Roger Smith (actor)

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For other people named Roger Smith, see Roger Smith (disambiguation).
Roger Smith
Roger Smith Mister Roberts.JPG
Smith as Mister Roberts.
Born Roger LaVerne Smith
(1932-12-18) December 18, 1932 (age 81)
South Gate, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor, screenwriter, singer
Years active 1956–1977
Spouse(s) Victoria Shaw (1956–1965) (divorced) 3 children
Ann-Margret (1967–present)

Roger LaVerne Smith (born December 18, 1932) is an American television and film actor and screenwriter. He starred in the television detective series 77 Sunset Strip. He is married to actress Ann-Margret.

Early life[edit]

A debonair and handsome leading man in his youth, Smith was born in South Gate, California, the son of Dallas and Leone Smith. When he was six, his parents enrolled him into a stage school, where he took singing, dancing and elocution lessons. He was educated at the University of Arizona at Tucson on a football scholarship. He won several amateur talent prizes as a singer and guitarist.

Career[edit]

Smith served with the Naval Reserve and was stationed in Hawaii with FAWTUPAC, a flight training unit just outside of Honolulu. After a chance meeting with the actor James Cagney, he was encouraged to try a career in Hollywood. (Cagney had also encouraged other young actors, including Don Dubbins, for whom he found roles in two 1956 films.) He would later play Cagney's son in Man of a Thousand Faces.

Smith signed with Columbia Pictures in 1957 and made several films, then moved to Warner Bros. in 1959.

With wife Victoria Shaw

On April 16, 1958, Smith appeared with Charles Bickford in "The Daniel Barrister Story" on NBC's Wagon Train. In this first season episode, Daniel Barrister, played by Bickford, objects to medical treatment for his wife, Jenny, the victim of a wagon accident. Meanwhile, Dr. Peter H. Culver, played by Smith, has successfully fought a smallpox epidemic in a nearby town. He is brought to the wagon train by scout Flint McCullough, portrayed by series regular Robert Horton to treat Mrs. Barrister. Viewers never know if Barrister yielded to allow Dr. Culver to treat Jenny.

His greatest film exposure came with playing the adult nephew Patrick Dennis in Auntie Mame, with Rosalind Russell in the title role.

His signature television role came as Jeff Spencer, a private detective in the firm of Bailey & Spencer partnered with Stuart Bailey, played by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. in 77 Sunset Strip. Series costars included Edd Byrnes and Richard Long.

Smith appeared in seventy-four episodes of this Warner Bros.-produced series but left the popular ABC program in 1962 because of a blood clot in his brain. He recovered from this injury post-surgery. Several years later his health declined and he was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disease. His condition went into remission in 1985. Following his retirement from performing, he managed his wife Ann-Margret's career and produced her popular Las Vegas stage shows. In an interview with the NY Post, Ann-Margret stated he had Parkinson's .[1]

Smith appeared very rarely on television once his health deteriorated, but did participate on This is Your Life when host Ralph Edwards devoted an episode to Ann-Margret. In addition to the appearances credited below, Smith also has been on several game shows.

Personal life[edit]

Smith married twice. His first wife (1956 to 1965) was Australian-born actress Victoria Shaw, and together they had three children: daughter Tracey (b. 1957), and sons Jordan (b. 1958) and Dallas (b. 1961). He has five grandchildren: Leone (b. 1981), Alex (1984–2008), Rosalyn (b. 1988), Zach (b. 1990) and Cameron (b. 1995). He has two great grandchildren, twins Axel and Radley (b.  2010). Smith and Shaw divorced in 1965.

He has been married to Ann-Margret since May 8, 1967. He became her manager, but is now semi-retired because of myasthenia gravis.

According to cfidarren.com, Smith was a Private Pilot with an instrument rating issued November 30, 1966.

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

Personal life and early life sections verified by daughter Tracey L. Smith.

External links[edit]