The actor passed away this morning with family at his hospital bedside after suffering a suspected heart attack.
The Michigan-born star spent nearly five years as the No.1 box office attraction in America in the 1970s.
He was nominated for an Oscar in 1997 after playing fictional porn Director Jack Horner in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights.
He famously turned down the roles of Han Solo in Star Wars and John McClane in Die Hard.
Burt was born in Michigan on 11 Febuary 1936, but grew up in Florida after his dad got a job in the Riviera Beach police department.
He played football at Florida State University in the 1950s, before his professional football hopes were dashed by injuries suffered in a car crash.
He moved to New York in the 1950s to pursue a career as an actor, landing several minor stage and TV roles before making his big screenm debut in 1961.
Reynolds often was cast in Westerns, including the popular "Gunsmoke" television series in the 1960s.
In 1972, the same year "Deliverance" was released, he showed versatility by also starring in Woody Allen's comedy "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask."
He married actress Judy Carne in 1963, but divorced her two years later.
He then had a five-year fling with Forrest Gump star Sally Field, which ended in 1982.
in 1988 Burt married Loni Anderson in 1988, adopting a son, Quinton, with her before divorcing in 1993.
Reynolds' final film appearance will be in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming Once Upon A Time In Hollywood alongside Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger led an avalanche of tributes to the Hollywood icon, tweeting: "Burt Reynolds was one of my heroes.
"He was a trailblazer. He showed the way to transition from being an athlete to being the highest paid actor, and he always inspired me.
"He also had a great sense of humor - check out his Tonight Show clips.
"My thoughts are with his family."
Burt Reynolds was one of my heroes. He was a trailblazer. He showed the way to transition from being an athlete to being the highest paid actor, and he always inspired me. He also had a great sense of humor - check out his Tonight Show clips. My thoughts are with his family.— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) September 6, 2018
Mark Wahlberg - who starred in the Reynolds-directed mockumentary The Dirk Diggler Story - tweeted "Rest in peace to a legend and a friend. #BurtReynolds"
Director Jim Michaels told his followers: “You were always a very kind person to work with Mr.#BurtReynolds You took the time to introduce yourself to everyone on the crew & I’ll never forget that.
"Your smile, creative generosity and signature laugh always made our days at work some of the best I have ever had! Thank You.”
Steve Harvey added: “Very sad to hearing about the passing of Burt Reynolds.
"He was a great actor, a philanthropist and a pioneer of the cool moustache. Thank you, Burt. You will be missed.”