William Smith, the actor, bodybuilder, arm wrestler has died. He was 88 at the time of his death. Smith had a long career in Hollywood. In fact, his career span was for around 75 years. He appeared in over 300 films and television shows.
Some notable works in his acting career include Rich Man Poor Man, Hawaii Five-O, Laredo, Conan The Barbarian, Red Dawn, Rumble Fish, and more. He was also known for the best movie brawls against Rod Taylor and Clint Eastwood.
His wife has remained silent on the cause of death and her privacy should be respected. Smith died on July 5, 2021, in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California.
William Smith Bodybuilding
Smith was 6’2″ tall and when he was in UCLA, he was known for his athletics. He was a champion in discus throwing and a champion in arm-wrestling. Also, he was a black belt in martial arts.
As far as bodybuilding was concerned, he had massive 18-inch biceps. He was able to do 163 pounds reverse curls easily and also, 5,100 sit-ups continuously.
In fact, his IMDb rating was also good. So, people liked both his performances as well as his physique.
A very famous film he starred in was Conan The Barbarian (1982). In that movie, he starred along with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Everybody knows Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most popular bodybuilders (and actors) in the world. In fact, he is also one of the richest bodybuilders in the world.
Best Action Scenes
More than a decade ago in 1970, Smith starred in the movie, Darker Than Amber. In the movie, he played the character of a sadistic bodybuilder.
There was a scene where Smith and Rod Taylor have a brawl. During the scene, Taylor broke three of William’s ribs and in return, William broke Taylor’s nose.
In 2010, Smith revealed all the truth about the filming of that scene. He said that it was a real fight, there was real blood and obviously real bones were broken. He appreciated Rod Taylor for being such a talented actor and fighter.
It took both of them a long time to heal. Then in 1973, William Smith and Rod Taylor again worked together in the movie The Deadly Trackers.
Then in 1980, he starred in a movie, In Any Which Way You Can. Smith’s character Jack Wilson had a face-off with Clint Eastwood’s character Philo Beddoe. Even their trainer for the fight scenes called this one of the most nerve-wrenching brawls.
They did not even use body doubles and it was one of the longest fight scenes in movie history. It was filmed at a higher altitude, 8,000 feet to be precise in Jackson, Wyoming, and Smith was a heavy smoker at the time.
In fact, Smith was the last TV commercial model for “Marlboro” because after that cigarette commercials got banned.
William Smith Actor
Then in 1984, he went on to star in the film Red Dawn. In the movie, he played the character of a colonel who spoke fluent Russian.
Fun Fact – Both the films Conan The Barbarian and Red Dawn were directed by the same person John Milius. Maybe he knew how hardworking and passionate William Smith was when it came to his acting career.
There was another film released in 1975, The Ultimate Warrior. He played a gang leader named Carrot who battled with Yul Brynner in that film using a ball and a chain.
Whenever there was a film that had bikers or scenes with guys on bikes, William Smith was a part of that film.
He starred in Jack Starrett’s films, Run Angel Run (1969) and The Losers (1970). Smith also starred in Company (1970), Chrome and Hot Leather (1971), Gentle Savage (1973), and Eye of the Tiger (1986).
The first miniseries telecasted on American TV was ABC’s Rich Man Poor Man. It was broadcasted in February 1976. It was an adaptation of a novel by Irwin Shaw.
The story was about two brothers, Nick Nolte and Peter Strauss. It showed the struggles faced by these two German-American brothers after World War II.
How He Started Acting?
William Smith was born on March 24, 1933, in Columbia, Missouri. After the Dust Bowl, his family moved out from Columbia. They shifted to Southern California.
When he first started acting in films. he played a child extra and was remained uncredited for it. The movie was The Ghost of Frankenstein, released in 1942. He worked alongside Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi in that film.
Then in 1943, he appeared in The Song of Bernadette. In 1944, he starred in Going My Way and Meet Me in St. Louis. After that in 1945, he did A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
In 1951, Smith enlisted himself with the U.S. Air Force as he wanted to serve his country. Then he won a boxing competition and went on to serve his duty in the Korean War.
William Smith was fluent in many languages including Russian, French, German, and Serbo-Croatian. As he was a talented and capable person, NSA and CIA noticed him. He was given a teaching position in these agencies.
But he was destined to be an actor and while he was doing his foreign language doctorate, he got a contract from MGM.
Smith starred in ABC’s police drama The Asphalt Jungle in 1961. Then in 1963, he did a series on BBC. The series was called Zero One.
He did some exceptional roles in films like Hammer (released in 1972), Black Samson (released in 1974), and Boss Nigger (released in 1975).
Working With Arnold Schwarzenegger
In the popular film Conan The Barbarian, he played the role of the father of the main character. He even wrote the lines for his monologue in the opening of the film.
When he was working with Arnold Schwarzenegger, he did an arm-wrestling competition with him. Arnold even told him in German that, “One day I will be a film star”. And we all know he actually did that.
There was something about Schwarzenegger that particularly impressed Smith and that was his physique. Due to his size, there were no stunt doubles who could match up to his physique.
So, he had to do all his stunts on his own. His workout routine was so tough that even after filming for 12 hours, he would go for a 2-mile walk and then exercise for 2 hrs.
William Smith Movies
In 1972, William appeared in the film Piranha. Then in 1973, he did Invasion of the Bee Girls. After that in 1979, he appeared in Fast Company. All these are cult classics.
While in 1977s Last Gleaming, he played the character of a spiteful sergeant. Then in 1979, he played the role of a con man in the movie The Frisco Kid. After that, in 1983, he played the character of a cop in Rumble Fish.
William Smith Death
He died on July 5, 2021, at the Motion Pictures and Television Country House and Hospital, situated in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California.
Smith married twice in his life. He first got married to Michele Smith in 1969 but after some time got a divorce. His second marriage was with Joanne Cervelli in 1989. The couple remained married.
His family included his wife of 31 years, and two children, William E. Smith III (son) and Sherri Anne Cervelli (daughter).
You entertained us, and we admired you. Rest in Peace Legend!