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Laramie Movie Scope:
Cheryl Smith, RIP

Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith, blonde, B-movie bombshell, RIP

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November 6, 2002 -- Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith, the blonde star of classic B-Movies of the 1970s and early 1980s, passed away on October 25 following a bout with hepatitis. She was 47 years old.

Cheryl Smith was born on June 6, 1955, in Los Angeles. Her mother was also an entertainer and, following the divorce of her parents when she was 7 or 8, she moved with her Mom to an apartment in Hollywood, just south of Sunset Boulevard and east of La Brea. As such, she literally grew up as a child of the Sunset Strip. She hung out at the famed music clubs of the era, playing drums with several groups and noted performers, including Joan Jett. In fact, her stage name -- Rainbeaux -- was derived from (and reportedly given to her by the staff at) the famous Rainbow Room because of her constant presence there.

Through contacts made at the club, she made the jump from the Sunset scene into films, appearing in her first movie in 1971 when she was just 15, playing an uncredited bit part in "Evel Knievel."

Smith's first major role came in the 1972 low-budget horror film "Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural" (also known as "Lemora, Lady Dracula"). Smith played an innocent young singer in a church choir who is lured into the lair of a sultry lesbian vampire. The film was originally designed for release through drive-ins and grindhouse cinemas, but over time it developed a significant cult following and received long-overdue recognition with a belated New York theatrical premiere in 2001 at the Two Boots Den of Cin theater and inclusion in a recent horror festival at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Smith went on to appear in more than 30 movies, most notably lower-budget B-Movies such "Caged Heat" (1974), "Revenge of the Pom Pom Girls" (1976) and "Up in Smoke" (1978); she also appeared in occasional A-list productions including "Farewell My Lovely" (1975) and "Melvin and Howard" (1980).

Off-screen, Smith battled an on-going heroin addiction which eventually destroyed her career and life. She was twice jailed, and at one point earned money while in prison by designing elaborate tattoos for fellow inmates. She also was homeless for a period of time, living on the streets near MacArthur Park in Los Angeles.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9, 2002, at the Little Chapel of Flowers, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Glendale, CA, with interment to follow.

Biographical information provided by the Internet Movie Database and Mobius Home Video Forum and Phil Hall of the Online Film Critics Society. For more on Cheryl Smith, click here for a filmography and other information from a fan site.

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)