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Burt Reynolds, Dead at 82, Had Deep Ties to South Florida

Burt Reynolds in the 2017 film The Last Movie Star.EXPAND
Burt Reynolds in the 2017 film The Last Movie Star.
Courtesy of A24
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He was known for his iconic film roles in Deliverance and Boogie Nights, as well as that unmistakable '70s porn stache. Burt Reynolds' agent announced today that the iconic film star and onetime Hollywood sex symbol died of a heart attack earlier today in Jupiter.

Reynolds was born in Lansing, Michigan, but his family moved to Florida when he was 10 years old. He attended Palm Beach High School and later played football at Florida State University. A knee injury felled his plans for a career in sports and led him to Palm Beach State College, where he was lauded for his first forays into acting.

The gruff, über-macho actor went on to score Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for his roles in blockbuster classics such as The Longest Yard and Boogie Nights. But as his career took off, he also earned notoriety as a sex symbol, particularly after posing nude in a Cosmopolitan centerfold in 1972. Reynolds admitted as recently as two years ago that he regretted posing for the magazine. "It was really stupid. I don’t know what I was thinking," he told AOL at Austin City Limits in 2016. "I really wish I hadn't done that."

As his career waned, Reynolds retreated to life in South Florida. He founded the Burt Reynolds Jupiter Theatre in 1979, where he directed and appeared in stage productions over the years. The nonprofit Burt Reynolds Institute for Film & Theatre was founded in Jupiter in 1999 with support from the actor. Its mission is to provide resources and educational opportunities for local actors, screenwriters, and filmmakers, and it's home to memorabilia from the actor's many films. This year, the institute moved to a new location at the Village Shoppes in North Palm Beach, where Reynolds' black chair in the front row will now remain empty.

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