An esteemed, highly-charged and highly-talented player of stage, TV and film, Lois Smith has not always been regular in the visual media, but she has made the chances count. She made her Broadway debut as a high school student in "Time Out for Ginger" in 1952, and her TV debut in the live production of "The Apple Tree" the next year. Smith made an auspicious film debut as the thwarted barmaid Ann in Elia Kazan's "East of Eden" (1955). Although she was eclipsed in the public eye by James Dean and Jo Van Fleet, nevertheless, she was rewarded by the critics. Yet it was not until 1970 that Smith again had a showy film role. Her performance as Partita, Jack Nicholson's sister, in Bob Rafelson's "Five Easy Pieces", won her the National Society of Film Critics' Award as Best Supporting Actress. In 1976, she was the suicidal Anita in Paul Mazursky's cinematic memoir, "Next Stop, Greenwich Village" Film roles followed at the rate of about one per year, but rarely did she get to showcase her abilities until 1995 when Smith was the adult Sophie, still thinking of her years as a swimming champion, in Jocelyn Moorhouse's "How to Make an American Quilt" and Susan Sarandon's mother in "Dead Man Walking". In Jan De Bont's "Twister" (1996), she offered stalwart support as scientist Helen Hunt's aunt while in "Larger Than Life" (also 1996), Smith was a retired circus performer.