William Smith, the action star who fought with Clint Eastwood in In all possible ways, made a lasting impression as the villainous Falconetti in a TV miniseries Rich man, poor man and was a regular in the final season of Hawaii Five-O, died July 5 at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. He was 88 years old.
His wife Joanne Cervelli Smith has confirmed the death. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Smith was born in Columbia, MO, in 1933 on his family’s cattle ranch where he grew up surrounded by many beloved horses. Although the Smith family moved to Southern California before the age of 10, it was his time at the ranch that influenced the roles he played in his growing career. of seven decades in television and movies.
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He started his career in entertainment as an extra in the years 1942 The ghost of Frankenstein when he was eight years old. Although he played a small uncredited role, more opportunities would follow in Meet me in Saint-Louis and Bernadette’s song.
Before playing a fictional badass, he played one in real life after enlisting in the Air Force during the Korean War in 1951 where he flew secret missions. During his service he made time for higher education, he studied at institutions in Syracuse, Munich and Paris before obtaining his Cum Laude degree from UCLA where he obtained a master’s degree.
Smith intended to work for the government before agreeing to a contract with MGM in predominantly western and biker-themed movies and TV shows like Gun smoke, The Virginian, Perry mason, Batman, Kid, and The mod squad. In 1965, Smith landed the lead role in NBC Laredo, where he played Texas Ranger Joe Riley for two seasons until his cancellation in 1967.
He played a lawyer again in 1979 when he joined the final season of Hawaii Five-O as Detective James “Kimo” Carew, one of three newcomers on board after James MacArthur left. Smith, who was known to play mostly villains, really liked being able to play a hero in the popular CBS proceeding.
He followed up with appearances in Batman, I dream of Jeannie, Kung Fu, The Rockford Files, Team A, The Dukes of Hazzard, Six Million Dollar Man, and Knight rider.
Perhaps his most memorable television role came in 1976, when he played villainous Anthony Falconetti in the hit miniseries Rich man, poor man, later reprising the role in the sequel Rich Man, Poor Man, Volume II. The bloodthirsty Falconetti was the archenemy of the series’ central family run by the Jordache brothers (played by Peter Strauss and, in the first installment only, Nick Nolte).
Smith scolded with Eastwood in Buddy Van Horn’s Any way you can in 1980. Although Roger Ebert said that the Any way but loose the sequel was “not so good” in its two-star review at the time, he enjoyed the pairing of Smith and Eastwood.
“It was to my immense pleasure that I immediately recognized the actor playing Jack Wilson,” Ebert wrote. “It was William (Big Bill) Smith, who played many motorcycle gang bosses in the late 1960s movies and still looks so dreadful. He and Eastwood meet one morning while jogging, then he falls off a cliff and is saved by Eastwood, after which he beats up a lot of guys who insult Eastwood’s girlfriend in a bar. All in one day’s work. “
Smith, an avid bodybuilder, appeared in the 1982s Conan the Barbarian as the father of the main character opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also played Soviet Colonel Strelnikov in John Milius’ Red Dawn (1984). His last film appearance was in Steve Carell’s comedy in 2020 Irresistible.
Smith is survived by his wife of 31 years, Joanne Cervelli Smith, his son William E. Smith III and his daughter Sherri Anne Cervelli.