Famed classic film and television actor William Smith dead at age 88

Classic movie fans had reason to grieve this week following the death of 88-year-old film and television actor, William Smith.

Fox News reported that Smith is survived by two children as well as his widow, Joanne Cervelli Smith, who said her husband passed away on Monday at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Los Angeles, California.

 A “love of horses”

According to his website, Smith was born in Columbia, Missouri, and raised on a nearby cattle ranch where he developed a “love of horses and the western lifestyle,” as well as a passion for athletics.

Smith began acting as a child and was featured in such films as The Ghost of Frankenstein, Song of Bernadette, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

An Air Force veteran who served in the Korean War, Smith went on to attend UCLA. There, he took an interest in martial arts, arm wrestling, and discus throwing.

A regular in western movies

The future star built a muscular physique, which he displayed in many roles, including that of Texas Ranger Joe Riley on the NBC television show Laredo.

Smith went on to appear in other productions that featured Western and law enforcement themes, including the final season of Hawaii Five-O and an episode of Gunsmoke.

He also had a notable fight scene with legendary actor Clint Eastwood in the 80s-era Any Which Way You Can, the sequel to Eastwood’s hit film, Any Which Way But Loose.

“It has to be one of the longest two-man fights ever done on film without doubles,” Fox News quoted Smith as later recalling the brawl during an interview for the book Tales From the Cult Film Trenches.

Another acclaimed role was his portrayal of a menacing villain in the 1976 ABC miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man, a character he would reprise in Rich Man, Poor Man Book II.

Smith loved fitness

William’s website states that a love of fitness was an important feature of his lifestyle, which his list of physical accomplishments reflected.

“Among his outstanding feats of strength are strict reverse curl of his own body weight and 5,100 continuous sit-ups,” the website states. “He appeared on the pages of numerous bodybuilding magazines including ‘Mr. America,’ ‘Muscle Mag,’ ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Muscle Builder’ and ‘Strength and Health.’”

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