R.I.P. Roger Smith of '77 Sunset Strip'
Image: The Hollywood Reporter
Roger Smith, best known as Jeff Spencer on the private detective series 77 Sunset Strip, died Sunday at the age of 84.
The actor got his start on television in the 1950s, appearing on shows like Father Knows Best, Wagon Train and The Ford Television Theater.
With a handful of acting credits, it didn't take long for Smith to land his most famous role. In 1958, Smith won the part of Jeff Spencer on 77 Sunset Strip. Along with Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., the duo portrayed a pair of flirtatious detectives who solved crimes out of their swanky office space on Sunset Boulevard.
Smith appeared in 136 episodes of the series, leaving in 1963 after five seasons. His popular character, Jeff Spencer, also appeared on episodes of Surfside 6 and Hawaiian Eye in the 1960s.
In the mid 1960s, Smith appeared on the sitcom Mister Roberts, which lasted for one season.
By the end of the decade, Smith retired from acting due to a neuromuscular disease that affected his ability to perform.
However, Smith wasn't out of the spotlight. In 1967, the actor married Swedish singer and actress Ann-Margaret. The pair met two years earlier while working on the film Once a Thief.
The same year as their marriage, Smith took over as Ann-Margaret's manager. In this position, Smith produced several television specials and movies in the 1970s, including Ann-Margaret: From Hollywood with Love and Ann-Margaret: Rhinestone Cowgirl.
Smith's acting and producing career may have never happened had it not been for a chance encounter with legendary actor James Cagney. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the two met while Smith was stationed in Hawaii with the Naval Reserve. Cagney saw potential in Smith, and encouraged him to go to Hollywood after he completed his service.
Smith passed away Sunday in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles. He's survived by his wife, Ann-Margaret, and three children from a previous relationship.