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William Smith (1933–2021), actor known for “Laredo,” “Rich Man, Poor Man”

by Linnea Crowther

William Smith was an actor known for roles in movies and TV shows including “Laredo” and “Rich Man, Poor Man.”

Acting career

Smith often played villains – as his did in the 1976 ABC miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man,” playing the antagonist Anthony Falconetti. But in an earlier starring role, Texas Ranger Joe Riley on the popular TV show “Laredo,” Smith was a good guy known for his strength. He played Detective Jim “Kimo” Carew on the final season of “Hawaii Five-O” and made appearances on other TV shows including “Batman,” “Dukes of Hazzard,” and “The A-Team. On the big screen, Smith had a memorable brawl with Clint Eastwood in “Any Which Way You Can” (1980) and played Conan’s father in “Conan the Barbarian” (1982) – after being considered for the lead role. His other movie appearances include “Darker Than Amber” (1970), “The Frisco Kid” (1979), “The Outsiders” (1983), and “Red Dawn” (1984) in a career with more than 300 acting credits. Smith was a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Korean War.

Smith on a favorite role

“My favorite TV screen villain would be ‘Falconetti’ from the ‘Rich Man Poor Man’ miniseries and ‘Rich Man Poor Man Book II.’ I really enjoyed working with Nick Nolte and Peter Strauss. The fight scenes with Nick and I were good ones.” —from a 2010 interview for BZ Film


Tributes to William Smith

Full obituary: The New York Times

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