Family & Companions
A would-be leading man, Kent Smith was a dependable actor who had a distinguished career but never really achieved star status. A venerable theater performer, he made his Broadway debut in 1932 and went on to appear in "Saint Joan" and "Antony and Cleopatra" among other productions. His film career began in 1936 with an unmemorable role in "The Garden Murder Case," but it was in the horror film "Cat People" that he first gained notice. The cult favorite from 1942 was directed by Jacques Tourneur and featured Smith as Oliver Reed, a man married to a woman who is part feline. He also starred in the less successful sequel, "The Curse of the Cat People," two years later. Smith would often play the friend of the leading man or an unsuccessful suitor, as he did in 1949's "The Fountainhead," when he was the fiancé of Patricia Neal's character. He appeared alongside many of the era's biggest stars, such as Ethel Barrymore in "The Spiral Staircase" and Susan Hayward in "My Foolish Heart." As he aged Smith became a character actor and increasingly appeared on TV. He had a recurring role on the late-'60s sci-fi series "The Invaders" and played Dr. Robert Morton on over 50 episodes of the primetime soap opera "Peyton Place."