William Smith died on Monday, July 5th at the age of 88. No cause of death was reported.
William Smith had an amazing life, and a career that spanned 78 years! His first role was an uncredited part in The Ghost of Frankenstein in 1942. William Smith was eight years old at the time. Mr. Smith continued to get small parts in films until he went into the US Air Force.
William Smith served as a pilot where he flew secret missions over Russia. His work earned him CIA and NSA clearance. While in the service, William Smith’s love of fitness and sports continued. He won arm wrestling and weight lifting championships. He compiled a 31-1 record as an amateur boxer. Around this same time, William Smith attracted the attention of MGM and was offered a contract.
In 1961, William Smith landed a starring role on the tv series, The Asphalt Jungle. When the series ended William Smith never hurt for roles. He would go on to work in both television and film throughout the rest of his career, amassing an astounding 274 acting credits.
William Smith starred in the following television series: Zero One; Laredo; Rich Man, Poor Man (Books I and II); Hawaii 5-0 (the last season) and Wildside.
When he wasn’t appearing on his own series, William Smith kept busy guest starring on others. This is just a taste of some apearances: Combat; Perry Mason; Alfred Hitchcock Hour; Batman; I Dream of Jeannie; The Guns of Will Sonnett; Lassie; Here Come the Brides; Daniel Boone; Dan August; The Mod Squad; Columbo; Mission Impossible; The Six Million Dollar Man; The Rockford Files and Gunsmoke.
William Smith was no stranger to feature films. He might be best known for Every Which Way But Loose with Clint Eastwood. Some of my favorite William Smith film appearances include: CC & Company; The Ultimate Warrior; Scorchy; Conan the Barbarian; Rumble Fish and Red Dawn.
When I was a kid I loved when William Smith showed up in a tv show or movie. I knew that the hero was in for a rough time or else he was lucky to meet the character Smith was playing. As I moved into my teen years I continued to enjoy William Smith’s appearances, but also started to wonder why he wasn’t get the big push as an action star. Perhaps he just stayed too busy and liked the variety of parts he was offered. If he enjoyed them half as much as we did, he was a very happy man.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to William Smith’s family, friends and fans.