Mamet regular Lionel Mark Smith dies


Lionel Mark Smith, a stage, movie and TV actor who was a regular in David Mamet's productions, has died. He was 62.

Smith died of cancer at his Inglewood home Feb. 13, a friend, Paula Fins, told the Los Angeles Times.

"He never made anything up, he always told the truth, and every scene and every project was better for his presence," Mamet wrote the newspaper.

Smith appeared in seven Mamet films and many of his plays, including one production that created a controversy in Los Angeles.

Mamet's "Oleanna," about a university professor who is accused of sexual harassment, was to debut at the downtown Mark Taper Forum in 1994 but stalled when Mamet insisted that Smith play the professor.

Taper officials considered Smith an unknown and were concerned that he would be unable to carry the play. Smith, who is black, and Mamet suggested that racism was involved.

Smith did appear in another local production of "Oleanna" in a smaller theater.

Smith was born in Chicago in 1946.

"My father was a heroin dealer and my mother died of alcoholism. ... I had to think my way out of the ghetto," Smith told the Times in 1994.

His three-decade movie career included dozens of mainly minor appearances in movies and TV shows, including "Days of Our Lives" and "The Unit." His last role was as a homeless man in last year's movie comedy, "Stuck."

He had no immediate survivors.