Hollywood star Burt Reynolds, known to many country music fans for his films co-starring Hall of Fame singers, died at a Florida hospital on Sept. 6, 2018 after going into cardiac arrest. He was 82 years old.
Following a stint playing football for Florida State in the late ’50s with roommate and future ESPN personality Lee Corso, Reynolds tried his hand at acting. His big breaks came a few years later through the NBC series Riverboat and in 1962 as Quint Asper on CBS’ long-running Western series Gunsmoke. He later starred as the title character of ABC series Dan August in the early ’70s. He also tried his hand at hosting, replacing Johnny Carson on a handful of episodes of the Tonight Show.
The 1972 Deep South thriller Deliverance signaled Reynolds’ arrival as a movie star and an all-American heart-throb. A string of hit comedies followed, including The Longest Yard (1974); W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975), featuring the big-screen debut of Jerry Reed; and Semi-Tough (1977), so-starring Kris Kristofferson. Reynolds also tried his hand at directing for the first time with Gator (1976), another film co-starring Reed.
Reynolds, Reed and Sally Fields’ Smokey and the Bandit franchise began in 1977, overshadowed only by a film Burt turned down, Star Wars. Reynolds was basically the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of his time by then, with nearly every movie he touched becoming a hit. That late ’70s, early ’80s run as the toast of Tinseltown included such blockbuster films as Hooper (1978), The Cannonball Run (1981) and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), co-starring Dolly Parton.
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) September 6, 2018
Since his box-office height in the ’80s, Reynolds never stopped being a respected actor, succeeding on the small screen with the Emmy-winning Evening Shade in the early ’90s and earning an Oscar nomination (best supporting actor) and a Golden Globe award for 1997’s Boogie Nights.
His relationship with music went beyond the big screen. A 1973 solo album titled Ask Me What I Am was produced by Bobby Goldsboro, but it sounds more like Baroque pop meets Jimmy Webb than traditional country music. For the Smokey and the Bandit 2 soundtrack, he cut the Nashville-friendly “Let’s Do Something Cheap and Superficial.”
Beyond his singing aspirations, Reynolds pitched in by having his former Atlanta night club Burt’s Place host live music in the late ’70s and by allowing the Allman Brothers Band to record Where It All Begins at his and ex-wife Loni Anderson’s Jupiter, Fla. ranch in 1994.
Reynolds is survived by one son, 30-year-old Quinton Anderson Reynolds.