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Character actor William Smith, RIP

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by RickH, Jul 11, 2021.

  1. Silver Surfer

    Silver Surfer Forum Resident

    Being a big TV on DVD collector, I have been bingeing on his guest appearances since his passing. He always delivered the goods in whatever role he was cast. So far, I've seen him in:

    The Rockford Files
    Movin' On
    Gunsmoke (he was AMAZING!)
    Mission: Impossible
    Planet of the Apes
    Kung Fu

    I'm anxiously anticipating his role in a two-part "The Dukes of Hazzard."

    We will not see his like again. He left and indelible mark on anyone lucky enough to see one of his performances. I highly recommend the DVD of the '70s biker/'Nam exploitation classic "The Losers." Even if you hate the film, Smith and Paul Koslo (another '70s era legend) share duties on the commentary track. It's priceless!
     
  2. Big Jimbo

    Big Jimbo Forum Resident

    Location:
    NY
    I watched it again a few years ago and it wasn’t bad. Held up better than I thought it would. Of course in one key scene Nick Nolte beats Smith repeatedly on one eye and later on he is wearing an eye patch on the other eye. One of those mistakes they didn’t catch until too much filming was done.
     
  3. That little talk on 'steel' to the boy Conan sticks in my mind.
     
    aussievinyl and steelinYaThighs like this.
  4. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block

    I checked out his Wiki bio a few years ago.
    If even HALF of this is true …what a life besides acting …


    Smith served in the United States Air Force. He won the 200-pound (91 kg) arm-wrestling championship of the world multiple times and also won the United States Air Forceweightlifting championship. A lifelong bodybuilder, Smith is a record holder for reverse-curling his own body weight. His trademark arms measured as much as 19+1⁄2inches. Smith held a 31–1 record as an amateur boxer.[citation needed]

    During the Korean War he was a Russian Intercept Interrogator and flew secret ferret missions over the Russian SFSR. He had both CIA and NSA clearance and intended to enter a classified position with the U.S. government, but while he was working on his doctorate studies he landed an acting contract with MGM.
     
    Kossoff is God likes this.
  5. Hanglow

    Hanglow ...hangin' out with your mom

    Location:
    Saratoga New York
    One thing...I don't recall if I ever seen him on any of the late night talkies,,Carson,Letterman,Cavett....man,with that impressive resume ..:shrug:..or he was just a very private person.
     
  6. MikaelaArsenault

    MikaelaArsenault Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Hampshire
  7. David R. Modny

    David R. Modny Senior Member

    Location:
    Streetsboro, Ohio
    NSFW link here (profanities), but...this:

     
  8. The Snout

    The Snout Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Cleveland, OH
    Don't forget his remarkable presence as the cop harassing Motorcycle Boy (!) in Rumblefish.
     
    steelinYaThighs likes this.
  9. TheNightfly1982

    TheNightfly1982 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Florida
    Great and underrated character actor. And judging by his resume, he was a true American badass, as well. RIP Mr. Smith.
     
  10. steelinYaThighs

    steelinYaThighs 'Cause Music Is What I Want

    Location:
    U.S.A.
    As with Rutger Hauer's untimely passing in 2019, this is one that really hurts. Big Bill Smith was another one of those great character actors who should've been a much bigger star than what he was--though it's ok as he carved out a career as a legend of B films, especially biker and 70s grindhouse/exploitation films. Oozing menace and commanding attention while on screen without having to say a word of dialogue--he had a screen presence that rivaled all the rugged tough guys of the era such as Eastwood, Bronson, Van Cleef, etc. The man was also apparently gifted at ad-libbing his own lines: for instance, the great speech that Conan's Father delivers ("in this, You can always trust [steel].") was Big Bill spitting it out on the spot--per an interview with John Milius. The other advantage he had compared to many of his contemporaries: that absolutely awesome physique that he kept well into his forties and fifties, with some of the biggest triceps I've ever seen on a man, and in the pre-Schwarzenegger/pre-Stallone days--so as an ironpumper, he's long been a personal hero. Philo Beddoe is great, but in a real fight: my money's on Jack Wilson.

    Too bad he didn't win an Emmy for his work as "Falconetti" (not Falcon Eddie, as sometimes assumed) on Rich Man, Poor Man. Interestingly, Falconetti only appears in three of the twelve episodes, yet he's the most remembered character, which is a testament to the man's ability as an actor.

    Required Viewing:

    1 - Run, Angel! Run!, 69--Big Bill on the run from his M.C., and with long-suffering Valerie Starrett in tow, and hiding out in a Northern California country home. Check Angel on the cover of Like (;)) magazine!

    2 - Chrome & Hot Leather, 71--Big Bill utters the greatest line in cinema history when he and his gang confront Tony Young in a Piru bar, and he's interrupted by a pinball-playing biker: "Gabriel?...Gabriel, can'cha see we're menacing someone?!" Look for Marvin Gaye in a supporting role--but no singing, unfortunately.

    3 - Hollywood Man, 76--A semi-autobiographical pic about a B list cast and crew financing and shooting a B biker film who makes a Faustian deal with mobsters to finance the flick, and problems arise with production. Co-written by Big Bill. Quasi-documentary as apparently the film was actually financed by unscrupulous individuals who hampered production at every turn.

    4 - Blood & Guts, 78--Interesting little Canadian indie that studies an oddball pro wrestling troupe and their on the road grind, and quarterbacked by grizzled veteran "Dandy" Dan O'Neil (Smith). This is one in which he appears in a low-key but poignant "white hat" role--not unlike what Mickey Rourke would do decades later in The Wrestler (09).

    5 - Fast Company, 79--Another Canadian indie, and an early Cronenberg effort. Big Bill portrays an aging veteran dragster who takes a young gun under his wing and shows him the ropes while dealing with treachery on all fronts. Another low-key, but affecting good guy outing from the usually villainous Smith. Also a great example of a 70s road picture/slice of life pic. Look for John Saxon and Claudia Jennings in supporting roles--this film being the latter's last role before her untimely death in a car accident.

    Also highly recommended are his appearances in the 1974 pilot for The Rockford Files, his 1981 appearance on The Dukes of Hazzard, and in Maniac Cop (88) as the crusty "Captain Ripley." R.I.P., Big Man.

    - siyt
     
  11. He played characters that often scared the crap out of me.
     
  12. drumzNspace

    drumzNspace Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Yuck City
    Great in men in black
     

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