Action Actor of ‘Laredo,’ ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ Was 88

William Smith, the tough actor who starred on television Laredo, Rich People, Poor People and Hawaii Five-O and confronting Clint Eastwood and Rod Taylor in two of the more notable brawls in cinematic history, is dead. He’s 88 years old.

Smith passed away Monday at Country House Film & Television and Hospital in Woodland Hills, his wife, Joanne Cervelli Smith, said. The Hollywood Reporter. She did not want to reveal the cause of death.

The 6-foot-2 Smith, a UCLA champion discus thrower, arm wrestling and black belt champion, has 18-inch biceps and can do 5,100 continuous sit-ups and reverse bends. 163 pounds. Both prolific and powerful, he had 289 credits on IMDb, seemingly in everything from the ’60s on.

Smith co-starred with bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian (1982) and speaks fluent Russian as a colonel in Red Dawn (1984) – both of those films were directed by John Milius – and as a gang leader named Carrot, fought Yul Brynner with a ball and leash in Ultimate Warrior (1975).

He’s the right guy when it comes to casting for cyclists movies, starring in director Jack Starrett’s film Run, Angel, Run! (1969) and Losers (1970); In Dead angel (1970), from Roger Corman’s New World Image; In CC and Company (1970), starring Joe Namath and Ann-Margret; In Chrome and hot skin (1971), opposite Marvin Gaye; and in Gentle Savage (1973) and Tiger’s Eye (1986).

On NBC’s LaredoSmith starred as Texas Ranger shooter Joe Riley in those two Western seasons (1965-67), and he was in the CBS original. Hawaii Five-O for its final year (1979-80) to depict Det. James “Kimo” Carew.

ABC’s Rich People, Poor Peoplepremiered in February 1976, was the first miniseries to air on American television (before that Roots 11 months) and is an adaptation of the Irwin Shaw novel about two German-American brothers (Peter Strauss and Nick Nolte) and their lives after World War II.

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Smith appeared late in a sinister turn as hired thug Anthony Falconetti, then returned the following year for a sequel.

Being a brutal bodybuilder in Darker than amber (1970), he engaged in a free violence with Taylor considered one of the most realistic violence of all time. Taylor broke three of Smith’s ribs and Smith broke Taylor’s nose during the scene.

Smith recalled in a 2010 interview: “The choreography and fight choreography were gone when Rod decided to actually hit me. “And so the battle continued. It’s a real fight with real blood and real bones. Rod is a skilled fighter and at the same time a real waste. Now that’s a good fight! “

After healing, they work in the West again Deadly Follower (In 1973).

In Any way you can (1980), Smith’s Jack Wilson pitted Clint Eastwood’s Philo Beddoe during a long stroll through the streets and restaurants of Wyoming. The trailer called it “the most intense, gut-wrenching, brain-pounding, butt-bruised, brawl of all time.”

“This has to be one of the longest fights between two people ever done on film without a duel,” Smith said in an interview for Louis Paul’s 2014 book. Tales from the Cult movie Trenches. “We filmed it in Jackson, Wyoming, which is about 8,000 feet, and I was smoking very strongly at the time.”

Speaking of smoking, Smith was the last “Marlboro Man” in the ad before the cigarette ads were discontinued.

Born on a cattle ranch in Columbia, Missouri, on March 24, 1933, Smith and his family moved to Southern California after the Dust Bowl. He was an extra unrecognized kid on set with Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. in The Phantom of Frankenstein (1942) and appeared in Bernadette’s song (1943), Go my way (1944), Meet me in St. Louis (1944) and Trees that grow in Brooklyn (In 1945).

Smith enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1951, won a boxing championship, and served in the Korean War. Fluent in Russian, German, French and Serbo-Croatian, he caught the eye of the CIA and NSA, which offered him a teaching position in these agencies. But while he was doing his PhD in foreign language studies, he landed an acting contract at MGM.

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In 1961, he starred in the studio’s ABC police drama series Asphalt forest opposite Jack Warden. Two years later, he worked on the BBC series Not one (its name is the mark of the International Aviation Security Agency) with Nigel Patrick.

As an inductee in the Muscle Beach Venice Fitness Hall of Fame, Smith is the perfect man for the role of Adonis, a henchman for Zsa Zsa Gabor’s evil Minerva on Batman. In the last episode of the ABC show in 1968, he was at the end of Whamm!!, Zowie!, Splatt!, Crash! and Socks! from Batman, Robin and Batgirl.

He is also unforgettable in blaxploitation movies hammer (1972), Black Samson (1974) and Boss Nigger (1975).

Smith used a ball belt and chain on Brynner during the climax of Ultimate Warrior, and his character ends up falling down a trough full of rodents. (They smeared Karo syrup and peanut butter on his face to keep the creatures in the scene.)

He also plays the title character’s father in Conan the Barbarian, wrote his own lines for the film’s opening monologue. “There is nobody, nobody in this world that you can trust… not men, not women, not beasts… this you can trust,” he said as he pointed to the steel sword carried. film iconography.

Smith remembers beating Schwarzenegger in an arm wrestling competition and never worked with him again. “As he walked out my front door, he turned around and said in German, ‘I’m going to be a movie star,’ and was and is – and now so much more!

“One thing about Schwarzenegger that I will never forget is that no one can double him, become his stunt double, because of his shape. He did all his own stunts. He works 12 hours a day and then he walks two miles. Then he would practice for two hours. “

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Smith appeared in hit movies Piranha (1972), where he said his stunt with a very large anaconda almost cost him his life, as an FBI agent in Invasion of the bee girls (1973), and was a drag racer in David Cronenberg’s Fast company (In 1979).

He is a tenacious sergeant in The Last Light of Twilight (1977), a rogue in Robert Aldrich’s Frisco’s child (1979) and a cop in Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumble Fish (1983).

In addition to his wife of 31 years, survivors include his children, William E. Smith III and Sherri Anne Cervelli.

For all the toughness he has shown on screen, Smith showed the softer side in his 2009 book, The Poetic Works of William Smith. In an excerpt from “The Reaper,” he wrote:

“You did some bad things and you did some good things
You wouldn’t change things even if you could
Because over the years you have run a good race
Reaper chases and can’t keep your speed
So, toast to the living and the dead
And while you can, spit in the Reaper’s eyes. “

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