Friday, September 20, 2019

The Legend of Packy Smith

The name Packy Smith might not be ringing a bell with many reading this but you would certainly recognize his contributions to the preservation of motion-pictures and music. An early interest led to a lifelong career collecting, selling, and analyzing cowboy movies and western music. He authored numerous scholarly articles; wrote, co-wrote, produced, and edited books including Hopalong Cassidy and 30 Years on the Road with Gene Autry; and launched Riverwood Press, publishing the work of others in the field.
Packy co-founded the Western Film Festival (during an era when fan gatherings and conventions were almost unheard of for that genre) and more recently the Lone Pine Film Festival, where he was instrumental in obtaining guests and procuring rare movies shown at events over the last three decades. He served on the board of directors of the Museum of Western Film History, also in Lone Pine, and co-produced a season of the Roy Rogers “Happy Trails Theatre” television show for the Nashville Network.
So you can imagine how heart broken I was to learn earlier this year that Packy Smith passed away from cancer. Rather than grieve over the loss, I felt it fitting to acknowledge his accomplishments.
Packy Smith receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award
from Bill Sasser at the Williamsburg Film Festival in 2008,

Literally hundreds of commercial LP records, CDs, VHS and DVD releases were produced courtesy of Packy’s generosity, who sought out and preserved kinescopes and recording masters.
Packy’s enthusiasm for the Western—not only in films but in art, books, and music—was unlimited, and it informed just about everything he did professionally for many years. Packy not only loved Westerns; he loved people who love Westerns, and he happily shared his enthusiasm with family members young and old. His passing leaves behind a veritable legion of heartbroken friends and colleagues, who remember his dry sense of humor, boundless curiosity, and big heart. He will be missed more than we can possibly say.