Out of her hundreds of TV appearances, Martha Smith is perhaps best known as “Francine Desmond”, intelligence agent (and nemesis of star Kate Jackson) on the CBS series Scarecrow and Mrs. King (1983). Raised in Farmington, MI, Martha–an honor student with a mention in “Who’s Who of American Students”–enrolled in Michigan State University at 17 to study psychology. She soon became an in-demand model and spokeswoman, whose travel demands uprooted her from her studies. She was “discovered” by a scout for “Playboy” magazine, selected as a centerfold (Miss July 1973) and promptly sent back on the road on press junkets. That road led to California. With the support of Universal Studios Contract Department, Martha honed her thespian skills in workshops while appearing in featured TV roles (How the West Was Won (1976), Quincy M.E. (1976), Charlie’s Angels (1976), etc.). Her first major film role was in the comedy blockbuster National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), where her “Barbara ‘Babs’ Jansen” character, a devious cheerleader, was arch-rival to John Belushi’s “Bluto”. Shortly after, she shared star billing with Debbie Allen in the CBS pilot Ebony, Ivory and Jade (1979), which marked her professional singing/dancing debut.
During the actors strike of 1980, Martha produced and starred in an award-winning production of “Vanities”, co-starring with Rita Wilson (wife of Tom Hanks). More TV appearances followed (Happy Days (1974), Taxi (1978), Dallas (1978), Fantasy Island (1977) and a special guest-starring role on a one-hour episode of Love, Sidney (1981) (as Tony Randall’s love interest). Martha then went on to star as a regular on NBC’s soap opera Days of Our Lives (1965). One month after leaving “Days”, she landed the “Scarecrow” pilot, and spent the next four years on the popular series. Martha was co-creator and writer of the board game “Beverly Hills – a Game of Wealth & Status”, a “Monopoloy”-type game that was a satire of the community she has lived in for over 20 years.
In 1987, she was included in the photo exhibit (and book) “The World’s Most Beautiful Faces” with such luminaries as Brooke Shields and Linda Evangelista. As a member of various improv groups in the 1990s, Martha used her writing skills to pen comedic sketches for live performances in L.A. clubs. In 1996, she co-authored a non-fiction book entitled, “Downdating”. The late 1990s saw Martha dabbling in production capacities on several indie films. In 1997, she and a partner wrote a futuristic socio-political screenplay (“Phoenix File”). Martha studied for three years at UCLA in production, screenwriting and language, and speaks French and Italian fluently. She has also negotiated real-estate deals for a selective clientèle in the L.A. estates market. In 1999, she began to sing again in local L.A. clubs, everything from French “chansons” to R&B duets. Then, on May 7, 2000, she married her singing partner, Keith England (formerly of The Allman Brothers Band, Montrose, The Tubes, among others). Keith also works in post-production and sings with his band as well as in various Film & TV projects. The couple resides happily in Beverly Hills. In 2000, Martha ventured back into acting and can be seen next in Netflix’s upcoming comedy film, “A Futile & Stupid Gesture”.
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