Jack Smight

John R. Smight (March 9, 1925 – September 1, 2003)[1] was an American theatre and film director.[2][3]

Jack Smight
Born(1925-03-09)March 9, 1925[1]
DiedSeptember 1, 2003(2003-09-01) (aged 78)[1]
OccupationTheatre director, film director, film producer

His film credits include Harper (1966), No Way to Treat a Lady (1968), The Traveling Executioner (1970),[4] Rabbit, Run (1970), Airport 1975 (1974),[5] Midway (1976),[2] Damnation Alley (1977), Loving Couples (1980), and the Columbo episode "Dead Weight".[2]


Smight was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and went to Cretin High School with future actor Peter Graves.

He joined the Army Air Forces, flying missions in the Pacific during World War II, before earning his degree at the University of Minnesota. He then sought work as an actor.[6] He worked as a radio actor and had a bit part in a stage production of Anna Lucasta.

He became stage manager for TV's The Good Egg of the Week and then assistant director on The Colgate Comedy Hour and The Dennis Day Show. He said a big break was working on Visit to a Small Planet with Cyril Ritchard.[7]

In 1959, he won an Emmy for his direction of the hour-long play Eddie, which starred Mickey Rooney. He directed the 1960 Broadway play The 49th Cousin. He directed episodes for The Twilight Zone and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Smight's first feature film was I'd Rather Be Rich (1964), a remake of It Started with Eve (1941). Smight said "it was not a particularly good script but it opened up a whole new life for me."[7]

Smight then signed a contract with Warners to make six films at one a year. He produced and directed The Third Day (1965) and then directed the Paul Newman starring vehicle Harper (1966), a big hit.[8] He was meant to follow it with Kaleidescope with Warren Beatty but ended up not directing.[7]

In 1966 he signed a three-picture deal with the Mirisch Brothers and bought the rights to the novel The Illustrated Man.[9] In 1968, he directed the cult classic comedic thriller No Way to Treat a Lady, starring Rod Steiger and George Segal. Other notable films directed by Smight include Airport 1975 (1974) and Midway (1976).

Smight's last film was a US-Swiss co-production, The Favorite (1989), also known as La Nuit du serail.

Smight died from cancer in Los Angeles in 2003.[1] Smight's wife of more than 50 years, actress Joyce Cunning, died the year before. He is survived by two sons, Tim and Alec; a sister; and four grandchildren.



Year Title Notes
1964 I'd Rather Be Rich
1965 The Third Day
1966 Harper
1966 Kaleidoscope
1968 The Secret War of Harry Frigg
1968 No Way to Treat a Lady
1969 The Illustrated Man
1969 Strategy of Terror
1970 Rabbit, Run
1970 The Traveling Executioner
1974 Airport 1975
1976 Midway
1977 Damnation Alley
1979 Fast Break
1980 Loving Couples
1987 Number One with a Bullet
1989 The Favorite


Television Series

Year Title Notes
1949 One Man's Family TV series
1955 Repertory Theatre 2 episodes
1955 Goodyear Playhouse 2 episodes
1956-57 Climax! 13 episodes
1956-58 General Electric Theater 2 episodes
1957 The Seven Lively Arts Episode: "The Sound of Jazz"
1957-58 Studio One in Hollywood 4 episodes
1957-58 Suspicion 3 episode
1958 Alcoa Theatre Episode: Eddie
1959 Oldsmobile Music Theatre Episode: "A Nice Place to Hide"
1959 The DuPont Show with June Allyson 2 episodes
1959-61 The Twilight Zone 4 episodes
1960 The United States Steel Hour Episode "Shadow of a Pale Horse"
1960-61 Art Carney Special 2 episodes
1960-61 Sunday Showcase 2 episodes
1960-61 Our American Heritage 4 episodes
1961 Naked City Episode: "Dead on the Field of Honor"
1961 Route 66 Episode: "Goodnight Sweet Blues"
1961 The Law and Mr. Jones Episode: "Lincoln"
1962 The Defenders 2 episodes
1962 The DuPont Show of the Week 5 episodes
1962 Alcoa Premiere Episode: "Broken Year"
1963 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour 4 episodes
1963 East Side/West Side 2 episodes
1963 Arrest and Trial 5 episodes
1963-64 Dr. Kildare 3 episodes
1964-65 Kraft Suspense Theatre 4 episodes
1971 Columbo Episode: "Dead Weight"
1971-72 McCloud 2 episodes
1972 Banacek 2 episodes
1972 Madigan 2 episodes
1986 Code of Vengeance 2 episodes

Television Films

Year Title Notes
1958 Victor Borge's Comedy in Music III TV movie
1959 The Ten Commandments TV movie
1959 The Sound of Miles Davis TV movie
1960 Destiny, West! TV movie
1961 Westinghouse Presents: Come Again to Carthage TV movie
1961 The Enchanted Nutcracker TV movie
1962 Westinghouse Presents: That's Where the Town Is Going TV movie
1972 The Screaming Woman TV movie
1972 The Longest Night TV movie
1973 Partners in Crime TV movie
1973 Double Indemnity TV movie
1973 Linda TV movie
1973 Frankenstein: The True Story TV movie
1973 Legend in Granite TV movie
1974 The Man from Independence TV movie
1978 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry TV movie
1982 Remembrance of Love TV movie

Awards & NominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1959 Primetime Emmy Awards Directing for a Drama Series Alcoa Theatre Episode: Eddie Won [10]
1962 Westinghouse Presents: Come Again to Carthage Nominated
1970 Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation The Illustrated Man Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d Bergan, Ronald (September 19, 2003). "Jack Smight. Down-to-earth director whose stars included Bacall, Steiger and Newman". The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b c "Jack Smight". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2008. Archived from the original on June 10, 2008.
  3. ^ Myers, JP (March 8, 2018). "This is the story of Director Jack Smight's life in entertainment written by himself". Medium.
  4. ^ Variety Staff (December 31, 1969). "Review: 'The Traveling Executioner'". Variety.
  5. ^ Canby, Vincent (October 19, 1974). "Airport 1975 (1974) Screen:'Airport 1975' Is a Silly Sequel With a 747". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Obituary: Jack Smight ; Director specialising in the macabre: [FOREIGN Edition] Vallance, Tom. The Independent 16 Sep 2003: 16.
  7. ^ a b c Hollywood Kind to TV Directors Los Angeles Times 17 May 1966: c9.
  8. ^ Smight makes best of both: Go anywhere By Kimmis Hendrick. The Christian Science Monitor 3 Aug 1965: 6.
  9. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: Jack Smight Signs Contract Los Angeles Times 12 Dec 1966: D25.
  10. ^ https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0806915/awards?ref_=nm_awd

External linksEdit