Although not everyone will recognize his name, William Smith accumulated nearly 300 credits throughout his career over the course of seven decades, meaning that chances are extremely good that you’ve seen his work. It was announced today that William Smith died at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills on July 5th at the age of 88.
To get the sense of how long William Smith was active in Hollywood, one only needs to look at his first credit, which show him making an appearance in The Ghost of Frankenstein back in 1942. After a series of roles as a child actor, Smith enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served in the Korean War. Due to his fluency in multiple languages, Smith began working with the CIA and NSA, but while working on his doctorate in foreign-languages studies, Smith landed an acting contract at MGM. He went on to make appearances in TV shows such as The Asphalt Jungle, Combat!, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Zero One, I Dream of Jeannie, The Virginian, Daniel Boone, Mod Squad, Columbo, Mission: Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Rockford Files, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Gunsmoke, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Hawaii Five-O, Fantasy Island, The Dukes of Hazzard, CHiPs, Knight Rider, The A-Team, Airwolf, and so much more. He’s probably best known for playing the villainous Anthony Falconetti in the Rich Man, Poor Man mini-series, a role which he also reprised for the sequel series. Smith also starred in Laredo alongside Neville Brand and Peter Brown.
On the feature-film side of things, William Smith also appeared in Run, Angel, Run!, The Losers, The Thing with Two Heads, Hammer, Invasion of the Bee Girls, Black Samson, Twilight’s Last Gleaming, The Frisco Kid, The Outsiders, Red Dawn, Rumble Fish, Hell Comes to Frogtown, Maniac Cop, Maverick, and more. Smith is also known for playing Conan’s father in Conan the Barbarian, as well as facing off against Rod Taylor for a hard-hitting fight in Darker than Amber. “Fight choreography and staging went out the window when Rod decided to really hit me,” Smith recalled in a 2010 interview. “And so the fight was on. That was a real fight with real blood and real broken bones. Rod is a skilled fighter and at the same time a real scrapper. Now that was a good fight!” Smith was left with three broken ribs and Taylor with a broken nose. Speaking of brawls, Smith also traded blows with Clint Eastwood in Any Which Way You Can for what has been called “the most knuckle-busting, gut-wrenching, brain-scrambling, butt-bruising, lip-splitting brawl of all time.” You will be missed, Mr. Smith.