R.I.P. Burt Reynolds of Smokey and the Bandit and Gunsmoke
When you saw Burt Reynolds cast in a movie, you knew you were in for a ride. That's because movies like Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run were so much fun, but the actor was perhaps even more famous for his dramatic roles in films like Deliverance and Boogie Nights. With chiseled features and a smile like a schoolboy's, Reynolds could play any part as a seasoned entertainer and make us grin or set us on edge. And it probably has something to do with the actor's early start in television.
Reynolds' first major role on the small screen was on Gunsmoke, where he played Quint Asper from 1962 to 1965. His character was half-Comanche, and we first meet him at his most brutal, killing people off to avenge the death of his father. Matt Dillon sees the good in the boy, though, and helps to bring him into the Dodge City fold as a blacksmith. For fans of Gunsmoke, Reynolds' Quint threw a spark into the show.
Before Gunsmoke, Reynolds had been cast in another short-lived Western called Riverboat, but it's more likely viewers recall his riveting turns on hit shows like Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchock Presents. In the spring before Reynolds' Gunsmoke debut, he also appeared on the Route 66 episode "Love Is a Skinny Kid," about a woman who arrives in a small Texas town wearing a mysterious mask she refuses to remove.
After Reynolds left Gunsmoke, he starred in two different detective series that failed to take off, Hawk and Dan August. This actually turned out to work out in the actor's favor as it freed him up to be cast in movies instead. The same year Dan August ended, Deliverance made Reynolds a movie star.
On Thursday, September 6, Burt Reynolds passed away at the age of 82. His charisma, his characters, and his speedy cars will ensure he's an icon forever.