Edward “Eddie” Smith, who fought to get Hollywood jobs for African-American stuntmen and co-founded the Black Stuntmen’s Association died June 24 in Los Angeles. He was 81.
Smith worked as a stuntman or stunt coordinator on such motion pictures and TV shows as “Dirty Harry,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Scarface,” and the miniseries “Roots.”
Smith started working in Hollywood in 1955 as a movie extra and the idea for a black stunt group was hatched in 1963 while he was working as an extra on “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.” Smith saw a white stuntman being made up to be the double for black actor Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and considered it an insult.
Smith and Henry Kingi were later among a group of blacks — fellow re-enactors of the all-black Buffalo Soldiers cavalry — who broke the color barrier in the Hollywood stunt industry by establishing the Black Stuntmen’s Association in 1967. The group was eventually phased out as more blacks entered the field.
In addition to his wife Denise, Smith is survived by numerous children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.