“Laredo” actor William Smith dies; played cowboys, brawlers
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Actor William Smith, who has played bikers, brawlers, cowboys and badass in movies and TV shows including “Laredo”, “Rich Man, Poor Man “and” Any Which Way You Can “, has died at the age of 88.
Smith’s wife, Joanne Cervelli Smith, said he died Monday at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles. She declined to give the cause of death.
With his chiseled, mustached face and bulging biceps, Smith was a consistent and rugged presence on screen throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, amassing nearly 300 credits.
He played bare-handed boxer Jack Wilson, who faced Clint Eastwood in an epic brawl in “Any Which Way You Can,” one of the highest-grossing films of 1980.
“This has to be one of the longest two-way fights ever to be done on a film without a double,” Smith said in an interview for the 2014 book “Tales From the Cult Film Trenches”.
Smith played the role of Texas Ranger Joe Riley in both seasons of the NBC western series “Laredo” from 1965 to 1967.
Hey played Anthony Falconetti, the arch nemesis of the Central Family in the 1976 ABC miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man,” and has returned for its sequel.
And he played Detective James “Kimo” Carew in the final season of the original “Hawaii Five-O” on CBS in 1979 and 1980.
Born in Columbia, Missouri, Smith began acting at the age of 8, playing small uncredited roles in 1940s films including “The Ghost of Frankenstein” and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”.
He would later become an elite UCLA discus thrower, black belt in martial arts, and arm wrestling champion.
He served in the Korean War and played small roles in television shows throughout the 1950s before landing a regular role as a police sergeant in the 1961 ABC series “The Asphalt Jungle”.
Smith would participate in another classic screen brawl, this one with Rod Taylor, as a bodybuilder in the 1970 film “Darker Than Amber”.
He would also play Arnold Schwarzenegger’s father in 1982’s “Conan the Barbarian”, after being considered for the title role, and a Soviet general in 1984’s “Red Dawn”.
Besides his wife of 31 years, he is survived by a son, William E. Smith III, and a daughter, Sherri Anne Cervelli.
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