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Subject: ARCHIVE: August 5, 1978 ~It was 40 years ago, Hollywood lost one of its enduring character players, QUEENIE SMITH whose career start on Broadway in the 1920s, parlayed into early lead and supporting screen roles by the 1930s, 40s, into a well-established career as gray-haired comic relief in popular film/TV in the last decades of her life, before her death of cancer just a month before her 80th birthday.

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Date Posted: Sunday, August 05, 07:54:35pm

American stage, television, and film actress.

Queenie Smith
(September 8, 1898 August 5, 1978)

Life and career

Queenie Smith was born in New York City on September 8, 1898, and later as a young lady was described as 5 feet 1 inch with blue eyes, blonde hair, and weighing 108 pounds. Her father was English and mother, German. She was educated at public schools, including the Horace Mann School, and matriculated at age 13 with the Ballet School of Metropolitan Opera. While a teenager, Queenie was solo danseuse of the Metropolitan Opera Company in "Aida", "Samson and Delilah", "Faust", and "La Traviata". She also appeared in musical comedies including "Helen of Troy, New York", "Sitting Pretty", "Tip Toes", "Hit the Deck", and "The Street Singer". She appeared in "Lilly Turner", "The Greeks Had a Word for It", "Little Women", "Three Cornered Moon", "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Every Thursday".

...By the 1920s she was a star on Broadway in shows such as Helen of Troy, New York (1923), Sitting Pretty (1924), and The Street Singer (1929), and by the mid-1930s had made her way into films. She starred on Broadway in George and Ira Gershwin's musical Tip-Toes (1925). She costarred in the 1936 Universal Pictures film version of Jerome Kern's Show Boat, playing Ellie May Chipley. Smith replaced stage actress Eva Puck who had starred as Chipley in the 1927 premiere and 1932 revival of Show Boat.

As the toast of Broaadway in her youth, she was even rumored to be
engaged to up-and-coming actor Cary Grant in the early 1930s.

In 1935, Smith appeared in her first Hollywood feature film,
"Mississippi", with Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields.

In the next dozen years she appeared in supporting roles in films like "Show Boat", "The Killers", "The Long Night"
and "The Snake Pit", and as Jimmy Durante's wife in 1950's "The Great Rupert" (aka; "The Christmas Gift"), among others.

Smith, seen here with Jack Lemmon, in 1955's "My Sister Eileen".

In the years that followed, Smith found steady TV roles in "The Lucy Show", "The Monkees", "That Girl", ""The Odd Couple", among many others. By the 1970s in guest performances in many television shows, including The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, A.E.S. Hudson Street, Rhoda, Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, and two Barney Miller episodes.

Other projects included Mother, Jugs & Speed, Chico and the Man, McMillan & Wife, Love American Style, The Waltons, Here's Lucy,
The Funny Side, Hawaii Five-O, The Monkees, The Odd Couple, The Love Boat, Maude, and Little House on the Prairie (in a recurring role as "Mrs. Whipple").

Queenie Smith was a teacher and mentor to many a young actor. She taught at the Hollywood Professional School
and was the Director for the training program at Melodyland Theater, in Anaheim, California, during the 1960s.

...Smith often appeared with actor Burt Mustin, in TV's the analog comic series "The Funny Side", and "Love American Style" in the 1970s, and worked right up until the year of her death; her last role being "Elsie" in the Chevy Chase/Goldie Hawn film "Foul Play" (1978). Sadly, Miss Smith died of cancer, just one month before her 80th birthday, and was interred at Hollywood Forest Lawn Cemetery, in No.Hollywood, CA.

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