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Smith, William, Actor

SMITH, WILLIAM, ACTOR (c. 1730-1819), English actor, the son of a city tea merchant, was educated at Eton and went up to Cambridge, but his wild pranks soon ended his college career and brought him back to London. His first stage appearance was in 1753 at Covent Garden, where he remained for twenty years, playing important parts. In 1774 he was at Drury Lane under Garrick's management. His forte was gay comedy, and he was the original, indeed unrivalled, Charles Surface. It was in this part that he made his farewell appearance in 1788. He died on the 13th of September 1819. His sporting tastes and social connexions - he married the sister of a peer - led to his being called " Gentleman Smith," a sobriquet his manners seem to have justified. He is to be distinguished from an older English actor, William Smith (d. 1696), the friend of Betterton.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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