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Rex Smith-How He Took Our Breath Away (and Still Does)

By Edited Sep 25, 2015 2 9

Rex Smith Teen Idol!

Rex Smith took the teen scene by storm on March 25, 1979 when he appeared in the ABC prime time movie Sooner or Later.  With flowing feathered blonde locks, chiseled good looks and a powerful singing voice, Rex’s character, Michael, not only snagged the heart of Denise Miller’s Jessie, but of adolescent girls across America.

He was born in Jacksonville, Florida on September 19, 1956 to an account executive father and homemaker mother, and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. It was not Rex’s dream to become a teen idol. As a teenager, he played in different rock bands until he moved to New York in the 1970’s. He led a band called “Rex” and recorded two albums for Columbia Records.[3350]   These were heavy metal albums, with songs like “Violent Playground” and “Call Her Easy”.   Neither one of his albums were a commercial success.[3351]

Sooner or Later with Rex Smith and Denise Miller
Rex toured with 1970’s heavy hitters such as Ted Nugent and Lynard Skynard. In 1978, this led to the  role as Danny Zuko in Broadway’s smash hit, Grease.

His talents were noticed and he was hired to play Michael Skye in the television adaptation of Bruce and Carole Hart’s teen novel Sooner or Later.  The plot of the movie centered around thirteen year old Jessie (Denise Miller), who started to take guitar lessons from Michael (Rex Smith).  She makes herself up to look sixteen-and he falls for it.  The romance starts to heat up and when Michael wants to get more physical, Jessie tells him that she is not sixteen, but thirteen.  

 

At the end of the movie, Michael promises to

Sooner or Later Made Rex Smith a Teen Idol(94276)
“take things slow” with Jessie and let her tell him when she is ready.  It ends with schmaltzy music and a long kiss that made teen girls across America melt. Although by today’s standards this movie seems unrealistic on many levels,  it resonated with girls everywhere.  A handsome rock star writes her a song and sings it to her in public-declaring his love in front of everyone! And to top it off, he lets her take control of the romance.  Sigh-it was the ultimate teenage girl‘s dream. 

The movie featured four songs by Rex Smith, and the love ballad You Take My

Sooner or Later album by Rex Smith
Breath Away became a gold record and Top Ten single for him in 1979.  His solo album, Sooner or Later, contained these songs as well as several others, and climbed to Billboards’ Top 20 as it went platinum.[3350]  Rex dominated the covers of teen magazines 16 and TeenBeat and had his face plastered in lockers and on walls around the country for the next few years.

Sooner or Later was to be his best selling single and album.  While he released two other edgier albums, they were never as successful, despite his large fan base of teenage girls.  He did briefly chart again in 1981 with a remake of Everlasting Love, a duet with Rachel Sweet.

Rex returned to Broadway in 1981 to star as Frederick in The Pirates of Penzance.  For his performance, he received the Theater World Award. [3352] He reprised his role in the 1983 movie version of the hit show.

In 1982, he replaced Andy Gibb, who was having problems with drugs, as the co-host of Solid Gold, a weekly syndicated show that counted down the top ten songs of the week that also starred Marilyn McCoo. A short-lived sci-fi crime drama television series on ABC called Street Fighter was Rex’s last regular television gig.  He had many guest starring roles on assorted series throughout the  1980’s, but was never able to regain the adulation he received when he first burst onto the scene in Sooner or Later.

In 1987, Rex took his second of four walks down the aisle (he was briefly married to Playboy bunny named Lois in the 1970's).  He married Jamie Buell and had two daughters with her, Megan and Madison.  They divorced in 1995.

Professionally, the early 1990’s were a busy time for Rex.  He returned to Broadway to star in Grand Hotel in the role of Baron Felix.  After that successful run, he would go on to star in the CBS daytime drama As The World Turns from 1990-1992.  The last big television role for Rex was in a television adaptation of Danielle Steele’s Once in a Lifetime in 1994.

In 1997, Rex once again returned to Broadway as Chauvelin in The Scarlet Pimpernel.  After his run, he married Courtney Schrag, in 1998.  They had two children together, a son named Gatsby and a daughter, Savannah.  They divorced a few years later.

Rex would have the surprise of his life in 1997.   After a stage performance in Calgary, a seventeen year old came up to him and asked for five minutes of his time.  He looked at the young man, named Brandon, and realized that he could be his son.

Turns out, he was.  Brandon was the product of a weekend fling with Karen Lakey.  It wasn’t until her son was almost seventeen and she was critically ill that she told him of his paternity.  A DNA test proved she was right.  Rex and his son have had a tight relationship ever since. [3353]

During the 2000’s Rex has hired himself out as a Celebrity Host and entertainer for corporate events.  He released a CD in 2000 entitled Simply, Rex,

Rex Smith still takes my breath away!
which was retitled in 2006 to You Take My Breath Away.  In 2008, he released another CD  entitled Back to Basics and had a successful tour of the Phillipines, where he has a huge following. [3352]

Rex took his most recent trip down the aisle with wife number four, Dr. Tracy Lin, in September 2009.

Rex Smith has done it all.  From teen idol pop star to Broadway, from television to feature films, Rex Smith has had a career that many in the business would envy.  He has not lost his boyish good looks and southern charm, and for that reason, he continues to take the breath away from women around the world.
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Comments

Apr 13, 2012 1:31am
vicdillinger
Now, wasn't that more fun? I hadn't thought about this guy in years, so at least we all now know he's still kicking! I'd also forgotten he was a much bigger star than I remembered. Good readm and a thumb!
Apr 13, 2012 8:21am
mommymommymommy
Thanks, Vic. That means the world to me coming from you!
Apr 13, 2012 2:14am
vicdillinger
OH, and thanks for reminding me waht a cutie Denise Miller was!
Apr 13, 2012 5:45am
askformore
Years ago I owned the album "Sooner or Later", I have forgotten where it is. Maybe I gave it away - I should have kept it.
Apr 13, 2012 8:24am
mommymommymommy
Thank you for your comment! I watched the Youtube videos from the movie and remembered all the songs...how scary since I have not heard them in thirty years! You can still buy the CD on Amazon!
Apr 13, 2012 10:24am
Derby
Love the hair!
Apr 13, 2012 1:35pm
mommymommymommy
I know! It is better than Farrah's!
Apr 13, 2012 6:03pm
Introspective
Great article; just like fine wine, Smith has aged well!
Apr 13, 2012 7:40pm
mommymommymommy
I agree, Introspective! He still has "it"!
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Bibliography

  1. "Rex Smith." Oldies.com. 12/April/2012 <Web >
  2. "Rex Smith." www.movies.yahoo.com. 12/4/2012 <Web >
  3. "Rex Smith History." www.rexsmith.com. 12/4/2012 <Web >
  4. Richard Jerome "Face to Face Ex-Teen Idol Rex Smith Gains a Son He Never Knew." www.people.com. 2/3/1998. 12/4/2012 <Web >
  5. "Rex Smith." wikipedia.org. 8/06/2014 <Web >

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