"My doctor said I needed to undergo bypass surgery immediately", he told People at the time. In fact, the role of the former Astronaut in Terms of Endearment was specifically written for Reynolds but he passed it over to do the race auto film, Stroker Ace.
Reynolds had visited New Zealand to make the 2004 film Without a Paddle, alongside Seth Green. "But you can't regret things like that, you have to move on", Reynolds said. "By the time I finally woke up and tried to get it right, nobody would give me a chance". "I've seen women do that (before)", but not men.
Born in Lansing, Michigan on February 11, 1936, Reynolds moved to South Florida in 1946, when his father became police chief in Riviera Beach.
Reynolds, who starred in movies like "Smokey and the Bandit", "Deliverance", and "The Longest Yard", was 82. He felt he ruined his chances for an Oscar nomination at the time because of his famous bearskin rug nude photo.
Reynolds also won a Golden Dlobe for television show "Evening Shade" in 1992. It was 1977's Smokey and the Bandit that truly made Reynolds the star we all think of today.
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Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson and Dom DeLuise at The 43rd Primetime Emmy Awards on August 25, 1991 at Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California.
Smokey and the Bandit opened the same year Star Wars hit theaters. And there's one thing they can never take away: "Nobody had more fun than I did".
With his sex symbol good looks and mischievous, self-deprecating sense of humor, Reynolds always seemed like a shoe-in for big-screen stardom.
He is survived by adopted son Quinton from his second marriage. Reynolds had lived in Florida for many years and had suffered ill health in recent years.
Reynolds has also become well known for the roles that he turned down over the years. The goal was "to regain control of his life" after becoming addicted to painkillers prescribed following back surgery, his manager said.