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The Most Interesting Man in the World


March 12, 2016

No, I am not referring to the Dos Equis beer commercial. This man is real, and I find him almost unbelievable. After you read this, you will begin to question your mere existence.

Just a cowboy

I have seen many of his 300 films and television episodes and always thought highly of him as one of the really good "bad guys" in the media. Thinking back, I wonder now how I could have left him out of my Hub a couple of years ago titled, "Top Actors in Bad Guy Film Roles", but then most of the men listed in that Hub were Oscar winners, or at least, big names to the viewing audience. I never even knew this man's name until recently.

William Smith II has done things that put him right up there with James Bond, Superman, Bruce Lee, John Wayne, Evil Knievel, Muhammad Ali, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, if you asked him, he would probably still tell you that he is a simple cowboy.

Born on a cattle ranch in Columbia, Missouri on March 24, 1933, he fell in love with horses early on and would carry that love and ability to ride over to his many western films. After losing their ranch to the great dust bowl, Smith's family moved to California where his career in Hollywood would begin at the age of eight and extend over six decades.

Early Career

As a child, he had small parts in such films as "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", "Song of Bernadette", and "The Ghost of Frankenstein". At the age of 18, he enlisted in the air force and began to further his education. This is the point where you begin to get the picture I am painting of this highly talented human being.

He would study at the Sorbonne in Paris and the University of Munich in Germany learning languages. When word reached high command that William could speak five languages fluently, including German, French, Russian, and Serbo-Croation, he was recruited by the NSA and would find himself flying secret missions over Eastern Bloc countries during the Korean War as well as serving as a Russian interrogator. He held both NSA and CIA clearance but lost both clearances after marrying a French actress who would bear him a child.

While serving in the Air Force, he would win the United States Air Force weight lifting championship, the 200 lb arm wrestling championship which he would eventually win multiple times with those 18 1/2" biceps, and the Air Force boxing championship in his weight division with a 31-1 record.

While stationed in Germany, he studied martial arts, played semi-pro football, and participated in downhill skiing and motocross events. He held the world record for reverse-curling 163 lbs. Pretty amazing so far, huh?

He would continue his education after serving his country. He received his BA at Syracuse University and then graduated Cum Laude with a Masters degree in Russian Studies at UCLA. Yes, you can be both macho and an intellectual.

While working on his Ph.D. and teaching Russian classes at UCLA, he received a contract from MGM to be a stunt-man for Lex Barker who was playing Tarzan. He would later turn down the role of Tarzan. The next 40 years would be a far cry from teaching Russian.


William hits the bigtime

After years of playing in westerns and biker flicks where he did his own stunts with both horses and motorcycles and took on legendary film stars in bar brawls and bare-knuckled fistfights in the ring, William was offered the part that would make him a household name.

If you haven't recognized him to this point, you should recognize him by the name of his character, "Falconetti" in the televised series, "Rich Man, Poor Man" in 1976, or by the photo below that belies the damage bestowed upon him by one of the two main characters in the series.

He was in the Batman series in 1968, a regular in the series Hawaii Five-O, along with numerous other films and series, but for me, it was Falconetti that hit a home run.

One of the truly great fight scenes in cinematic history was between William and Clint Eastwood in the 1980 film, "Any Which Way You Can" which portrays bare-knuckle brawlers fighting for money. Another memorable role was playing Arnold Schwarzenegger's dad in "Conan the Barbarian" in 1982.

He was in the final episode of Batman, the first episode of The Rockford Files, and the last episode of Hawaii Five-O gave him screen credit.


The Most Interesting Man in the World

This man has done so many different and exciting things that I feel like I have only taken the first step in a race, and he went all the way to the finish line. It truly fascinates me to see how diversified and talented and intelligent and physical he is. There is so much to William Smith that I want to finish by giving you a list to recap everything so far and include much that was left out. Did I mention that he is a poet? The following is one of his poems...........

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Lord, won’t you let me wake up one more day
Lord, won’t you let me mount my bony old bay
When I was young and hard how I loved the trail
But now I’m old and tired and my life’s gone stale
My skin turned to rust, beat by prairie rain
My pockets full of dust, bones full of pain
I’ve been chasing doggies and ridin’ range
Since I was a whelp and I’ll never change
But my heart’s still young after all the years
My eyes still clear, washed clean by salty tears
Lord, won’t you let me wake up one more day
Lord, won’t you let me mount my bony old bay
Won’t forget spring bustin’ out green and bold
And winter’s wounded grass, stiff and cold
And timber wolves so close I’d feel them sigh
Nights so lonely I felt I’s gonna cry
Oh, that feel of clean sheets in some rank cow town
’Fore the trail dirt and sweat stained ’em all brown
And bar girls pumping power ’tween my thighs
And I can still hear their satisfied cries
Lord, won’t you let me wake up one more day
Lord, won’t you let me mount my bony old bay

William Smith II lives in California with his wife of 14 years, Joanne Cervelli and their dog where he writes poetry and lives quietly as a rancher just as he did in the beginning.


Lifetime Achievement Award from Academy of Bodybuilding and Fitness

2-Time Arm Wrestling World Champion in the 200 lb class

Marlboro Man in final televised commercial

Competed with Steve McQueen in motocross events

31-1 record as amateur boxer

Air Force Light-Heavyweight Weightlifting Championship

Did 5,100 continuous sit-ups over five hour period

Played semi-pro football for the Wiesbaden Flyers

Held both CIA and NSA security clearances

Flew in spy planes over Russia

Masters degree in Russian

Taught Russian at UCLA

Won a Muscle Beach contest by performing 35 inverted handstand dips

Honorary member of the Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures

Direct descendant of Kit Carson and Daniel Boone

Studied Kung Fu for eight years. Offered co-lead with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon

Fought California wildfires in California as volunteer fireman

Worked as lifeguard on French Riviera

Worked as trainer at Hollywood gym

Threw the discus 151 feet. The AAU record was 150.6 feet at the time.

Won the Light-Heavyweight German-Austrian Boxing Championship

Recipient of the 2005 Southern California Motion Picture Council Award

Inducted into the Venice Muscle Beach Bodybuilding Hall of Fame 2010.

For his work in Westerns he received the Golden Boot Award in 2003 and the Silver Spur Award in 2008



WILLIAM EVANS (author) from GARLAND, TEXAS on August 12, 2016:

Thanks for your input!

James Ranka from Port Neches on August 12, 2016:

Really liked him in the old, old TV series, "Laredo". He played a character named Joe Riley. Joe and his sidekick, Chad Cooper were always framing Reese Bennet, played by Neville Brand.

WILLIAM EVANS (author) from GARLAND, TEXAS on July 24, 2016:

I am a trivia buff and love your comment!

Charlie LeSueur from Phoenix, AZ on July 24, 2016:

By-the-way, if you watch Rich Man, Poor Man I & II, notice that Falconetti loses his left eye, however after a hiatus in shooting it's his right eye that sports the eye patch.

I asked Bill about that, and he said that he brought that to their attention, but the continuity person said he was wrong.

WILLIAM EVANS (author) from GARLAND, TEXAS on July 24, 2016:

Thank you for your comment.

Sukhneet Kaur Bhatti from India on July 24, 2016:

Wow, thank you for the information on this media's bad guy.

WILLIAM EVANS (author) from GARLAND, TEXAS on July 23, 2016:

I know you will think he is from another planet just like I did. Thanks for your comments.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 23, 2016:

Wow! Impressive information, I thank you so much for sharing.

I will look for him in older movies and HI 50 reruns.


Charlie LeSueur from Phoenix, AZ on July 17, 2016:

Having spent time with Bill and Joanne, I can tell you they are exceptional people. One of my highlights was just sitting back and listening to him and L.Q. Jones reminisce about the old days as if no one else where around. A golden time.

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