ACTOR BURT REYNOLDS DEAD, 82

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His first career of sorts was in sports, being an American football player in high school and college. Game injuries saw him leave and take up acting in theatre, finding himself in Broadway before breaking into the silver screen and television, particularly westerns like “Gunsmoke” and action movies like “Deliverance”. He became notorious for the naked bearskin centerfold photo on “Cosmopolitan Magazine” in 1972, cementing his image as a sex symbol of that decade and the next. Comedy also became one of his trademark roles, as with “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Cannonball Run”. Legendary actor Burt Reynolds is known for all these and more; and now, he is gone.

Variety has it that Burt Reynolds passed away just this Thursday, September 6, at a hospital in Jupiter, Florida. A representative confirms that the Hollywood actor had succumbed to cardiac arrest at the age of 82. Reynolds’ niece Nancy Lee Harris later released a statement regarding her uncle’s passing. “My uncle was not just a movie icon; he was a generous, passionate and sensitive man,” she said. “He has had health issues; however, this was totally unexpected. He was tough. Anyone who breaks their tail bone on a river and finishes the movie is tough. And that’s who he was.”

The cause of Reynolds’ death was understandable given his recent history of heart-related health problems later in life according to his representative. In 2010 he had major heart surgery, and since then he had been in and out of medical care. Difficulty in breathing and chest pains while he was at home led to a 911 call in Thursday to bring him to the hospital. He died there surrounded by his family. Reynolds is survived by ex-wife Loni Anderson and their only son Quinton, whom Anderson says will miss his father and his great laugh.

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Easily remembered for his hairy masculinity and a distinctive mustache, Burt Reynolds once ruled the big screen in the 1970s; for five years he starred in blockbusters opposite the likes of Jill Clayburgh, Dolly Parton, Goldie Hawn and Julie Andrews. He was also savvy in motion picture proprieties, well remembered for turning down a chance to play James Bond 007 from the franchise producer Albert R. Broccoli himself, stating that “An American can’t play James Bond. It just can’t be done.” His limited voice acting roles were also highly-acclaimed, from Charlie in “All Dogs Go to Heaven” to characters in “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” and “Saints Row the Third”.

Before his untimely death Reynolds was set to appear in a cameo role on the Quentin Tarantino film project “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. He passed away before any of his scenes were shot.

Images from Entertainment Tonight and ABC AU

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