Sally Fields was in mourning on Friday morning over the death of Burt Reynolds, who long maintained she was the love of his life despite their heart wrenching breakup decades ago.
The actress, now 71, honored his memory in a moving statement to People magazine in which she said their time together would forever remain in her memories.
“There are times in your life that are so indelible, they never fade away,” Fields said. “They stay alive, even forty years later. My years with Burt never leave my mind. He will be in my history and my heart, for as long as I live. Rest, Buddy.”
Reynolds, 82, died of cardiac arrest at a Los Angeles hospital on Thursday. His family called his death “unexpected.”
Fields and Reynolds first started dating shortly after meeting on the set of the 1977 film “Smokey and the Bandit.” They dated for nearly five years, during which time they appeared together in four films before splitting in 1982.
Despite their breakup, Reynolds admitted on numerous occasions that Fields was the “love of his life” and expressed regret that their relationship had not lasted.
“I think we would have been very happy,” he told Closer Weekly about his time with Fields. “If anybody asks about that period of my life, it was a wonderful time. I was — and still am — very proud of her.”
During an interview on “Today,” Reynolds told co-anchor Hoda Kotb that that Fields was the love of his life.
He also admitted to Vanity Fair that he missed Field “terribly” and that their breakup was hard on him even after all the years that passed.
“I don’t know why I was so stupid. Men are like that, you know. You find the perfect person, and then you do everything you can to screw it up,” he said.