Dean Smith was a gold medal-winning Olympic sprinter and notable Hollywood stuntman. He doubled for stars like John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and Paul Newman in films like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Towering Inferno.”
Dean Smith’s legacy
Born in Breckenridge, Texas, Smith’s athleticism was at the center of almost every career success he enjoyed. At the University of Texas, he ran track and played football, which led to him competing in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. There, he won a gold medal with the U.S. 4 x 100-meter relay squad and finished fourth in the 100-meter dash. He returned home and helped his college team, the Longhorns, win the 1953 Cotton Bowl.
Before entering the Hollywood scene, Smith served a stint in the U.S. Army, became an amateur rodeo champion, and briefly played for the Los Angeles Rams. It was actor James Garner who helped him land roles in the movies, and once the roles started coming in, they did not stop. Smith doubled for Paul Newman seven times (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and others) and for his childhood hero, Roy Rogers, as well as for George Hamilton, Robert Redford, John Wayne, and many others.
Smith’s work earned him induction into several Halls of Fame, including the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, National Multicultural Western Heritage Museum and Hall of Fame, Texas Track and Field Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and Hollywood Stuntman’s Hall of Fame. He also earned Silver Spur and Golden Boot awards.
Tributes to Dean Smith
Full obituary: The Hollywood Reporter