Feb 24, 2020
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B. Smith, Model Turned Restaurateur and Lifestyle Guru, Dies at 70

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Two years later, she was signed by the prestigious Wilhelmina agency in New York and began appearing on magazine covers and in print ads, her fresh, girl-next-door looks ideally suited for products like Oil of Olay and Noxzema. She appeared multiple times on the covers of Ebony and Essence, and in July 1976 became only the second black model to appear on the cover of Mademoiselle.

As her modeling career waned, Ms. Smith began looking for other outlets. She sang in nightclubs and tried her hand at acting, without much success, although she would later take a role in the off-Broadway play “Love, Loss and What I Wore,” by Nora and Delia Ephron, which had a short run in 2011.

In the 1980s she worked as a hostess and floor manager at America, a large restaurant near Union Square Park operated by the Ark restaurant group. The management, impressed, agreed to help her start her own restaurant, and B. Smith’s, the restaurant, was born. After parting ways with Ark in 1999, she moved B. Smith’s from Eighth Avenue and 47th Street around the corner to 46th Street.

It was at her Manhattan restaurant that she met Mr. Gasby, a marketing executive who helped her develop her television show. Her first marriage, to the HBO executive Don Henderson, ended in divorce. Besides Mr. Gasby, survivors include her stepdaughter, Dana Gasby; and two brothers, Ronald and Dennis Smith.

Buoyed by the success of her restaurants, Ms. Smith wrote two books on home entertaining, “B. Smith’s Entertaining and Cooking for Friends” (1995) and “B. Smith’s Rituals and Celebrations” (1999). A cookbook followed, “B. Smith Cooks Southern Style” (2009).


In her late 50s she began showing the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. When it was formally diagnosed, Ms. Smith publicly announced that she was suffering from the disease. She had closed her Sag Harbor and Washington restaurants a year earlier, and in 2015 the original B. Smith’s closed.

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