeful blackmail target of a nightclub performer (Demi Moore).

“Boogie Nights” (1997): What might be considered the true capper to Reynolds’ film career, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s drama gave him the means to score an Oscar nomination as a maker of adult films – and of careers in them.



Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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