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Mildred Joanne Smith, Actress Halted in Her Prime, Dies at 94

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Mildred Joanne Smith, singer, magazine editor and actress, has died at 94. (twitter)

By    |   Monday, 27 Jul 2015 11:42 AM

Mildred Joanne Smith, a singer and magazine editor whose promising acting career was cut short by injuries from an airplane crash, has died. She was 94.

In Smith's only movie performance, she played opposite of Sidney Poitier in his 1950 film debut "No Way Out," noted The Hollywood Reporter. Smith was already a Broadway veteran, performing in productions of "Men to the Sea," "Mamba's Daughters," "Beggar's Holiday," "Forward the Heart," and "A Long Way From Home," in the 1940s.

"Noted for her beauty and acting talent, Smith helped break down color barriers on Broadway in the production of 'Beggar's Holiday,' in which she played the love interest of Alfred Drake," said Smith's obituary on Legacy.com.

"('No Way Out') featured roles for black actors that were more complex and realistic than was common in Hollywood at the time," her obituary stated. "Smith received positive reviews for her performance as the stoic wife of Sydney Poitier's character, Dr. Luther Brooks, in the film."

Poitier would go on to become the first African-American to win an Academy Award for best actor in 1964 for his performance in "Lilies of the Field," according to USA Today. Five years earlier, he was nominated for best actor for "The Defiant Ones."

Smith suffered a broken back and ribs in 1952 when an airplane she was a passenger on  and traveling to Newark Airport crashed in Elizabeth, New Jersey, said THR. Of the 59 passengers on the flight, 25  died.

While she never made another motion picture after the plane crash, Smith continued singing, including in a musical revue "Cockles and Champagne" with Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

Smith married David A. Hepburn, a journalist and vice-president of WNEW-TV in New York who died in 1985, said the Daily Mail

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Mildred Joanne Smith, a singer and magazine editor whose promising acting career was cut short by injuries from an airplane crash, has died. She was 94.
mildred joanne smith, actress, dies
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2015-42-27
Monday, 27 Jul 2015 11:42 AM
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