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Smith (Justin) Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
    Title: Justin Smith papers
    Identifier/Call Number: Coll2015-011
    Physical Description: 1.2 Linear Feet 1 flat archive box
    Date (inclusive): 1932-1985
    Abstract: Photographs and a scrapbook documenting the personal life and career of Justin Smith, 1932-1985. Smith was an actor, acting coach, and prominent figure in the gay rights movement in Los Angeles in the late 1970s.

    Biographical / Historical

    Justin Smith was born on June 15, 1921, in Syracuse, New York. Affected by anti-Semitism growing up, Smith worked to bring Jewish and Christian groups together at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a bachelor of science in economics. In 1943, he joined the Navy's officer training program and the following year became the youngest commanding officer in the Pacific Fleet. In 1948, he got a part in a theater production in New York and gave up a career in economics for one in acting. In Los Angeles, Smith appeared in television and movies, then opened his own acting studio, Justin Smith Studio, in West Hollywood in 1967.
    The Mark IV Slave Auction bust by the Los Angeles police in 1976 infuriated Smith and ultimately induced him to publically come out as gay and become active in the community. Smith was a founding member of the ACLU Gay Rights Chapter, a founding board member of the New Alliance for Gay Equality (NEW AGE), and a founding member of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Police Advisory Task Force. He served on the Building Committee of the Gay Community Services Center, was the entertainment director for the Stonewall Democratic Club, and acted as a team leader for the Advocate Experience. Smith worked on the No on 6 Committee to defeat the Briggs Initiative, served on the advisory council of the Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles (MECLA), was a member of both Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the Gay Academic Union (GAU). Smith continued on as an acting coach and conducted workshops to help people improve their communications skills. In 1982, the California Arts Council awarded him its first artist-in-residency grant. He also received sponsorship for his work from the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center. He wrote a column in Frontiers from 1984-1985 titled "Growing Older in Gay America." Justin Smith died in February 1986.

    Scope and Contents

    Photographs and a scrapbook documenting the personal life and career of Justin Smith, 1932-1985. The scrapbook includes clippings, fliers, correspondence, pamphlets, and an arrest report by Los Angeles police in 1966.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the ONE Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at USC Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder #, or item name] Justin Smith Papers, Coll2015-011, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Kyle Morgan, 2015.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Date and method of acquisition unknown.