Lois Smith


Actor
Lois Smith

About

Also Known As
Lois Arlene Humbert
Birth Place
Topeka, Kansas, USA
Born
November 03, 1930

Biography

An esteemed, highly-charged and highly-talented player of stage, TV and film, Lois Smith has not always been regular in the visual media, but she has made the chances count. She made her Broadway debut as a high school student in "Time Out for Ginger" in 1952, and her TV debut in the live production of "The Apple Tree" the next year. Smith made an auspicious film debut as the thwarted ba...

Family & Companions

Wesley Dale Smith
Husband
Teacher. Married November 5, 1948; divorced 1970.

Bibliography

"All There Is"
Lois Smith (1982)

Notes

"Ms. Smith has often played women who are damaged by life yet iron-willed about holding their families together. Many of these characters are informed by a religious awareness. They are pious but also susceptible to evil--an echo of the biblical Eve." --Gioia Diliberto in The New York Times, April 28, 1996.

"I'm more likely to get to do something that's really fu, and I really want to do, in a situation that I really want to be in, in the theater. So much of what's fun about being an actor is the opportunity to have an imaginary life, which becomes part of your present life." --Smith quoted in The New York Times, April 28, 1996.

Biography

An esteemed, highly-charged and highly-talented player of stage, TV and film, Lois Smith has not always been regular in the visual media, but she has made the chances count. She made her Broadway debut as a high school student in "Time Out for Ginger" in 1952, and her TV debut in the live production of "The Apple Tree" the next year. Smith made an auspicious film debut as the thwarted barmaid Ann in Elia Kazan's "East of Eden" (1955). Although she was eclipsed in the public eye by James Dean and Jo Van Fleet, nevertheless, she was rewarded by the critics. Yet it was not until 1970 that Smith again had a showy film role. Her performance as Partita, Jack Nicholson's sister, in Bob Rafelson's "Five Easy Pieces," won her the National Society of Film Critics' Award as Best Supporting Actress. In 1976, she was the suicidal Anita in Paul Mazursky's cinematic memoir, "Next Stop, Greenwich Village" Film roles followed at the rate of about one per year, but rarely did she get to showcase her abilities until 1995 when Smith was the adult Sophie, still thinking of her years as a swimming champion, in Jocelyn Moorhouse's "How to Make an American Quilt" and Susan Sarandon's mother in "Dead Man Walking." In Jan De Bont's "Twister" (1996), she offered stalwart support as scientist Helen Hunt's aunt while in "Larger Than Life" (also 1996), Smith was a retired circus performer.

Smith's TV work in the 70s consisted mostly of daytime dramas, with regular roles on both "Somerset" and "The Doctors." In the 80s, she began to make episodic guest appearances and was featured in several TV-movies, most notably "Skylark" (CBS, 1993). Two years later, she was Harry Truman's waspish, nasty, bigoted mother-in-law in "Truman" for HBO.

For all her TV and film roles, Smith has worked most consistently on stage. Her list of credits includes many plays on Broadway and in key American theaters, such as the Long Wharf in New Haven, CT, and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, IL. It was with the latter that Smith created the role of the indomitable Ma Joad in the stage version of "The Grapes of Wrath" in 1988. She toured with the role before bringing it to Broadway in 1990 which earned her a Tony nomination as Best Supporting Actress. Smith knocked 'em dead when she performed a key scene on the Tony Awards TV broadcast that year and in 1991, when the production aired on PBS. Her co-star, Gary Sinise, cast her as Halie, the matriarch of another family, in his 1995 Chicago production of Sam Shepard's Pulitzer-winning play "Buried Child." Again, Smith recreated the role on Broadway and earned a second Tony nomination. Smith has branched out a bit as a person of the theatre to playwriting and directing. Her "All There Is" was written in 1982 and last performed in a 1985 workshop by the Ensemble Studio Theatre. Smith has also directed at the Juilliard school.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The French Dispatch (2020)
Marjorie Prime (2017)
Lady Bird (2017)
The Nice Guys (2016)
The Comedian (2016)
Run All Night (2015)
The Greens Are Gone (2015)
Roadie (2011)
Please Give (2010)
A Dog Year (2009)
Killshot (2009)
Diminished Capacity (2008)
Griffin and Phoenix (2007)
Turn the River (2007)
Little Fugitive (2006)
Sweet Land (2006)
Hollywoodland (2006)
Iron Jawed Angels (2004)
P.S. (2004)
Ellie Silverstein
A Foreign Affair (2003)
Ma
Red Betsy (2003)
The Laramie Project (2002)
Minority Report (2002)
The Pledge (2001)
Tumbleweeds (1999)
A Will of Their Own (1998)
Trance (1998)
Hudson River Blues (1997)
Julia
Larger Than Life (1996)
Luluna
Twister (1996)
Truman (1995)
Madge Wallace Gates
Dead Man Walking (1995)
How To Make An American Quilt (1995)
Holy Matrimony (1994)
Falling Down (1993)
Skylark (1993)
Lou
Keep the Change (1992)
The White Hot: Mysterious Murder of Thelma Todd (1991)
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
Mama Threadgoode
Hard Promises (1991)
Green Card (1990)
Bronte'S Mother
Midnight Run (1988)
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Black Widow (1987)
Twisted (1986)
Helen
Reckless (1984)
The Execution of Raymond Graham (1984)
Mary Neal
Reuben, Reuben (1983)
Mary Spofford
Four Friends (1981)
Mrs Carnahan
Resurrection (1980)
Foxes (1980)
Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976)
Up the Sandbox (1972)
Elinore
Brother John (1971)
Neighbor
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Partita Dupea
The Way We Live Now (1970)
Jane Aldridge
Strange Lady in Town (1955)
Spurs O'Brien
East of Eden (1955)
Anne

Special Thanks (Feature Film)

Hamlet (2000)
Special Thanks To

Cast (Special)

Sam Shepard: Stalking Himself (1998)
The Donner Party (1992)
Voice
The Last Ferry Home (1992)
Coney Island (1991)
Voice
The Grapes of Wrath (1991)
Adams Apple (1986)
Dora Adams
The Unforgivable Secret (1982)
Victory (1960)
Alma

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Deadly Matrimony Part 1 (1992)
Switched at Birth (1991)
Doubletake (To Be Deleted) (1985)
Rage of Angels (1983)
Clara

Life Events

1952

Made her Broadway debut as Jeannie in "Time Out for Ginger"

1953

Made her first TV appearance as Megan in the Kraft Television Theater presentation of "The Apple Tree" (ABC)

1955

Made her film debut opposite James Dean in Elia Kazan's "East of Eden"

1957

Appeared in the original production of Tennessee Williams's "Orpheus Descending"

1970

Won acclaim as Jack Nicholson's sister in "Five Easy Pieces"

1972

Landed a regular role on NBC daytime drama "Somerset"

1975

Cast as a regular on NBC daytime drama "The Doctors"

1985

Had her first play as playwright produced, "All There Is"

1990

Played Ma Joad to Gary Sinise's Tom Joad in the Broadway production of "The Grapes of Wrath"; won Tony nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Play

1995

Played Sophie in "How to Make an American Quilt"

1995

Co-starred with Sinise as Harry Truman's mother-in-law in the HBO film "Truman"

1996

Directed by Sinise in stage production of "Buried Child"; earned second Tony nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Play

1996

Cast in a featured role opposite Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in the natural disaster feature "Twister"

2001

Landed small role in "The Pledge," directed by Sean Penn

2001

Portrayed Brecht's "Mother Courage" at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, Illinois

2002

Starred as Iris Hineman opposite Tom Cruise in "Minority Report"

2003

Landed a recurring role on the ABC daytime drama "One Life to Live"

2004

Appeared opposite Laura Linney in "P.S."

2005

Played Carrie Watts in a revival of Horton Foote's "The Trip to Bountiful" at Signature Theatre Company

2006

Co-starred in the independent film "Sweet Land"

2006

Played Superman actor George Reeves' grieving mother in "Hollywoodland"

2008

Was cast as Adele Stackhouse, Sookie's (Anna Paquin) grandmother on HBO's "True Blood"

2009

Co-starred in "A Dog Year" opposite Jeff Bridges

2010

Guest starred as Tom's (Doug Savant) mother Allison on "Desperate Housewives" (ABC)

2011

Played the ailing mother of the titular character (Ron Eldard) in "Roadie"

2012

Co-starred with Maura Tierney on the short-lived drama "Ruth & Erica"

2014

Originated the role of Marjorie in Jordan Harrison's play, "Marjorie Prime"

2016

Was featured in Robert De Niro vehicle "The Comedian"

2016

Appeared in the period comedy/thriller "The Nice Guys"

2017

Reprised role of Marjorie in feature adaptation, "Marjorie Prime"

2017

Played a nun and catholic school teacher in "Lady Bird," Greta Gerwig's semi-autobiographical love letter to Sacramento, California

Videos

Movie Clip

Strange Lady In Town (1955) - They Call Him Billy Unpacking house in 1880's Santa Fe, Boston doctor Julia (Greer Garson) meets local "Spurs" (Lois Smith) who brings first patient Joe (Bob Foulk), accompanied by Nick Adams as one William Bonney, another generous Hollywood portrait of the murderous outlaw, early in Strange Lady In Town, 1955.
Strange Lady In Town (1955) - Is That The Proper Spirit? The morning after her arrival in 1880's Santa Fe, Boston doctor Julia (Greer Garson) receives her army officer brother David (Cameron Mitchell), accompanied by his orderly (Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez) and ubiquitous teen "Spurs" (Lois Smith), in Strange Lady In Town, 1955.
East Of Eden (1955) - Monterey, 1917 Director Elia Kazan’s opens his treatment of the last section of John Steinbeck’s novel, nervous Cal (James Dean, in his first starring role) follows cagey Kate (Jo Van Fleet) through Monterey (actually Humboldt County), California, not explaining their relationship, in East Of Eden, 1955.
East Of Eden (1955) - Is There Anything Nice About Her At All? Anxious Cal (James Dean) charms hired-girl Anne (Lois Smith) into showing him to the office of Kate (Jo Van Fleet), who runs the brothel and also, the audience has surmised, is his long-lost mother, in Northern California, 1917, Elia Kazan directing, from John Steinbeck’s novel, East Of Eden,1955.
Strange Lady In Town (1955) - Western Horses Spunky "Spurs" (Lois Smith) has procured a rig for Julia (Greer Garson), the new from Boston doctor in 1880's Santa Fe, from her chauvinist doctor father O'Brien (Dana Andrews), whom she finally meets, cute, in Strange Lady In Town, 1955.

Trailer

Family

William Oren Humbert
Father
Telephone company employee.
Carrie Davis Humbert
Mother
Moon Elizbeth Smith
Daughter
Born 1958.

Companions

Wesley Dale Smith
Husband
Teacher. Married November 5, 1948; divorced 1970.

Bibliography

"All There Is"
Lois Smith (1982)

Notes

"Ms. Smith has often played women who are damaged by life yet iron-willed about holding their families together. Many of these characters are informed by a religious awareness. They are pious but also susceptible to evil--an echo of the biblical Eve." --Gioia Diliberto in The New York Times, April 28, 1996.

"I'm more likely to get to do something that's really fu, and I really want to do, in a situation that I really want to be in, in the theater. So much of what's fun about being an actor is the opportunity to have an imaginary life, which becomes part of your present life." --Smith quoted in The New York Times, April 28, 1996.