Blond handsome teen idol turned Broadway regular, singer/actor Rex Smith got his start in the mid-1970s fronting a hard rock band, moving into acting at the end of the decade, most notably in the star-making TV-movie "Sooner or Later" (NBC). A memorable performance in Broadway's "The Pirates of Penzance" in the early 1980s proved him more than just a pretty face, and while superstardom was fleeting, Smith stayed afloat with TV guest spots before having a stage resurgence with a co-starring role in the musical version of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" (1999).
Thin, with somewhat androgynous features and an abundance of blond curls, Smith had the ideal 70s rock look, and first hit the big time with the band Rex, securing a deal with Columbia Records and releasing a heavy metal album that boasted tracks with such titles as "Violent Playground" and "Call Her 'Easy'". Rex toured with acts including Ted Nugent and Lynyrd Skynyrd in the 1970s. Smith found greater success as a solo artist, and in 1979, when he co-starred with Denise Miller in the TV-movie "Sooner or Later", a heartthrob was born. Here he played musician Michael Skye, a seventeen-year-old who gets involved with his fourteen-year-old guitar pupil, believing she is sixteen. While the movie was in many ways typical fare, it captured the imagination of many a teenage girl and consequently won the charming Smith a notable fan base. His album "Sooner or Later", which featured the hit single "Take My Breath Away", earned platinum sales. Subsequent releases were received less warmly, and unfortunately for Smith, his reign at the top of the teen idol pile was short-lived. In 1981, hot on the heels of "Everlasting Love", his moderately successful duet with Rachel Sweet, Smith began his run on Broadway in "The Pirates of Penzance". The high-profile nature of the musical and his substantial fame meant more press for the production than Broadway was usually afforded, and Smith remained a household name. From 1982-1983, the singer-actor was host of the pop music weekly countdown program "Solid Gold". The short-lived ABC sci-fi crime drama "Street Fighter" followed in 1985, and Smith rounded out the 1980s with unremarkable guest roles in the CBS series "Murder, She Wrote", "Houston Nights" and "Cagney and Lacey", and a co-starring turn as unlikely superhero Daredevil in the NBC TV-movie "Trial of the Incredible Hulk" (1989).
In 1990, a much more distinguished looking Smith returned to Broadway in "Grand Hotel", substituting for an ailing David Carroll in the role of Baron Felix von Gaigern. Finer features came with age and a more mature demeanor came with the trappings of a family, and though Smith had left behind his teen idol days, he had no shortage of dedicated fans. He would win over a new batch beginning in 1990 when he signed on for a two-year stint on the popular CBS daytime drama "As the World Turns". Working steadily if less frequently throughout the 90s, Smith was featured in "Danielle Steele's 'Once in a Lifetime'", an NBC TV-movie based on the popular novelist's work. 1995 saw the actor return to the stage, treading the boards in Canada opposite Diahann Carroll in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical production of the fleeting-fame classic "Sunset Boulevard". Playing Joe Gillis gave Smith the opportunity to flex his dramatic muscles as well as stretch his vocal cords. In 1998, he replaced the venerable Terrence Mann as Chauvelin in the Broadway musical "The Scarlet Pimpernel", and he was subsequently featured in the touring production of "Annie Get Your Gun" in 2000. Poking fun at his stage seafaring past Smith hammed it up with a guest role as a pirate on the acerbic ABC sitcom "Norm" that same year.