With his passing, one of filmdom’s greatest icons is gone, but what an incredible Hollywood success story! The career of Burt Reynolds spanned an incredible 60 years, beginning with guest-starring roles on TV series and a couple of shows of his own. But with an eye always locked towards the big screen, he made that leap and over the course of a decade became one of the most popular movie stars in the world. In the latter part of his life, as leading man roles eluded him, he transitioned over to becoming more of a character actor — and it’s an amazing legacy he’s left us.
Burt is Smokey and the Bandit. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Today’s moviegoers may not realize it, but Burt — born Burton Leon Reynolds on Feb. 11, 1936, in Lansing, MI — starred in some truly amazing movies that really connected with audiences. Among them are the still-disturbing Deliverance, the ultimate “good ole boy” adventure Smokey and the Bandit, the prison drama The Longest Yard, and a drama set within the porn industry, Boogie Nights, which represented one of his most nuanced performances and even earned him an Academy Award nomination.
In between, he proved himself pretty fearless, tackling a wide diversity of roles. There were romantic comedies and dramas (Starting Over and Paternity), westerns galore (100 Rifles and The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing), black comedies (The End), private eye flicks (Shamus and Sharky’s Machine), lots of fast-paced road trips (White Lightning, Gator and The Cannonball Run), and even a musical (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas). Along the way, he was offered the role of James Bond for 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — which he turned down because he felt Bond had to be British — and the Man of Steel in 1978’s Superman: The Movie, believing he would look ridiculous wearing the character’s blue and red tights (he was right).
Burt and ex-wife Loni. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
In his private life, Burt was married to Laugh In actress Judy Carne from 1963 to 1965, and then to WKRP‘s Loni Anderson from 1988 to 1993. Burt and Loni adopted a son named Quinton during their union. Between the two was his famous love affair with actress Sally Field — his Smokey and the Bandit co-star — who he says was, and could have very well still been, the true love of his life.
What follows is our complete guide to all of his films, from 1961 to 2019.