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'You Asked for It' Host Jack Smith


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'You Asked for It' Host Jack Smith

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Jack Smith

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, California -- Jack Smith, a singer and recording artist with a career that spanned over 60 years and who hosted the popular "You Asked for It" television show, died from leukemia on Monday, July 3 at his home in Westlake Village, said Dorris Halsey, a longtime friend. He was 92.

Smith was born Jack Ward Smith on November 16, 1913, in Seattle, Washington, on Bainbridge Island. He was named after the fort where his family was stationed, Fort Ward. Soon after, Jack's younger brother, Walter. was born. His brother would later become known to film fans as actor Walter Reed, working around Hollywood as leading man and character actor.

Smith's family moved to Hawaii when his father switched military careers from the Navy to the Army. Another move followed five years later to California when Smith was 10. This was the family's last move due to his parents divorce when he was eleven. A good student, Smith decided to follow the footsteps of three uncles and become an architect.

"I liked painstaking, minute work, and imaginative work," Smith explained. "So, when I was 15 I was studying and look towards being an architect. I'd even put in my entrance exams to Dartmouth College. Just about that time, however, my whole career changed."

Plans to pursue a career in architecture were scrapped in 1931 after a high school friend told him that the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel was looking for a trio to replace the Rhythm Boys, Bing Crosby's popular trio.

Smith had sung in the high school glee club, and he and two friends, Marty Sperzel and Al Teeter, were known to imitate the Rhythm Boys at school. "We went over and tried out, and they gave us the job!" he said in an interview with Classic Images magazine. With Jack as soloist, the trio became known as the Three Ambassadors.

Smith began a singing career in the early 1930s and worked many years in radio, but is perhaps most remembered as host of the ABC series in its final season in 1958. The show invited viewers to send in suggestions for unusual things that they wanted to see on the air, like people with uncommon talent or seeing the inside vault at Ft. Knox.

Smith returned as host of a syndicated version of "You Asked for It" in the 1971-72 season, and the show was produced sporadically until 1977. He picked up the "Smiling" Jack Smith moniker after becoming a solo performer on "The Prudential Hour," a popular musical show on CBS. After many fans commented that Smith sounded as though he was smiling when he sang, host Deems Taylor to dub him "The Man With the Smile in His Voice."

In 1945, Smith began a 15-minute, five-nights-a-week radio show on CBS. Regulars on "The Jack Smith Show," which continued into the early '50s, included Dinah Shore, Margaret Whiting and Ginny Simms. Smith's radio work earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Smith's wife of 67 years, Victoria, died in 2003. He had no immediate survivors. At Smith's request, there will be no funeral service.

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