(CNN) — Burt Reynolds, the mustachioed megastar who first strutted on screen more than half a century ago, died Thursday, according to his agent Todd Eisner.

He was 82.

The Lansing native, whose easy-going charms and handsome looks drew prominent roles in films such as “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Boogie Nights, suffered a cardiac arrest, Eisner said.

An iconic Hollywood sex symbol in front of the camera, Reynolds also tried his directorial hand behind it, and later earned a reputation for philanthropy after founding the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film & Theatre in his home state of Florida.

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21st September 1972: Film star Burt Reynolds in relaxed mood. (Photo by Terry Disney/Express/Getty Images)

His roles over the years ranged and pivoted from Southern heartthrob to tough guy to comedy, notably for his role as Rep. David Dilbeck in the 1996 film “Striptease,” which flopped at the box office but earned him widespread praise for his comedic prowess.

But it was John Boorman’s 1972 thriller “Deliverance,” which cast Reynolds as outdoorsman Lewis Medlock, that is widely credited for launching his early career.

Reynolds called it “by far” his best film.

“I thought maybe this film is more important in a lot of ways than we’ve given it credit for,” he said in an interview years later. The movie’s infamous rape scene may have helped the public — especially men — better understand the horrors of sexual attacks, Reynolds said.

“It was the only time I saw men get up, sick, and walk out of a theater,” he added. “I’ve seen women do that (before),” but not men.

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circa 1975: American actor Burt Reynolds. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

During his career, Reynolds often claimed to have been born in Waycross, Georgia, but confirmed in 2015 that he was born in Lansing, Michigan. In his autobiography he stated that Lansing is where his family lived when his father was drafted into the United States Army.

Eventually the family wound up in southeastern Florida. At Palm Beach High School, he first made a name for himself as a football star and earned an athletic scholarship to Florida State University. But when injuries derailed a promising athletic career, Reynolds turned to acting.

He then scored small parts in the late 1950s before landing a role in the New York City Center revival of “Mister Roberts” in 1957, as well as a recurring spot in the TV series “Gunsmoke.”

By 1974, Reynolds had hit it big and starred as an ex-football player who landed in prison in the film “The Longest Yard.” Two years earlier, he broke taboo and posed nude in Cosmopolitan magazine, which helped cement his growing status as a sex symbol.

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SANTA MONICA, CA – MAY 20: US actor Burt Reynolds and his son Quinton arrive for the First International World Stunt Awards 20 May, 2001 in Santa Monica, California. The World Stunt Awards honors the finest stunt men and women in the world. (Photo credit should read FREDERICK M. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

He later said he regretted that centerfold image, which showed Reynold’s spread out across a bearskin rug, and said it distracted attention from his “Deliverance” co-stars and likely cost them an Academy Award.

Reynolds’ notoriety soared through the late 1970s and 1980s, during which time he spearheaded the “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Cannonball Run” movie franchises. He also earned People’s Choice Awards in 1979, 1982 and 1983 as all-around male entertainer of the year.

But he also turned down some of the biggest roles in Hollywood history.

From James Bond to Hans Solo in George Lucas’ 1977 blockbuster “Star Wars,” Reynolds also reportedly was among Paramount Pictures’ top choices to play Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 epic “The Godfather.”

Again, the star expressed regrets.

“I took the part that was the most fun… I didn’t take the part that would be the most challenging,” Reynolds said in an interview with CNN.

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His love life also drew headlines after a high-profile divorce to actress Loni Anderson preceded Reynolds bankruptcy filing in 1996, amid a budding romance with actor Sally Field.

A year later, Anderson released her version of events in a tell-all book called “My Life in High Heels.”

In 1998, Reynolds scored his sole Oscar nomination for best supporting actor after his portrayal of a porn film producer in the film “Boogie Nights,” despite his dislike of the film and its apparent glorification of the porn industry.

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 18: Actor Burt Reynolds holds his Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in the drama category for his role in “Boogie Nights” at the 55th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton ,18 January, in Beverly Hills, CA. (Photo credit should read HAL GARB/AFP/Getty Images)

Years later, with a mustache gone gray, he suffered from health issues that included open heart surgery. Reynolds also checked into a drug rehab clinic in 2009. The purpose was “to regain control of his life” after becoming addicted to painkillers prescribed following back surgery, his manager said.

Once among Hollywood’s highest-paid actors, Reynolds later fell into financial trouble amid private ventures in an Atlanta restaurant and a professional sports team, though he continued to make cameo appearances and teach acting classes.

“I worked as an actor for 60 years, I must have something I can give,” he told Morgan.

CNN’s Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

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