'Gentleman' Smith



  • Nickname for the English actor William Smith (1730 - 1819),because of his educated demeanour, elegant dress, and aristocraticwife.

    Smith joined Covent Garden for the 1753 season and remainedthere for two decades. In 1774 he moved over to join David Garrickat Drury Lane and in 1777 created the role of the honest wastrel CharlesSurface in Sheridan's The School for Scandal. Smith becamebest known for tragedy, however, playing Macbeth to Sarah Siddon'sfirst portrayal of Lady Macbeth and alternating the roles of Hamletand Richard III with Garrick. In 1788 he retired to live the lifeof a country gentleman in Bury St Edmunds. Of his acting career, Smithboasted that he had never played in farces or roles that requiredhim to blacken his face or fall through a trap door.