Action star William Smith, known for his roles in “Rich Man, Poor Man” and “Laredo,” died Monday, according to the New York Post. Smith’s wife, Joanne Cervelli Smith, confirmed the news of his death to The Hollywood Reporter, but did not mention the cause. He was 88.
Not only was Smith an action star, but he was known as a tough guy and appeared in two of the biggest brawls in movie history. One of which was with Clint Eastwood in the film “Any Which Way You Can.” The other was one of the most “realistic brawl scenes of all time,” per the Daily Mail, when Smith squared off against Rod Taylor in the film “Darker Than Amber.”
Before he was known as a bodybuilder and tough guy, Smith was a child actor in Hollywood. In fact, his career spanned over several decades with his first official TV credit in the 1950s, according to IMDb. However, his first role was an uncredited one where he played a village boy in “The Ghost of Frankenstein” in 1942. At the time, Smith was just 8 years old (via Deadline). Later in his career, he was the “go-to-guy” for biker films, like “The Losers” and “Chrome and Hot Leather,” in the 1970s.
Smith was part of the first miniseries broadcast on American television
Along with appearing in films, William Smith also made his mark in television. First, as Texas Ranger Joe Riley in two seasons of “Laredo.” Later, he joined the cast of “Hawaii Five-O” in its final season as Detective James “Kimo” Carew. In 1976, Smith was also part of the first miniseries on American television, “Rich Man, Poor Man” on ABC. MovieWeb even states that Smith appeared in almost every TV series of the 1970s and 1980s, like “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “The A Team.”
Smith was such a hardworking actor that he had over 280 credits in his career, and his most recent one was as the Hofbrau Bar Fly in the 2020 film “Irresistible” (via IMDb). Larry Karaszewski, a writer on “American Crime Story,” tweeted out that Smith was such a “bad***” that he “thought he’d never die.” Another Twitter user said that Smith was “one of the all time greats,” and it’s true. His legacy as an action star of both film and television for several decades will live on.
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