5' 10" (1 m 78 cm)
Although the internet has made it easier to
research biographical information about many
actors otherwise long forgotten, when it comes
to correctly identifying someone the unending
stream of information available on the internet
can present its own difficulties. "Bill Smith"
unfortunately is a combination of two very
common names. This makes mis-identification a
real risk. Have a look
this IMDb list to see what we're faced with.
"The" Bill Smith we're looking for isn't William
Smith born on March 24. 1933. This last actor
who, in my mind, forever will be Falconetti (Rich
Man, Poor Man), did start his acting career
at an early age.
Physical appearances aside, he simply could not
have been the actor who took on the roles 'our'
Bill Smith played. The current online
information on both of these actors tends to be
sadly scrambled. Click on his picture to read
the information we have sifted through and found
to be correct.
As ever, we welcome you to add information to this page... to do so: just click Uncle Sam at the bottom of the page.
William James Smith was born June 4. 1906 in New York as child of Patrick J. Smith en Rose Ann (Roseanna) Connelly. He spent his youth in Providence, Rhode Island.
Attended La Salle Academy and later studied for the diplomatic service at the Georgetown University, majoring in amateur dramatics and entertainments. He was soon drawn into orchestras since his baritone voice blended well with popular music.
In 1929 he came to New York to study dramatic art at the New York Academy and joined the Harold Stern & Orchestra, a popular band in New York, in 1930, as drummer and vocalist. He kept this job for eight years. As solo vocalist, Bill also did clever impersonations of famous radio personalities which received a hearty response. On Jun 8. 1933 Harold Stern was cited as follows: "Most of my lads have been with me a long time. I must also express my appreciation to Bill Smith, vocalist announcer and drummer with me. Bill has been moving ahead so nicely that I feel I'm due to lose him any day - and if he goes, it will probably be to become a picture, radio or stage star."
He entered radio by singing and doing some commercial announcing for the band. Then came many straight dramatic roles. His hobby was golf.
June 28. 1932 he married Helen Josephine Farrell, a former Providence school teacher. The couple have known each other since childhood days. The ceremony was held at the Paulist Fathers Church in Manhattan followed by at a dinner party at the St. Moritz as guests of Maestro Stern. They lived in Rockville Center, Long Island and had five children all musically inclined.
In 1945 he maintained a durable radio role as Philip Baxter (1945-1947), one of Boston's most attractive and richest widowers for years in Stella Dallas, based on the novel of that name by Olive Higgins Prouty, was heard Mondays through Fridays on NBC.
Above left: In 1945 William Smith played Philip Baxter (1945-1947), one of Boston's most attractive and richest widowers for years in Stella Dallas, based on the novel of that name by Olive Higgins Prouty, was heard Mondays through Fridays on NBC.
Above right: Poppa Dennis, aka minister Richard Dennis (Bill Smith) in The Brighter Day (1949).
After being heard in several episodes of Crime Club (1946-1947) for Mutual, he stayed with the detectives.
In 1947 the radio series The Adventures of Ellery Queen made many changes one being the introduction of Bill Smith as Inspector Queen. He stayed on for 10 episodes until the show moved to Hollywood.
Above: William Smith, left, of 36 Lehigh court, Rockville Centre, played the part of Michael, an alcoholic servant, in the Russell Crease - Howard Lindsay (right) comedy, Life With Mother (Oct 1948 - 1949). He liked the new name Michael Smith so well he took it for a stage name. Another reason was that he found the Actor's Equity already had listed a William Smith and Bill Smith.
Secret Missions (Mutual) had Bill Smith in at least 3 episodes. "Arctic Mission" wherein an agent is sent to Spitzbergen to find out if the Russians have been supplying sixty Nazi scientists still living somewhere beyond the Arctic Circle. (Aug 2.1949). Another episode broadcast on September 26. 1949 with an unknown title was about the first Russian explosion of a A-bomb.
Finally "The Case Of Colonel X" (Oct 3. 1949) was about a naval attaché in Poland who has discovered that the Polish shipyards have secretly been building submarines for the Russians.
1000 Dollar Reward (NBC, Jun 25. 1950 - Oct 10. 1950) was a Sunday game show hosted by John Sylvester, Bill Smith was in it. He also played Nick Charles for a brief time on radio's The Adventures Of The Thin Man (1941-1950) late in the series.
In the popular radio soap The Brighter Day Bill Smith (1949-1953) played Poppa Dennis, aka minister Richard Dennis played opposite daughter Liz Dennis (Margaret Draper) as housekeeper, sermon-typist and holder together of the family.
Above left: Bill Smith as member of The Brighter Day cast (1949)
Above middle: Pictured in their original radio roles - Bill Smith as Rev. Dennis, Les Damon as Larry, and Joan Alexander as Althea. (The Brighter Day was heard on CBS radio sponsored by Cheer, 1952)
Above right: Bill Smith in 1949 add for The Brighter Day.
Above left: The Brighter Day, CBS radio. As pictured here, Bill Smith plays Reverend Dennis; Mary K. Wells, Patsy and Philip Pine, Alan (1953).
Above right: Harold "Hal" Holbrook (left) and Bill Smith (right) in TV's The Brighter Day.
Harold "Hal" Holbrook remembered auditioning for The Brighter Day TV show by the end of 1953 "...with an older actor, Bill Smith, who was going to play the minister/father. He was good, very natural - he'd been doing the role on radio and they were going with him on TV. I tried to be natural, too, and calm, but I wasn't..."
From the radio show only Bill Smith joined the program on TV, but departed the TV show after the 1954 season. He was replaced by Blair Davies. (pictures and video footage clearly show Blair Davis as Rev. Dennis before 1956).
In 1955 he was heard in a X Minus One #1 episode (April 24, 1955) called "No Contact".
In radio's Young Dr.Malone Bill played dr. Brown (1956 - 1959) opposite real life friend Sandy Becker (Jerry Malone). Whilst still living in (36 Lehigh court) Rockville in 1959 he was also seen on TV's From These Roots.
He did some stints for radio's Yours Truly Johnny Dollar (1961- July 29. 1962).
Again not much is known about Bill Smith after this radio/TV work. His wife passed away in 1975 and Bill died in 1992.
Additional video & audio sources
|This actor profile is a part of the Ellery Queen a website on deduction. The actor above played Richard Queen in the Ellery Queen radio series. Click Uncle Sam if you think you can help out...!|
Page first published on July 1. 2018
Last updated July 24. 2020
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