However, TMZ reported that he died of cardiac arrest. It was unclear why he had been admitted to hospital. Though the actor lost the Oscar that year to Robin Williams, he did win a Golden Globe for the role.
With his trademark moustache, rugged looks and macho aura, he was a leading male sex symbol of the 1970s.
Reynolds is survived by his son, Quinton Anderson Reynolds. Reynolds also won plaudits for his role on the 1990s television sitcom, Evening Shade.
The Hollywood Reporter noted that he was Hollywood's top-grossing actor from 1978 until 1982.
Many of his films were set in the South.
He had a long relationship with his "Smokey and the Bandit" co-star Sally Field. He appeared in a supporting role 2005's remake with Adam Sandler.
Reynolds was the star in classics like "Smokey and the Bandit", "Boogie Knights" and "Cannonball Run". 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.
He would later call Field "the one that got away". Reynolds eventually made his debut in 1961's Angel Baby, a pulp thriller about religious zealotry in the American south.
Reynolds was born February 11, 1936, in Lansing, Michigan, and moved to Riviera, Florida, where his war-hero father Milo was the chief of police.
College football commentator Lee Corso has been known to joke about the fact that he and Reynolds were roommates at Florida State. Reynolds turned his attention to acting, moving to NY, where he struggled for several years until he landed a role in a revival of Mr. Roberts starring Charlton Heston in 1956. He also developed a reputation as a philanthropist, especially in his home state of Florida, where he helped found the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre.
His most personal role was in the 1979 comedy "Starting Over", playing the divorced Phil Potter opposite Jill Clayburgh and Candice Bergen.
"I always wanted to experience everything and go down swinging", he concluded in his memoir, as highlighted by THR. But his '60s output, which included "Navajo Joe", "100 Rifles" and "Sam Whiskey", did little to further his feature film aspirations.
He was nominated for an Oscar in 1997, for his portrayal of porn director Jack Horner in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights.
"Great to see Mr. De Niro, who I love, and. you know, all the people that I know", he said. "Every shot we did, it was like the first time [that shot had ever been done]".
Deliverance was a breakthrough performance for Reynolds, where he played one of four men who head to the wilderness for the weekend and end up in the middle of nowhere. "It wasn't original. But if you have to steal, steal from the best". But Reynolds never had any regrets for how his life turned out.