On September 6, 2018, legendary actor Burt Reynolds died in Jupiter, Florida after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 82.
Born Burton Leon Reynolds Jr. in Lansing, Michigan, the former Florida State University football player had dreams to play pro ball, but with more than a half-century stint in the entertainment industry, he went on to become one of the best actors of an era instead. As you probably know, Burt Reynolds has plenty of career highlights, from getting a Golden Globe win and Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Deliverance, to winning an Emmy for the CBS TV show Evening Shade, to even starring in such classics as The Longest Yard, Boogie Nights, Stroker Ace, and Semi-Tough.
Many also remember Reynolds for getting his start on the shows Gunsmoke (which he famously called “the happiest period of my life”), Hawk, and Dan August, his high-profile relationships with Sally Field and Dinah Shore, his iconic centerfold in Cosmopolitan, and his marriages to Judy Carne and Loni Anderson. But, every fan of classic cars and amazing car chases will probably best remember Burt Reynolds for his roles in Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run.
So, in memory of one of the most legendary actors of all time, we’ll look back on two of the movies that helped to define his career.
Smokey and the Bandit
When it comes to the best movie car chases, Smokey and the Bandit is definitely high on most people’s lists, and for good reason. Burt Reynolds behind the wheel of the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am makes for some good ol’ fashioned movie fun that still stands the test of time to this day.
Did you know that Smokey and the Bandit was actually the second-highest-grossing film of 1977 behind Star Wars? Sure, it didn’t have the fancy special effects and all of that, but the adrenaline-pumping car chases were enough to inspire two sequels (Smokey and the Bandit II and Smokey and the Bandit Part 3) and four TV films loosely based on the original (Bandit Goes Country, Bandit Bandit, Beauty and the Bandit, and Bandit’s Silver Angel).
Did we mention that this movie had sweet car chases?
The Cannonball Run
The classic cross-country action/comedy movie The Cannonball Run is slated for a remake in 2019, but it’ll be hard to top the original. Of course, Burt Reynolds shines in his role, but you’ve also got a star-studded cast of Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Dom Deluise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Jackie Chan.
It’s action-packed, has great chase scenes, a number of classic cars, and even has some solid jokes. What’s not to love?
Remembering a Legend
Burt Reynolds had the likability of Brad Pitt and the “don’t mess with me or I’ll mess you up” look of Clint Eastwood. His filmography spans nearly 60 years, with roles in such films as The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The End, Starting Over, Mystery, Alaska, Gator, The Dukes of Hazzard, City Heat, Hooper, The Crew, Sharky’s Machine, and The Last Movie Star. Then, there was his television career, with roles in everything from Riverboat to The X-Files. Let’s not forget his stint on Broadway, or the time he guest hosted The Tonight Show in Johnny Carson’s absence.
RIP to an absolute legend.
This post was originally published on September 6, 2018.