Actor William Smith, known for playing motorcyclists, cowboys and painters in a series of TV shows and hit movies, is dead. He was 88.
Smith’s wife, Joanne Cervelli Smith, said the star of “Laredo” and “Rich Man, Poor Man” died Monday at Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles. She refused to give the cause of death.
With his chiseled, mustached face and bulging biceps, Smith was a constant, robust on-screen presence in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, collecting nearly 300 points.
He played bareknuckle boxer Jack Wilson who fought with Clint Eastwood in an epic fight in “Any Who Way You Can,”
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“It has to be one of the longest two-man fights ever performed on film without a double,” Smith said in an interview with the 2014 book “Tales From the Cult Film Trenches.”
Smith starred as Texas Ranger Joe Riley in both seasons of NBC Western “Laredo” from 1965 to 1967.
He also played Anthony Falconetti, the menacing nemesis from the central family in the 1976 ABC miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man” and returned to his sequel.
And he played Detective James “Kimo” Carew in the final season of the original “Hawaii Five-O” on CBS in 1979 and 1980.
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Born in Columbia, Missouri, Smith began acting at the age of 8 and played small uncredited roles in 1940s films, including “The Ghost of Frankenstein” and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”
He later became an elite discus thrower at UCLA, a black belt for martial arts and a master arm wrestler.
He served in the Korean War and acted in bit parts in TV shows throughout the 1950s before landing a regular role as a police sergeant in the 1961 ABC series “The Asphalt Jungle”.
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Smith would take part in another classic screen fight, this one with Rod Taylor as bodybuilder in the 1970 movie “Darker Than Amber”.
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He also played 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.”
In addition to his wife of 31 years, he survived a son, William E. Smith III, and a daughter, Sherri Anne Cervelli.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.