Legendary supermodel Shelley Smith, who first made her mark alongside comic great Martin Short on a sitcom before taking a regular spot on classic game shows like The $10,000 Pyramid, has sadly passed away at the age of 70. Smith died Tuesday at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital after a three-day battle with cardiac arrest, her husband of 18 years, actor Michael Maguire, tearfully revealed on social media.
Smith’s career flourished during the late 1970s when she gained fame for her role on the critically-acclaimed ABC series The Associates, which revolved around a group of sharp Wall Street lawyers and was considered as a sequel of sorts to The Paper Chase. Smith played an upscale Bostonian lawyer alongside Short, Joe Regalbuto, Alley Mills and Wilfrid Hyde-White, the latter featuring in a TV Guide cover in November 1979. Unfortunately the show ran just 13 episodes.
Following her years in show business, Smith capitalized on her fame by founding an egg donation program to help couples struggling with infertility. Her immense contribution to society will never be forgotten.
Joanna Smith, born on Oct. 25, 1952 in Princeton, New Jersey, was already an established model when she made the transition to acting in the early eighties, appearing as Capt. Carolyn Engel on the 1983 NBC Military drama For Love and Honor which also starred Keenen Ivory Wayans and Yaphet Kotto. Despite its interesting premise and star-studded cast, it was short-lived, with just 12 episodes filmed.
But Smith’s real talent lay in a different field altogether. Known for her agile mind and her aura of preternatural calmness, she quickly climbed to the top of the game show hierarchy, becoming a fan favorite on Super Password, Body Language and Dick Clark’s game show trilogy of $10,000 Pyramid, its inflation-adjusted $25,000 and $100,000 versions. Her skills helped her partners win thousands of dollars and earned her a place on The A.V. Club’s list of celebrities who found their “greatest fame” on game shows in 2014.
Outside of TV, Smith built a successful modeling career model that saw her appear on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour and Mademoiselle. All in all, Joanna Smith’s career showcased her talent for reading between the lines and connecting with people in a special way.
In 1979, Kim Smith made her debut in the NBC telefilm Mirror, Mirror before appearing on shows like The Associates, Fantasy Island, and Hotel. Her career continued into the 90s as Smith guest starred on Love Boat, Murder, She Wrote, Hunter, Magnum. P.I., and Simon and Simon.
But in 1991, her life took a different path. Smith obtained a master’s degree in psychology and became a marriage and family therapist. After successfully having twins through in vitro fertilization (IVF), Smith founded The Egg Donor Program shortly afterwards which was eventually renamed Hatch Fertility under her ownership.
Smith didn’t just start a business though; she gave thousands of people the experience of having children they dreamed of, but had failed to achieve. From her own struggles as she attempted IVF, Smith recognized what the fertility industry was missing and dedicated herself to providing the support she lacked to other families.
As fellow entrepreneur Anne Maguire said of Smith’s work: “It was so sweet, and she got to relive her own struggles and help other people avoid those struggles. It was beautiful to watch.”