William Smith (actor)

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This article is about the actor William Smith. For the actor Willard "Will" Smith, see Will Smith.
William Smith
William smith actor 1973.png
Born (1933-03-24) March 24, 1933 (age 82)
Columbia, Missouri, USA
Other names Big Bill Smith
Occupation Film and television actor
Years active 1942-2014
Spouse(s) Michele Smith (? - ?; divorced; 1 child)
Joanne Cervelli (2002 - present)
Website www.williamsmith.us

William Smith (born March 24, 1933) is an American actor who has appeared in almost three hundred feature films and television productions. One of his better-known roles was Anthony Falconetti in the 1970s television mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Columbia, Missouri, Smith began his acting career at the age of eight in 1942; he entered films as a child actor in such films as The Ghost of Frankenstein and The Song of Bernadette. The physically imposing 6'2" actor is a lifelong bodybuilder and has the distinction of being the final Marlboro Man before cigarette advertising was discontinued on television.

Smith served in the United States Air Force. Smith won the 200 pound (91 kg) arm-wrestling championship of the world multiple times and also won the United States Air Force weightlifting championship. Smith is a record holder for reverse-curling his own bodyweight. His trademark arms measured 18 and 1/2 inches. Smith held a 31-1 record as an amateur boxer and studied martial arts with kenpo instructor Ed Parker for several years. Smith also played semi-pro football in Germany and competed in motocross and downhill skiing events.

Smith earned a Bachelor of Arts from Syracuse and a Master's degree in Russian Studies from UCLA. He taught Russian at UCLA before abandoning his Ph.D. studies for an MGM contract and stunt doubling for former screen Tarzan Lex Barker in a 1958 French film The Strange Awakening.

He also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and the University of Munich while learning languages through the military. Smith is fluent in Russian, Serbo-Croatian, French and German. During the Korean War he was a Russian Intercept Interrogator and flew secret ferret missions over Russia. He had both CIA and NSA clearance and intended to enter a classified position with the U.S. government, but his marriage to a French actress meant the loss of security clearance[citation needed].

Smith was a regular on the 1961 ABC television series The Asphalt Jungle, portraying police Sergeant Danny Keller. One of his earliest leading roles was as Joe Riley, a Texas Ranger on the NBC western series Laredo (1965–1967). Smith's character was good-natured with muscles of steel; co-star Peter Brown's character was a ladies' man, and Neville Brand portrayed a relentless bumbler. In 1967, Smith guest starred on Wayne Maunder's short-lived ABC military-western Custer. Smith played Jude Bonner in that series.

Smith was cast as John Richard Parker, brother of Cynthia Ann Parker, both taken hostage in Texas by the Comanche, in the 1969 episode "The Understanding" of the syndicated television series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Robert Taylor. In the story line, Parker contracts the plague, is left for dead by his fellow Comanche warriors, and is rescued by his future wife, Yolanda (Emily Banks), a Mexican.[1] Smith also played the outlaw turned temporary sheriff Hendry Brown in the 1969 episode "The Restless Man". In the story line, Brown takes the job of sheriff to tame a lawless town, begins to court a young woman, again played by Emily Banks, but returns to his deadly outlaw ways in search of thrills.[2]

On Gunsmoke Smith appears [1] in a 1972 episode, "Hostage!"; his character beats and rapes Miss Kitty Russell and shoots her twice in the back. His shirt exposes his muscles. Smith has been described as the "greatest bad-guy character actor of our time".[3]

Smith was added to the cast for the final season of Hawaii Five-O as Honolulu Police Detective James "Kimo" Carew, a new officer in the Five-O unit. He had previously appeared with Jack Lord in Lord's prior series about a rodeo circuit rider, Stoney Burke. Smith starred in one episode of Kung Fu, and as the Treybor, a ruthless warlord, in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century episode "Buck's Duel to the Death". Smith also made guest appearances in the 1974 pilot for The Rockford Files, "Backlash of the Hunter", I Dream of Jeannie, and two appearances - as different characters - in episodes of The A-Team (the first season's "Pros and Cons", and season four's "The A-Team Is Coming, The A-Team Is Coming"). In the 1976 television miniseries, Rich Man, Poor Man, Smith portrayed Anthony Falconetti, nemesis of the Jordache family. He made an appearance in the Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "The Energy Eater", as an Indian medicine man who advises Kolchak.

In films, Smith played Clint Eastwood's bare-knuckle nemesis Jack Wilson in Any Which Way You Can, a drag racing legend in 1979's Fast Company, the main character's father in Conan the Barbarian, bad guy Matt Diggs in The Frisco Kid, a Russian commander in Red Dawn and a vindictive sergeant in Twilight's Last Gleaming. Smith appeared as heavy Terry Bartell in Darker than Amber, opposite Rod Taylor and Theodore Bikel, in 1970. He also appeared in Hammer and Boss Nigger, two blaxploitation films also starring Fred Williamson. He was seen in Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders as a store clerk and in Rumble Fish as a police officer, both in 1983. According to Thomas "Duke" Miller,[citation needed] a TV/movie/celebrity expert,[citation needed] Smith also had a role as a biker gang leader in an episode of the 1982-1986 TV show Knight Rider. He had starring roles in films such as Grave of the Vampire, Invasion of the Bee Girls, and The Swinging Barmaids. Smith also played in several biker flicks including C.C. and Company, in which he starred as the menacing "Moon" opposite football great Joe Namath and Ann-Margret. He also starred in Nam's Angels. Smith played Count Dracula in The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula.

Selected filmography[edit]


External links[edit]