Roger Smith, star of ’77 Sunset Strip,’ dies at age 84

Actor Roger Smith, who brought swanky cool to the TV detective genre as a hip private eye on “77 Sunset Strip,” has passed away. He was 84.

The actor launched his career in the 1950s when James Cagney spotted him and recommended him for films. He survived two serious illnesses to have a second career after “77 Sunset Strip” as manager of his second wife, entertainer Ann-Margret.

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From 1958 to 1963, he co-starred with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. on the glossy ABC series. It made stars of both men and a teen heartthrob out of Edd Byrnes, who played a jive talking hepcat parking lot attendant named Kookie.

Smith told the Los Angeles Times that the series aimed to show that private investigators were well-trained, serious men, and not the movie and TV stereotype with “dangling cigarettes and large chips on their shoulders.” He was chosen for the part because “I don’t look like a detective.”

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