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Burt Reynolds Is Determined to Stay Strong as He Struggles With Illness

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Iconic actor Burt Reynolds has long been considered one of Hollywood’s most legendary macho men with his gruff demeanor, ever-present smirk, and that signature mustache. But when the Smokey and the Bandit star stepped out in May 2015 for a rare public appearance at Wizard World Comic Con in Philadelphia, his usual swagger was noticeably absent.

"He looked weak and frail," an eyewitness told Closer Weekly of the actor at the time, who walked with the help of a cane. "People were concerned about his health."

Burt at Comic Con on May 9, 2015. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

There’s no doubt decades of illnesses and injuries have taken a toll on Burt — and it’s only getting worse. "Burt has health problems on so many fronts and they’re slowly eating away at him," a friend revealed to Closer.

Now, two years later, Burt stepped out again looking noticeably unrecognizable at age 81. Throughout the rare public appearance for the Dog Years premiere in NYC in April 2017, the actor was noticeably having difficulty walking and relied on his cane most of the time.

However, despite the circumstances, Burt is not giving up on his health. "Burt is one of the last of his era — a genuine tough guy," says an insider. "The last thing he would ever want is for people to feel sorry for him."

Burt on April 22. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In a previous interview, Burt confessed to Closer that's he's thrilled to have made it to his 80s. "I’m happy... because the alternative is pretty grim!" he said in February 2016. "I don’t feel my age. It’s just a number," he continued.

A close friend of Burt's added, "As long as his body is willing, he wants to continue acting until the day he dies. Burt believes, despite his aches and pains, he still has a lot of living left to do."

He’ll need every last ounce of that fighting spirit. Repeated bumps and blows — Burt performed many of his own dangerous film stunts during his career — have left his body battered, requiring back surgery in 2009 (and a stint in rehab for the subsequent addiction to painkillers). Feel better, Burt!

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