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Appeared on radio showHoward Irving Smith (Aug 12, 1893 - Jan 10, 1968)

 
Wife of Howard Smith, Lillian Boardman in 1922, aged 29


 

 


Eyes: blue
Marriages:
(1) Mildred Agnes Barker, actress (Feb 14. 1922 - bfr. 1930)
(2) Lillian Boardman, singer & dancer
      (aft. 1930 - Sep 19. 1953) (her death)
no children


Howard Irving Smith was born on August 12, 1893 in Attleborough City, Massachusetts, USA to parents George H. Smith, a jeweler and Sybelle Pollard.

Smith began as a concert singer, but his hopes of an opera career were ended after his service in the 77th Infantry Division in World War I. Enrico Caruso suggested that he try a musical act in vaudeville. He formed a team with his friend Harry Meeker and later, as a comedian, he shared bills with Frank Fay, Sophie Tucker, James Barton and Bessie Clayton.

He made his film debut in 1918, in Young America, a silent movie.

         Sep 1922 add for Howard Smith & Mildred Barker's "Good Medicine" Vaudeville actress Mildred Barker (1929) 

They met as early as Dec 1919 on the vaudeville circuit but as of Dec 1920 Howard also formed a duet with Mildred Barker first in "The Honeymoon" followed by a, reportedly fast moving, sketch full of laughs and situations called "Good Medicine". In this skit Howard played a doctor who's client showed every symptom known to medical science appears. After telling her the truth, that she is all right, the patient (played by Lillian Schaffner), informs the medic that she is the donor of a big hospital...in search for someone to lead it.

Since June 14. 1911 Mildred was married to the actor Roy McNicol (later a well known painter) and on Sep 9. 1915 their son Roy B. McNicol was born. Mildred's marriage to Roy didn't survive and they divorced prior to 1920. Tragically at 5 years old her son died, after an illness of three days, on Jan 30. 1921 at the Merchants' Hotel, Johnstown, Pa. Mildred was appearing at the Majestic, Johnstown, at the time of her son's death.
On Feb 14. 1922 Howard married
Mildred Agnes Barker in Manhattan, New York. They continued to perform together as late as December 1927.

In 1928, with big-time vaudeville ending, Smith landed a job on radio's popular The Collier Hour, and received $35 for three minutes work. His radio career continued with The March of Time, Cavalcade of America, Forty Minutes in Hollywood and Crime Doctor.

Smith had plenty of radio work (1934) as the following anecdote describes: "One man has been appearing on two programs at the same time in two widely separated studios. Howard Smith played the court clerk in 'The Court of Human Relations' opening on CBS at 8:30 p.m. He opened court there and sped to Radio City to play a part on the Babe Ruth broadcast from 8:45 to 9 p.m. That gave him time to hustle back to 485 Madison Avenue to close the court program at 9:15 o'clock."

A member of the repertory company of Orson Welles's CBS Radio series The Mercury Theatre on the Air and The Campbell Playhouse, Smith played the role of the ill-fated bomber commander in the 1938 production of The War of the Worlds. Smith appears as Cuban plantation owner Joseph Johnson in Welles's rediscovered film Too Much Johnson — slapstick sequences that were to be integrated into a theatre production that was briefly staged in August 1938 before it was shelved.

Howard Smith, Mary Wickes, Orson Welles, Virginia Nicolson, William Herz, Erskine Sanford, Eustace Wyatt and Joseph Cotten outside the Stony Creek Theatre during the two-week run of the Mercury Theatre stage production of Too Much Johnson (August 16–29, 1938)
(Pictured above) Howard Smith, Mary Wickes, Orson Welles, Virginia Nicolson, William Herz, Erskine Sanford, Eustace Wyatt and Joseph Cotten outside the Stony Creek Theatre during the two-week run of the Mercury Theatre stage production of Too Much Johnson (August 16–29, 1938)

Howard Smith in 1939In radio's Jane Arden (1938-1939) he played Jack Galloway, a city editor of the Comet-Globe. He was also the first actor to portray the Sergeant Velie in the hour long first radio series
The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1939).

He played the role of Will Brown, Homer's father, on radio's The Aldrich Family and later reprised the role on the NBC television series.


By 1940 Smith was married to Lillian Goodman, a vaudeville singer/dancer who up to 1930 performed in vaudeville. She had been a part "Gus Edwards and his Song Revue," with Edwards, Lillian Boardman, a beautiful blonde soprano, and a company of 25 personally developed protégés in a musical extravaganza during 1910s. They lived in Manhattan.

Smith himself had New York stage appearances in Solitaire (1942),
Decision (1944) and Dear Ruth (1944-1946).

    "Dear Ruth" (1946-1947) with John Dall as Lt. William Seawright, Phyllis Povah as Mrs. Edith Wilkins and Howard Smith as Judge Harry WilkinsThe Magic Touch (1947) From L to R: William Terry as Jeff Turner, Sara Anderson as Cathy Turner, Frances Comstock as Amy Thompson and Howard Smith as J. L. Thompson. The production opened September 3rd, 1947 and closed after only twelve performances.

In 1944 former N.Y. stage producer Murray Phillips' widow Lucille Phillips (né Arnold), fell head over heels in love with an actor, Howard Smith. Physically Howard, with his portly belly, towered over Lucy. Her daughter Peggy describes him in her memoirs:

"Huge and genial, with a deep rumbling laugh, Smith's talent commanded high respect in theatrical circles. Coming from a vaudeville background he had mastered a comedic sense of timing that was the envy of all his peers. With his bright blue eyes, shock of white hair and baby-smooth skin, he resembled a robust, beardless Santa Claus.  Howard adored my mother, and she him. They danced the night away to Eddie Duchin's music at the Astor Hotel Roof, went for Sunday drives in the country, and savored gourmet candle-lit dinners.

1946 rehearsal for "Mr. Peebles and the Mr. Hooker" standing next to Howard Smith (L), Rhys Williams and Randee Sanford (R)Eva Gabor, Howard Smith and Glenn Ford in "Don't Go Near The Water" (1957)

The romance progressed and in December of 1949, Howard had been offered leading roles in two new plays slated for Broadway. One was a comedy, and because most of his successes had always been in comedies, he was pre-disposed to accept that play over the other which was a drama "Death of a Salesman". Before choosing, however, he brought both scripts home to Lucille and asked her to have me read them. By then I had achieved a fairly respected reputation in the theatre as a press representative and writer."

Director Kazan had reached out into what seemed the totally wrong direction for Howard Smith, the shouting comic who played in farces where he played the standard bewildered father of teenage girls. He read the play and refused the part, surely the best he had ever been offered in his life. Kazan,... Howard Smith in a 1951 promotional photo for "Death of a Salesman"tried to change his mind. "That play is terrible," he'd say. "Who's going to want to see something that sad?"
Finally a meeting was fixed with Howard and Arthur Miller. Miller, pretending ignorance asked him to tell him why he was so against the play. "That poor man, for God's sake; the rotten things his sons say to him and his boss. Everybody's so down on him. It's just awful!"
"Except Charley," Miller replied and he could see Smith's eyes change. He stopped moving. "Charley gives Willy good advice, lends him money, always makes time for him during office hours... Charley really tries, Howard."
Howard sat there staring. Finally he said, "I'll think about it." That night he accepted the role. His instinct were as right for it as his personality.

So Smith created the role of Charley in the original Broadway production of Death of a Salesman (1949-1950) but he may be best remembered for his recreation of the role in the 1951 screen version. 

As a balding, heavy-set American character actor, he relocated to Hollywood in 1946 and specialized in judges, police officers, corporate bigwigs and assorted choleric authoritarians.

On Sep 19. 1953 Lillian known to the stage as Lillian Boardman passed away in New York, aged 60.

Howard Smith (L) with Fredric March in "Death of a Salesman" (1951)On television, Smith played the overbearing boss Oliver Misrell in The Twilight Zone first-season episode, "A Stop at Willoughby" (1960) where angered by the loss of a major account he drove James Daly near crazy with the lecture, "You need to PUSH PUSH PUSH them!".

On television, Smith played the overbearing boss Oliver Misrell in The Twilight Zone
first-season episode, "A Stop at Willoughby" (1960) where angered by the loss of a major account he drove James Daly near crazy with the lecture, "You need to PUSH PUSH PUSH them!". He also appeared in the 1962 episode, "Cavender Is Coming" starring a young Carol Burnett. In 1962 he was cast in the Perry Mason season six episode, "The Case of the Unsuitable Uncle", as character Frank Warden.

He was regularly featured on the 1960s TV series Hazel (1961), as George Baxter's gruff client Harvey Griffin.

    Howard also appeared as angel in the 1962 Twilight Zone episode, "Cavender Is Coming" "The Corn Is as High as a Guernsey's Eye" (1967) an episode from the popular Bewitched series had Howard Smith (as C.L. Morton) opposite an unusual, uncredited, co-star!


Smith died January 10, 1968, in a Hollywood hospital, following a heart attack. He was cremated and buried, next to his wife Lillian, at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.

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References
(1) Wikipedia
(2)
IMDb
(3) IBDB
(4) RUSC

(5) My Brother's Keeper by Peggy Phillips
(6) Death of a Salesman in Bejing by Arthur Miller

Additional video & audio sources
(1)
The Twilight Zone "A Stop at Willoughby" (1960)
(2) The Twilight Zone "Cavender is Coming" (1962)

 

Page first published on Sep 1. 2017 
Last updated Sep 1, 2017 
 

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