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One year ago: Cecil Smith

July 11, 2010 |  6:00 am

Cecil-smithCecil Smith, who covered the television and entertainment scene for The Times from the 1950s to the 1980s, brought a kind of sophistication to television reviews that is rarely seen today. He died one year ago.

Smith advocated for literate, high-quality television while the medium was still young. He was called a "giant in the business" by his successor, Howard Rosenberg.

"Cecil was such a graceful writer," Rosenberg said. "You could wake him up at 2 in the morning and set him down at a typewriter and within an hour he'd turn out a gracefully written piece with all the right references and all the right phraseology that would take me a week to turn out. He was just a terrific writer and a very literate person."

Smith began his Times career as a reporter and feature writer in 1947 and became an entertainment writer in 1953. He was the entertainment editor and a drama critic in the 1960s, and in 1969 he became the paper's television critic and a columnist for The Times' syndicate.

Smith served as a captain in the Army Air Forces during World War II and as a pilot flew a B-24 Liberator in the South Pacific. After the war, he wrote radio plays and television scripts before getting involved in journalism.

For more, read Cecil Smith's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Cecil Smith