Sid Smith, TV Director for Jimmy Durante and Bob Hope, Dies at 93
He worked on beauty pageants, 'Your Hit Parade' and with Elizabeth Taylor during his 50-year career.
Sid Smith, who directed Jimmy Durante on live television in the 1950s and later helmed several Christmas specials hosted by another legendary comedian, Bob Hope, has died. He was 93.
Smith, who also guided the televised Miss Universe Pageant and a pair of David Copperfield magic specials during his wide-ranging, 50-year career, died on Tuesday of natural causes at his home in Palm Springs, his daughter, Karen Berger, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Smith also is survived by his wife, actress Jill Donohue, who earlier had been married to actor Stacy Keach.
Smith first directed Durante on NBC’s All Star Revue, a vaudeville-type program that featured a rotating cast of comedians that also included Martha Raye, Ed Wynn, Danny Thomas and others. He then helmed episodes of NBC’s The Jimmy Durante Show, which aired for two seasons from 1954-56 and saw the gravelly voiced comic with the prominent nose close each show with his signature line, “Good night, Mrs. Calabash — wherever you are!” (It was a tribute to his late wife.)
Smith also directed episodes of Your Hit Parade, in which an orchestra played the best-selling songs of the week; produced and directed for The Bell Telephone Hour (which featured performances by such classical artists as ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev and soprano Joan Sutherland); directed the 1963 TV documentary, Elizabeth Taylor in London; and worked on VD Blues, a 1972 Emmy-winning PBS special about the dangers of venereal disease that was hosted by Dick Cavett.
Smith and Hope teamed up in such far-flung locales as Sweden, the Persian Gulf and Bermuda during their long collaboration together.
A native of Minneapolis who attended the University of Minnesota and served in the Marines and in the Navy during World War II, Smith moved to New York after finishing college and worked in advertising. His first job in show business was as an assistant director for a local program that starred famed jazz guitarist Eddie Condon, his brother-in-law.
In 1952, Smith directed the first-ever TV show at NBC’s then-new Burbank Studios.
After he retired to Palm Springs, he published a book of poems about financial folly, Money Funnies.