Dr. Sam Smiley, well-known playwriting and screenwriting professor, author, actor, theatre director, painter, and poet, passed away peacefully at age 87 on August 15, 2018 at home in Tucson, AZ. He is survived by Ann, his loving wife of almost 66 years (married September 7, 1952); sons, Mark (Cathy) of Ashburn, VA, Steve (Sally) of St. Louis, MO, and Sean of Tucson, AZ. He has seven grandchildren: Justin (Jackie) Smiley, Sarah (Anthony) Harrison, Austin Smiley, Shavana Smiley, Cody Smiley, Clark Smiley, and Jenny Smiley. Five great-grandchildren are :Laila, Hazel, and Eden Smiley; Aaron and Liam Harrison.
Sam possessed a warm, vivacious personality making friends with everyone. He leaves a great influence on students all over the country; many of those students are now professional actors, playwrights , screen writers, or teachers. A dog lover, life-long athlete, and marathon runner, he set the record for 60 and over in the Tucson Marathon. One year he ran the Boston Marathon.
The only child of Raymond Smiley and Ada Holland Smiley, Sam was born in Columbus, IN, on February 15, 1931. He received his B.F.A. at Illinois Wesleyan University (1952), M.F.A. from University of Iowa (1955) and his Ph.D. from Indiana University (1967).
At the University of Arizona, Dr. Smiley served as Head of the Department of Theatre Arts (1987-88) and Director of Dramatic Writing (1987-93). He was Head of Dramatic Writing at Indiana University (1973-87), a Professor at the University of Missouri (1969-73), Director of Theatre and Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Evansville (1957-69), and he began his teaching career at Georgia College. He was a popular consultant in communications and writing including work on feature films and television shows.
Sam published four books. The most famous is Playwriting: The Structure of Action by Yale University Press. Many of the 32 plays he published were performed professionally. He also published a book of poetry and wrote a series for television. He acted in movies including “The Untouchables”, “Hoosiers”, and “Terminal Velocity.” He appeared in off-Broadway productions in New York. His home is full of his many beautiful paintings, some of which won awards.
He became a member of The College of Fellows of the American Theatre in 1983. He worked with theatres in Paris, Dublin, Madrid, and Barcelona. Sam created the theatre program at the University of Evansville, which remains a top theatre program today. He designed the innovative Shanklin Theatre, which opened in 1967, at the University of Evansville. One of his favorite cities is Barcelona, Spain.
A Memorial Service celebrating his remarkable life occurs on September 15, 2018, at 2 PM in St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 1431 W. Magee Rd., Tucson, AZ.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the American Cancer Society or the Humane Society.
Arrangements by Oasis Cremation and Funeral Care.
Burial at East Lawn Palms Mortuary and Cemetery.
Born: 2/15/1931, Columbus, Indiana, U.S.A.
Died: 8/18/2018, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.
Sam Smiley’s westerns – actor:
Billy the Kid (TV) – 1989 (hotel clerk)
Border Shootout – 1990 (R.D. Tindal)
The Young Riders (TV) – 1991 (rancher)
Four Eyes and Six Guns (TV) – 1992 (man with poster)
Geronimo – 1993 (Sergeant-at-Arms)