Roger Smith, who starred as a leading man 77 Sunset Strip, has died

By Alexia Fernandez
June 05, 2017 07:38 PM


Roger Smith, who starred as a leading man in the ’50s and ’60s in the popular ABC detective series 77 Sunset Strip, has died. He was 84.

Smith — who managed the career of his wife, actress Ann-Margret — passed away Sunday morning at Sherman Oaks Hospital, PEOPLE confirms. No cause of death has been announced. His funeral service will be private, his rep tells PEOPLE.

Smith’s passing comes less than a month after he and Ann-Margaret celebrated their 50th anniversary on May 8.

The actor portrayed Jeff Spencer, one-half of a detective pair on 77 Sunset Strip, with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. playing his partner, Stu Bailey. Smith also starred in such films as Man of a Thousand Faces (1957), No Time to be Young (1957) and Auntie Mame (1958) with Rosalind Russell.

In 1980, the actor was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a nerve-and-muscle disorder. It was around that time he began to manage his wife’s career.

Roger Smith and his first wife, actress Victoria Shaw
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Ann-Margret told PEOPLE in March that by the third date she knew Smith was the one. “I knew he would protect me. I knew that I could depend on him. I sensed it completely,” she said.

Ann-Margret, 76, said the secret to their long-lasting relationship was laughter.

“We laugh at ourselves. We get into weird situations. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you are in trouble. We laugh before everyone else does,” she said of Smith.

The couple eloped in 1967 in Las Vegas, though Ann-Margret said she cried all through the ceremony.

“I go into this room and you could cut the smoke with a knife,” she told PEOPLE. “This is not the way I envisioned my wedding. I think everyone thought I was pregnant because I was crying through the whole thing.”

Despite the lackluster wedding, their marriage was a success. The actress and singer told PEOPLE the secret to their marriage was quite simple.

“We both want it to work. We just both want to have it work,” she said.