Hollywood is in mourning today after Roger Smith, best known for bringing glamour to the TV detective genre as a hip private eye on “77 Sunset Strip,” passed away on Sunday. He was 84 years-old.
Fox News reported that Smith’s death was confirmed by his wife, legendary actress Ann-Margret, who said he died at a Los Angeles hospital after battling the nerve disease myasthenia gravis for many years.
Smith began his career in the 1950s after being discovered by James Cagney. He then starred on the ABC television show “77 Sunset Strip” from 1958-1963. He later said that the the series aimed to show that private investigators were well-trained, serious men, and not the movie and TV stereotype with “dangling cigarettes and large chips on their shoulders.”
After marrying Ann-Margret in 1967, Smith gave up on his acting career to manage hers. He guided her career with care for decades, helping her to land two Oscar nominations.
“Now in Roger I’ve found all the men I need rolled into one — a father, a friend, a lover, a manager, a businessman,” she told writer Rex Reed in 1972. “It’s perfect for me. I couldn’t exist without a strong man.”
“I have this great dream that when Ann-Margret gets out of movies, she and I will co-star in a Broadway play,” Smith said in 1976. “But right now I still think it’s impossible to be married to a successful actress and have your own career and have the marriage work.”
Rest in peace, Roger Smith! Please send thoughts and prayers to Ann-Margret as she tries to get over this loss.