Broadway Actress Sheila Smith Passes Away at 90

Explore Smith's career, unforgettable performances, and lasting impact on the theater industry.

By: Dec. 04, 2023
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Broadway Actress Sheila Smith Passes Away at 90 Broadway actress Sheila Smith passed away on Thursday, November 30 at the age of 90, as reported by her longtime agent, Steven Unger, of BRS/Gage Talent Agency. She made her Broadway debut in Hotspot with Judy Holliday.

In 1967 she won the Theater World Award for standing by and performing for both Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur in the original Broadway production of Mame. She also appeared in the original Broadway  production of Follies at the Winter Garden Theater,  where she stood by for both Alexis Smith and Yvonne DeCarlo. It was during this time that director  Hal Prince  asked her to simultaneously stand by for Jane Russell as Joanne in Company. As luck would have it, she was on as Carlotta one evening, and had just finished singing “I’m Still Here,”  when she was shuttled  across the street to the Alvin Theater to step in for the second act of Company, performing “Ladies Who Lunch” for an ailing Jane Russell. She left Follies to create the role of Sweet Sue in the Jule Styne musical,  Sugar.

Her other Broadway credits include the original 42nd St,  The 5 O’Clock Girl, and the 1995  Hal Prince production of Showboat. She  toured with Tallulah Bankhead in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1956 , as Mame in the national tour of Mame,  Golde in Fiddler on the Roof opposite Hershel Bernardi ,the original national tour of Equus opposite Brian Bedford, the Chicago premiere of Follies, No, No, Nanette with Ruby Keeler, Forty Carats with Joan Fontaine, The Sound of Music with Shirley Jones, and the national tour of La Cage Aux Folles. She created the role of Janet in the Off-Broadway musical Taking My Turn, which was filmed for PBS. She played the role of Mitzi In the revival of Fiorello! at City Center, and subsequently replaced Eileen Rodgers as Reno Sweeney in the acclaimed  1962 Off-Broadway Revival of Anything Goes. Sheila starred in the Australian premiere of Fade Out Fade In,  as well as numerous regional and stock productions.  She also made a great many TV and film appearances throughout her career.

Donations may be made in her honor to the Entertainment Community Fund.