Smith worked for the Walter Lantz studio for much of his career, first starting as an animator, and then as a director. He also animated at the Warner Bros. cartoon studio.
By 1955, Smith had taken over as primary director of the Woody Woodpecker cartoon shorts, with periodic fill-in shorts directed by peers Alex Lovy, Jack Hannah, and Sid Marcus. With Smith in the director's chair, the Woody Woodpecker series maintained its trademark frenetic energy, while the animation itself was simplified, due to budget constraints. By the late 1960s, Smith became the sole director of the Lantz studio's output: the cartoon series Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy, and The Beary Family. Smith stayed with Lantz until the studio was closed in 1972.