R.I.P. Burt Reynolds: Cardiac Arrest Claims an Icon

Sadly, the world lost yet another Hollywood Icon yesterday. Burt Reynolds passed away at the age of 82, in Florida, from sudden cardiac arrest.

His passing came as a shock to family and friends. His neice wrote, “It is with a broken heart that I said goodbye to my uncle today. 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 said. “He has had health issues, however, this was totally unexpected. He was tough. Anyone who breaks their tail bone on a river and finishes the movie is tough. And that’s who he was.”

Burt Reynolds was born in Michigan, February 11, 1936. He played football for Florida State University before trying to break into Hollywood as an actor. His career was a roller coaster ride of sorts, from feuding with studios and fellow actors, losing rolls, becoming a major sex symbol, carrying out a nasty, public divorce from Loni Anderson, winning many “break-out” roles, then dealing with rumors of financial and health issues.

No matter what was happening in Burt’s life, he worked hard to maintain his charismatic, confident and humorous persona that could be seen throughout his work and in the words he spoke. He once said,” My movies were the kind they show in prisons and airplanes, because nobody can leave.” Burt’s passion as an actor was contagious for those he worked with. When describing how he convinced Sally Field to star in ‘Smokey and the Bandit’, he said, “She first said no. And I called her and I said, ‘I know why said no. You think it’s a silly movie with cars chasing each other and all that crap. But I don’t see it as that. I see as a chance to work with the best young actress on the planet. But go ahead if you want to go ahead and say no.’ And she went, ‘How the hell am I going to say no to that?'”

After back surgery in 2009, Reynolds had to undergo heart surgery, called quintuple coronary artery bypass surgery. From 2010 on, he lost many of his homes and properties to foreclosure and bankruptsy. Last March, 2018, he told the New York Times, “I don’t know why I think this, but maybe I’ve got my best work ahead. Maybe I’ll be putting my teeth in the glass, and maybe it will be a very different kind of role, but I want to do something where I’m not driving a car or a truck, where it’s real.”

Some of Burt Reynold’s greatest movies were Smokey and the Bandit (1977),  Deliverance, Boogie Nights (1997), The Longest Yard (2005), The Dukes of Hazzard (2005), and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He had most recently taken a part in a new Quentin Tarantino film called ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’. Unfortunately, he passed away before shooting his scenes. He once wrote, “If I had to put only one of my movies in a time capsule, it would be Deliverance. I don’t know if it’s the best acting I’ve done, but it’s the best movie I’ve ever been in. It proved I could act, not only to the public but me.”

Sudden Cardiac Arrest claims the lives of over 400,000 people per year in the United States. Burt Reynolds is one of many celebrities and well-know public figures that have lost their lives to SCA. Whether it was the lone cause of death, or just one factor, among other health issues. Here are just a few well known SCA victims that left their mark on our society and history:

  • Michael Jackson
  • Brittany Murphy
  • Mother Theresa
  • James Stewart
  • Stanley Kubrick
  • Christopher Reeve
  • George Burns
  • Tom Sims

Blog By Blaire CzarnieckiWritten by Blaire Czarniecki
Customer Service Director

Fact checked by Phillip Woods, BA, NREMT-P, FP-C

Blaire attended the University of Tennessee where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology- Child and Family Studies. She has been in the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) industry for over eight years and is the Director of Customer Service for Coro Medical. Blaire is also an American Red Cross-certified CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor, highly trained by each manufacturer on their specific AEDs, and knowledgeable regarding ALL State AED regulations and legislation.

“I know that every day I come to work, I am playing a part in saving someone’s life. I am passionate about these devices and am always looking for new and innovative ways to spread awareness and knowledge about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). I look forward to the day when everywhere I go, I will see an AED—when SCA will no longer take any lives.”

Last updated September 7, 2018

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