Burt Reynolds, the Hollywood icon and sex symbol of the 1970s, died on September 6, 2018, at the age of 82.
He reportedly suffered a heart attack at a hospital in Florida, where he was taken after experiencing chest pain.
His death was sudden and unexpected, leaving his fans and colleagues in shock and grief.
But was his death preventable? Could he have avoided the cardiac arrest that claimed his life?
To answer these questions, we need to look at his life story, his career achievements, his personal struggles, and his legacy.
Burt Reynolds’ Early Life and Career
Burt Reynolds was born in Lansing, Michigan, on February 11, 1936. His father was a police chief after the service. Early in life, his family relocated to Florida, where he excelled in athletics and acting. He was a football scholarship player at Florida State University until a vehicle accident crippled his knee. After attending acting courses at a local college, he won a scholarship to a New York theater.
His acting career began in the late 1950s with TV and Broadway roles. His first major break came in 1962 when he played half-Comanche blacksmith Quint Asper on Gunsmoke. He became famous after three seasons on the program. He later played Native American investigator Hawk and police officer Dan August in another TV series.
Deliverance, a 1972 thriller about Lewis Medlock, a macho explorer who takes a group of friends on a canoe expedition that turns into a nightmare, launched his career. Reynolds became famous when the picture won three Oscar nominations. He became one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors by appearing in popular movies that displayed his charm, comedy, and action talents. His most notable films were The Longest Yard (1974), Smokey and the Bandit (1977), The Cannonball Run (1981), and Sharky’s Machine (1981), which he directed.
He has faced lows in his career. Some of his performances and projects were box-office bombs or critical flops. Younger 1980s stars competed with him. He lost popularity and failed to get decent parts.
Personal Life and Health Struggles
Reynolds had a turbulent personal life that was often in the spotlight. He was married twice: first to actress Judy Carne from 1963 to 1965, and then to actress Loni Anderson from 1988 to 1994. He also had several high-profile relationships with celebrities such as Dinah Shore, Sally Field, and Tammy Wynette. He had one son, Quinton, whom he adopted with Anderson.
Reynolds also had many health problems throughout his life. He suffered from back pain, arthritis, TMJ disorder, hepatitis C, and addiction to painkillers. He underwent several surgeries and treatments for his condition. He also faced financial troubles due to bad investments, lawsuits, and divorces. He filed for bankruptcy in 1996 and had to sell many of his assets.
Legacy of Burt Reynolds
Despite his hardships, Reynolds never gave up on acting. He made a comeback in 1997 with his role as Jack Horner, a porn film director who mentors a young star, in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights. The film was a critical and commercial hit, earning Reynolds an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe Award for the same category. He also won several other awards and accolades for his performance.
He continued to work in TV and film until his death, appearing in shows such as The X-Files (2002), My Name Is Earl (2006), Burn Notice (2010), Archer (2012), Hitting the Breaks (2016), and The Last Movie Star (2017). He also taught acting at his own institute in Florida.
Reynolds left behind a legacy of being one of the most influential and versatile actors of his generation. He was known for his charm, wit, style, and talent. He inspired many other actors who followed him. He received many honors for his contributions to the entertainment industry, such as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (1978), an induction into the Western Performers Hall of Fame (2022), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild (2023).
Burt Reynolds’ Death and Tributes
Reynolds passed away at Jupiter Medical Center in Florida on September 6, 2018, after a heart attack. His agent, Todd Eisner, confirmed his passing, calling it “heartbreaking.” Although he had health problems, his death was “totally unexpected,” according to his niece, Nancy Lee Hess. She also said that he was excited to work with Quentin Tarantino and the cast of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, a film in which he was cast but never got to film any of his sequences.
His death sent shockwaves across the entertainment industry and his devoted fan base. Many famous people and their colleagues expressed their condolences and affection for him in interviews and online tributes. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolly Parton, Mark Wahlberg, Sally Field, Kevin Bacon, Goldie Hawn, Steve Harvey, Adam Sandler, and Quentin Tarantino are just a few of the celebrities who have paid tribute to him.
Since heart attacks may occur quickly and without warning, Reynolds’s death could not have been avoided. However, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, stress, and family history are all risk factors that might raise the likelihood of having a heart attack. Risk factors including smoking and stress were present in Reynolds’ life. Furthermore, he had a history of cardiac issues and had bypass surgery in 2010.
As a result, Reynolds’ risk of a heart attack may have been minimized if he had properly cared for his health and adopted a healthier lifestyle. There’s really no telling whether he could have prevented it altogether. Anyone, at any moment, may have a heart attack due to the complexity and unpredictability of the condition.
Many people all across the globe were heartbroken by the news of Reynolds’ passing. Everyone who knew him would agree that he was a legend and a true friend. His incredible career, kind nature, and rich legacy will be long remembered. Burt Reynolds, you will be missed. You will remain in our thoughts and prayers.