Burt Reynolds Hollywood icon died at 82 on Thursday Morning after suffering cardiac arrest at Jupiter Medical Center in Florida. He was an American actor, director, and producer. He first rose to prominence starring in television series such as Gunsmoke 1962–1965, Hawk 1966, and Dan August 1970–1971.
The actor’s niece Nancy Lee Hess told Page Six on Thursday that her uncle “has had health issues,” but that his death was “totally unexpected.”
“It is with a broken heart that I said goodbye to my uncle today,” she said in a statement. “My uncle was not just a movie icon; he was a generous, passionate and sensitive man, who was dedicated to his family, friends, fans and acting students.”
She added of his “unexpected” passing, “He was tough. Anyone who breaks their tail bone on a river and finishes the movie is tough. And that’s who he was. My uncle was looking forward to working with Quentin Tarantino, and the amazing cast that was assembled for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
He began acting on television in the late 1950s, and made his film debut in Angel Baby ‘1961’. Following a regular role as Ben Frazer in Riverboat, he joined the cast of Gunsmoke as “halfbreed” blacksmith Quint Asper, and performed that role during the years just before the departure of Chester Goode and just after the appearance of Festus Haggen. He used his television work to secure leading roles for low-budget films and played the titular role in the spaghetti western Navajo Joe ‘1966’, before playing the title character in police drama Dan August ‘1970–71’.
In 1973, Reynolds released the album Ask Me What I Am and in 1983 sang along with Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.