William Smith (actor)
William Smith (March 24, 1933 – July 5, 2021) was an American actor. In a Hollywood career spanning more than 75 years, he appeared in almost three hundred feature films and television productions in a wide variety of character roles, with his best known role being the menacing Anthony Falconetti in the 1970s television mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man. Smith is also known for films like Any Which Way You Can (1980), Conan The Barbarian (1982), Rumble Fish (1983), and Red Dawn (1984), as well as lead roles in several exploitation films during the 1970s.
|Born||March 24, 1933|
Columbia, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||July 5, 2021 (aged 88)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Other names||Big Bill Smith|
|Spouse(s)||Michele Smith (m. 1969; div.)|
|Children||William E. Smith III |
Sherri Anne Cervelli
Life and careerEdit
Smith was born on March 24, 1933 in Columbia, Missouri, to William Emmett Smith and Emily Richards Smith, and grew up on the cattle ranch owned by his parents. His family later moved to Southern California, where he began his acting career at the age of eight in 1942; entering films as a child actor in such films as The Ghost of Frankenstein, The Song of Bernadette and Meet Me in St. Louis.
Smith served in the United States Air Force. He won the 200-pound (91 kg) arm-wrestling championship of the world multiple times and also won the United States Air Force weightlifting championship. A lifelong bodybuilder, Smith is a record holder for reverse-curling his own body weight. His trademark arms measured as much as 19+1⁄2 inches. Smith held a 31–1 record as an amateur boxer.
During the Korean War he was a Russian Intercept Interrogator and flew secret ferret missions over the Russian SFSR. He had both CIA and NSA clearance and intended to enter a classified position with the U.S. government, but while he was working on his doctorate studies he landed an acting contract with MGM.
In the years from 1961 to 2014, Smith established himself as a prolific character actor with roles in a diverse range of genres. Although he was often typecast as an anti-social personality, he sporadically got other kinds of roles as a law enforcement officer or an anti-heroic protagonist.
He was a regular on the 1961 ABC television series The Asphalt Jungle, portraying police Sergeant Danny Keller. In 1964, he appeared in the episode "The Rope of Lies" as Bill, a ranch hand from the Shiloh Ranch in the syndicated television series The Virginian. One of his earliest leading roles was as Joe Riley, a good-natured Texas Ranger on the NBC western series Laredo (1965–1967). In 1967, Smith guest starred as Jude Bonner on James Arness's long-lived western Gunsmoke.
Smith was cast as John Richard Parker, brother of Cynthia Ann Parker, both taken hostage in Texas by the Comanche, in "The Understanding" (1969), an episode of Death Valley Days. In the story line, Parker contracts the plague, is left for dead by his fellow Comanche warriors, and is rescued by his future Mexican wife, Yolanda (Emily Banks).
He played the outlaw turned temporary sheriff Hendry Brown in the 1969 episode "The Restless Man". In that story line, Brown takes the job of sheriff to tame a lawless town, begins to court a young woman (again played by Emily Banks), but soon returns to his deadly outlaw ways in search of bigger thrills.
On Gunsmoke, Smith appeared in a 1972 episode, "Hostage!"; his character beats and rapes Amanda Blake's character Miss Kitty Russell and shoots her twice in the back. Smith has been described as the "greatest bad-guy character actor of our time".
Smith joined the cast of the final season of Hawaii Five-O as Detective James "Kimo" Carew, a new officer in the Five-O unit. He had previously appeared with Jack Lord in Stoney Burke. Smith starred in one episode each of the Adam West Batman TV series (in the episode "Minerva, Mayhem and Millionaires" as Adonis, one of the minions of the title guest villainess portrayed by Zsa Zsa Gabor), I Dream of Jeannie (in the episode "Operation: First Couple on the Moon" as Turk Parker), Kung Fu, and as The Treybor, a ruthless warlord, in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Buck's Duel to the Death". Smith also made guest appearances opposite James Garner in the 1974 two-hour pilot for The Rockford Files (titled "Backlash of the Hunter" and also featuring Lindsay Wagner and Bill Mumy), and George Peppard in The A-Team (in two appearances as different characters, in the first season's "Pros and Cons" and the fourth season's "The A-Team Is Coming, The A-Team Is Coming").
In the 1976 television miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man, he portrayed Anthony Falconetti, nemesis of the Jordache family, and reprised the role in the sequel Rich Man, Poor Man Book II. Other 1970s TV appearances included the Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "The Energy Eater", as an Indian medicine man who advises Kolchak, and an early Six Million Dollar Man episode "Survival of the Fittest" as Commander Maxwell. He also appeared in the 1979 miniseries The Rebels as John Waverly, in an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard as Jason Steele, a bounty hunter hired by Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane to frame the Duke Boys into jail, and in an episode of Knight Rider as Harold Turner, the manipulative leader of a hellish biker gang whom David Hasselhoff's character Michael Knight has to outsmart.
On the big screen, Smith became the star of several cult movies from the early seventies. Smith appeared as heavy Terry Bartell in Darker than Amber in 1970. In the fist fight scene that ends the film Rod Taylor hit Smith (who was playing the villain) who retaliated in kind, and a staged fight scene became a real fight as the cameras continued to roll. Smith later reported that Taylor was "a very tough guy" who broke three of his ribs while he broke Taylor's nose.
Also in 1970, Smith featured in two biker flicks Nam's Angels (originally released under the title "The Losers") co-starring Bernie Hamilton and C.C. and Company with Ann-Margret, Joe Namath, Jennifer Billingsley and genre favorite Sid Haig, the latter of which was directed by Seymour Robbie and written by Ann-Margret's husband, actor Roger Smith. He starred in 1972's Grave of the Vampire as James Eastman (co-starring with Michael Pataki and Lyn Peters), and 1973's Invasion of the Bee Girls (co-starring Victoria Vetri, Anitra Ford and Katie Saylor, written by Nicholas Meyer and directed by Denis Sanders), and 1975's The Swinging Barmaids (starring Ms. Saylor, Bruce Watson and Laura Hippe, and directed by Gus Trikonis). In 1972 and 1975, respectively, he appeared in two popular Blaxploitation films, Hammer and the controversially titled Boss Nigger, both with Fred Williamson.
After that, he played a vindictive sergeant in Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977) with an all-star cast headed by Burt Lancaster and Richard Widmark, a drag-racing legend in Fast Company (1979) also co-starring Claudia Jennings and John Saxon, the main character's father in Conan the Barbarian (1982) with Arnold Schwarzenegger, bad guy Matt Diggs in The Frisco Kid (1979) opposite Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford, and Clint Eastwood's bare-knuckle nemesis Jack Wilson in 1980's Any Which Way You Can (a sequel to 1978's Every Which Way But Loose in which Smith did not appear), and also had a top villainous role of the Soviet commander in the hit 1984 theatrical film Red Dawn. In 1983, Smith appeared in two films from Francis Ford Coppola, in The Outsiders as a store clerk and in Rumble Fish as a police officer. In 1985, Smith landed the starring role of Brodie Hollister in the Disney mini-series Wildside, created by writer-producer Tom Greene, and another role as the bookmaker's enforcer known as "Panama Hat" in director Richard Brooks's final movie, Fever Pitch (1985) opposite Ryan O'Neal.
In 2009, Smith published The Poetic Works of William Smith.
On July 5, 2021, Smith died at the age of 88 at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Los Angeles.
|1942||The Ghost of Frankenstein||Village Boy in Courtroom||Uncredited|
|1964||Combat!||German Sergeant||Episode: "Eyes of the Hunter"|
|1968||Batman||Adonis||Episode: "Minerva, Mayhem and Millionaires"|
|1970||C.C. and Company||Moon|
|1972||Grave of the Vampire||James Eastman|
|1973||Invasion of the Bee Girls||Neil Agar|
|1974||Planet of the Apes||Tolar||Episode: "The Gladiators"|
|1979-80||Hawaii Five-O||Det. James 'Kimo' Carew||19 Episodes|
|1980||Any Which Way You Can||Jack Wilson|
|1981||Dukes of Hazzard||Jason Steele|
|1982||Conan the Barbarian||Conan's Father|
|1983||Rumble Fish||Patterson the Cop|
|1983||The A-Team||Jase Tataro||Episode: "Pros and Cons"|
|1986||The Twilight Zone||Guard||Segment "Shadow Play"|
|1986||The A-Team||Dimitri Shasta Kovich||Episode: "The A-Team Is Coming, the A-Team Is Coming"|
|1988||Maniac Cop||Captain Ripley|
|1988||Hell Comes To Frogtown||Devlin/Count Sodom|
|1989||L.A. Vice||Capt. Joe Wilkes|
|1996||Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny||Sable man||Voice, Uncredited|
|2002||Justice League||Draaga||Voice, Episode: "War World" Parts I & II|
|2005||Hell to Pay||Emil Brax|
|2009||Wanted: Weapons of Fate||Voice, Video game|
|2014||Rock n' Roll Cops Lite||Rinaldi||Archive Footage|
|Island of Witches||Vladislav Titov|
- The Song of Bernadette (1943) as Townsman (uncredited)
- Going My Way (1944) as Choir Member (uncredited)
- Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) as Little Boy (uncredited)
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) as Boy (uncredited)
- Gilda (1946) as Man (uncredited)
- I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now (1947) as Young Boy (uncredited)
- The Boy with Green Hair (1948) as Boy (uncredited)
- Saturday's Hero (1951) (uncredited)
- High School Confidential (1958) as Minor Role (uncredited)
- The Mating Game (1959) as Barney
- Ask Any Girl (1959) as Young Man (uncredited)
- Girls Town (1959) as Man (uncredited)
- Never So Few (1959) as MP Officer #1 (uncredited)
- The Gazebo (1959) as Actor (uncredited)
- Go Naked in the World (1961) as Minor Role
- Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961) as Captain of the Guard
- Mail Order Bride (1964) as Lank
- Three Guns for Texas (1968) as Texas Ranger Joe Riley
- The Banditos (1968)
- Run, Angel, Run! (1969) as Angel
- Nam's Angels (1970) as Link Thomas
- Angels Die Hard (1970) as Tim
- Darker than Amber (1970) as Terry
- C.C. and Company (1970) as Moon
- Summertree (1971) as Draft Lawyer
- Chrome and Hot Leather (1971) as T.J.
- The Thing with Two Heads (1972) as Hysterical Condemned Man
- Grave of the Vampire (1972) as James Eastman
- Hammer (1972) as Brenner
- Piranha, Piranha (1972) as Caribe
- Runaway, Runaway (1972) as Frank
- Gentle Savage (1973) as Camper John Allen
- Sweet Jesus, Preacherman (1973) as Martelli
- Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973) as Neil Agar
- The Last American Hero (1973) as Kyle Kingman
- The Deadly Trackers (1973) as Schoolboy
- A Taste of Hell (1973) as Jack Lowell
- Policewomen (1974) as The Karate Instructor / Karate Instructor
- Black Samson (1974) as Johnny Nappa
- Win, Place or Steal (1974) as Tom
- ”The Rockford Files” (1974) ‘Backlash of the Hunter’ as Jerry Grimes
- Boss Nigger (1975) as Jed Clayton
- The Swinging Barmaids (1975) as Lt. Harry White
- The Ultimate Warrior (1975) as Carrot
- Dr. Minx (1975) as Gus Dolan
- Scorchy (1976) as Carl Henrich
- Hollywood Man (1976) as Rafe Stoker
- Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977) as Hoxey
- Blood and Guts (1978) as Dan O'Neil
- Blackjack (1978) as Andy Mayfield
- Fast Company (1979) as Lonnie 'Lucky Man' Johnson
- The Frisco Kid (1979) as Matt Diggs
- Seven (1979) as Drew Savano
- The Cop Killers (1981)
- The Outsiders (1983) as Store Clerk
- Red Dawn (1984) as Strelnikov
- Wildside (1985, TV Series) as Brodie Hollister
- The Mean Season (1985) as Albert O'Shaughnessy
- When Nature Calls (1985) as The Husband ("Gena's Story" trailer)
- Fever Pitch (1985) as "Panama Hat"
- Eye of the Tiger (1986) as Blade
- Commando Squad (1987) as Morgan Denny
- Moon in Scorpio (1987) as Burt
- The Badd One (1987) as Badd
- Bulletproof (1988) as Russian Major
- Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988) as Captain Devlin / Count Sodom
- Platoon Leader (1988) as Major Flynn
- Hell on the Battleground (1988) as Col. Meredith
- Evil Altar (1988) as Reed Weller
- The Kill Machine (1988) as Boris Katunik
- Jungle Assault (1989) as General Mitchell
- Slow Burn (1989) as Antonio Scarpelli
- Action U.S.A. (1989) as Conover
- Empire of Ash III (1989) as Lucas
- Terror in Beverly Hills (1989) as President
- Memorial Valley Massacre (1989) as Gen. Mintz
- East L.A. Warriors (1989) as Martelli
- B.O.R.N. (1989) as Dr. Farley
- Deadly Breed (1989) as Captain
- Instant Karma (1990) as Pop
- Emperor of the Bronx (1990) as Fitz
- Cartel (1990) as Mason
- Chance (1990) as Captain Joe Wilkes
- The Final Sanction (1990) as Maj. Galashkin
- Highway Warrior (1990)
- Forgotten Heroes (1990) as General Gregori Zelenkov
- Spirit of the Eagle (1991) as Hatchett
- The Roller Blade Seven (1991) as Pharaoh
- Merchant of Evil (1991) as Victor Fortunetti
- Kiss and Be Killed (1991) as Det. Murdoch
- Hard Time Romance (1991)
- Cybernator (1991) as Colonel Peck
- Feast (1992) as Det. George Bordelli
- The Last Riders (1992) as Hammer
- American Me (1992) as Deacon
- Shadow of the Dragon (1992) as Eric Brunner
- The Legend of the Roller Blade Seven (1992) as Pharaoh
- Legend of Skull Canyon (1992) as Conchos Charlie
- Feast (1992) as Det. George Bordelli
- Dark Secrets (1992) as Robert
- A Mission to Kill (1992) as Boris Catuli
- Return of the Roller Blade Seven (1993) as Pharaoh
- Road to Revenge (1993) as Normad
- Maverick (1994) as Riverboat Poker Player
- Manosaurus (1994) as Sheriff Todd
- Taken Alive (1995) as L.E.
- Raw Energy (1995) as Sam Stompkins
- Judee Strange (1995) as Judee
- Big Sister 2000 (1995) as The Man
- Uncle Sam (1996) as Major
- Neon Signs (1996) as Clyde
- Hollywood Cops (1997) as Rinaldi
- The Shooter (1997) as Jerry Krants
- Interview with a Zombie (1997) as Zombie
- Ground Zero (1997)
- Doublecross on Costa's Island (1997) as L. E.
- Broken Vessels (1998) as Bo
- Warriors of the Apocolypse (1998) as Moon
- No Rest for the Wicked (1998) as Frank Love
- Blood of His Own (1998)
- Wasteland Justice (1999) as Moon
- Vice (2000) as Spooky Harlow
- Plastic Boy and the Jokers (2000) as Doctor Taylor
- Never Look Back (2000)
- The Elite (2001) as Colonel Shaw
- Body Shop (2002) as Sheriff Taggart
- God Has a Rap Sheet (2003) as Lucifer
- Y.M.I. (2004) as Cal
- Killer Story (2004) as Monty – 'The Wrap'
- Voices from the Graves (2006) as Lester Jiggs
- Inner Rage (2006) as Sam
- Rapturious (2007) as Sheriff
- The Boneyard Collection (2008)
- Tiger Cage (2012) as Katulic
- Irresistible (2020)
- Medina, Eduardo (July 11, 2021). "William Smith, Action Star Known for His Onscreen Brawls, Dies at 88". New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
- Hal Erickson (2016). "William Smith". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on 2014-03-23.
- ""The Understanding" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved July 11, 2015.
- "A Restless Man on Death Valley Days". tv.com. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "Gunsmoke "Hostage!"". William Smith Official Fan Site. December 11, 1972. Archived from the original on April 1, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
- Tal, Tim (April 1, 2010). "William Smith: My fight with Clint Eastwood was longest two-man fight scene on screen". BZ Film. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
- Louis Paul (2007). Tales from the Cult Film Trenches: Interviews with 36 Actors from Horror, Science Fiction and Exploitation Cinema. McFarland, p. 226
- Bartlett, Rhett (July 9, 2021). "William Smith, Action Actor and Star of 'Laredo' and 'Rich Man, Poor Man,' Dies at 88". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 9, 2021.
- "William Smith". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved July 12, 2021.