Archie Smith, Beloved Denver Actor and Teacher, Dead at 86

Obituaries   Archie Smith, Beloved Denver Actor and Teacher, Dead at 86
Denver Center Theatre Company lost one of its family members June 9 with the death of actor and instructor Archie Smith, whose work was seen at the resident Colorado theatre, as well as on Broadway.
Archie Smith
Archie Smith

Mr. Smith was 86 and died at his Denver home, with son Judd at his side. He coped with Parkinson's Disease in recent years. He was preceded in death by his actress wife, Kay Doubleday, who died in 1995.

In the tight-knit Denver acting community, where DCTC is the major resident company, Mr. Smith's passing has the same impact the loss of a Lunt or a Merman did on the Broadway community, colleagues said. He first came to Denver Center in 1983-84 and settled in the Mile High City. He would live to see the Equity troupe win a Tony Award honor for regional theatre.

Mr. Smith made his Broadway debut with Helen Hayes in Harriet more than 60 years ago, according to Denver Center.  He also appeared on the New York stage in Inherit the Wind with Paul Muni, Madwoman of Chaillot, The Show Off, The Andersonville Trial, Noel Coward's Fallen Angels with Nancy Walker and many other works.

Retired as a full-time actor with the DCTC and as a National Theatre Conservatory instructor, he made "comeback" performances at Denver Center in 1998 as Cervantes in Don Quixote and in 2000 as The Magistrate's Clerk in Nagle Jackson's translation of The Miser.

His numerous Denver Center credits since 1983-84 include Verges in Much Ado About Nothing, Monsieur LaFlush in The Imaginary Invalid, CK in Star Fever, Grampa in The Grapes of Wrath, Emmett in World of Mirth, Polonius in Hamlet, Nonno in Night of the Iguana and Kit Carson in Time of Your Life and many others. Graduate students entering the National Theatre Conservatory at DCTC would, before entering the program, meet with Mr. Smith for an hour to talk about the business. He would mix personal and professional anecdotes in a welcome that brought with it decades of experience.

Company members of DCTCs A Christmas Carol for many years would spend Christmas eve at Mr. Smith's home after the performance.

Mr. Smith was named artist emeritus by Donovan Marley, artistic director of the DCTC.

  Marley said, "Archie is the spirit of the Denver Center Theatre Company — a superb artist, he was a mentor and irreplaceable friend of each member of the company.  Our obligation is to be sure his spirit lives in our work and to that end, we will dedicate to him the 2004-2005 season."

Donald R. Seawell, Chairman of The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, said, "I have known Archie for more than 50 years.  He was a great friend, a wonderful actor and a wonderful human being.  He contributed immeasurably to the development of The Denver Center."

Longtime DCTC acting company member and close friend Jamie Horton said, "Archie's spirit will remain strong, that much I know.  His passion for the theatre, his passion for life, has been passed on indelibly to everyone that knew him.  We cherish his friendship and his artistry, and will miss him terribly."

Mr. Smith's TV and film credits include "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" with Andy Garcia, "Conogher" with Sam Elliot, "Perry Mason" and the TV film "Asteroid."

Mr. Smith is survived by his son Judd, daughter Callie Restenburger, her husband Eric and his grandchildren Carl and Sylvia.  Funeral arrangements are pending.

In late September, when the company has assembled to begin work on next season, a special celebration of his life and his life's work will be held.


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