B. Smith, model-turned-TV host and lifestyle guru

B. Smith, model-turned-TV host and lifestyle guru

Barbara “B.” Smith, a steelworker’s daughter who turned one of many high black fashions on journal covers within the 1970s and later parlayed her glamour and persona into ventures as a restaurateur, TV host and lifestyle maven, died Feb. 22 at her residence in East Hampton, N.Y. She was 70.

Her dying was introduced in an announcement by her household. Ms. Smith was recognized in 2013 with early-onset Alzheimer’s illness, and closed her eating places — in Manhattan, on Long Island and at Union Station in Washington — over the subsequent two years. She went on to champion Alzheimer’s analysis together with her husband and caretaker, Dan Gasby, with whom she revealed a 2016 guide, “Before I Forget.”

B. Smith

Ms. Smith — she shortened her first title to the preliminary “B.” throughout her modeling profession — was broadly thought to be a number one African American entrepreneur in fields that had lengthy been unwelcoming to minorities

She wrote books, began {a magazine} and had a syndicated TV present, all targeted on leisure and hostessing. Although her audiences transcended race, she usually was described as a “black Martha Stewart.” Ms. Smith mentioned she discovered the comparability “a little tired.”

“Martha Stewart has presented herself doing the things domestics and African Americans have done for years,” she as soon as informed New York journal. “We were always expected to redo the chairs and use everything in the garden. This is the legacy that I was left. Martha just got there first.”

In her youth, Ms. Smith loved cooking and stitching however felt undesirable at the 4-H membership in her hometown in western Pennsylvania. To fulfill her budding pursuits, she as soon as mentioned, she based a house economics membership and named herself president.

After starting her modeling profession in Pittsburgh, Ms. Smith signed with the distinguished Wilhelmina company in New York. In 1976, she turned one of many first black fashions to seem on the entrance of Mademoiselle journal.

That cowl, alongside together with her frequent appearances in publications equivalent to Ebony and Essence, launched a modeling profession that took her to trend capitals equivalent to Paris and Milan — and to these cities’ high eating places. Later, she tried to breed their menus at residence for buddies within the runway set.

Ms. Smith’s subsequent makes an attempt at a pop-singing profession fizzled, though to her credit score as a tastemaker she employed the longer term soul star Freddie Jackson as a backup singer. She additionally tried to interrupt into appearing however discovered, she informed New York journal, that black actors have been employed solely to “play junkies or prostitutes or people who are left by junkies or prostitutes.”

Calling on her longtime ardour for meals, she turned concerned within the hospitality trade and labored her method into administration at Ark Restaurants Corp. Partnering with that firm, she opened her eponymous bistro in New York’s theater district in 1986.

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A second B. Smith restaurant opened in Union Station in 1994; one critic referred to as it “the grandest dining room on the Hill and maybe in the city.” Another adopted in upscale Sag Harbor, N.Y., in 1998. Her delicacies usually was described as high-end soul meals. Some restaurant critics discovered that the institutions emphasised fashionable decor over consistency within the kitchen, however they turned fashionable social gatherings spots favored particularly by black professionals.

“These were restaurants where you could say, we’re now investment bankers and lawyers and partners in consulting firms,” Lawrence Otis Graham, the creator of “Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class,” informed The Washington Post in a 2014 interview.

“You couldn’t bring clients and people you were trying to do business with to the old-fashioned mom and pop soul food restaurants that existed before her restaurants,” he continued. “She brought sort of a high-end polish to the soul food restaurant business.”

Ms. Smith’s enterprise relationship with Ark Restaurants later soured, and she and her second husband, Gasby, ultimately purchased out their associate.

Her first guide, “B. Smith’s Entertaining and Cooking for Friends” (1995), included plans for a cocktail occasion, a romantic Valentine’s Day meal, a seaside picnic, a chic soiree and a Kwanzaa-Christmas buffet.

Later volumes included “Rituals and Celebrations” (1999) and “B. Smith Cooks Southern-Style” (2009). Recipes included the strange (macaroni and cheese) and the connoisseur (alligator-stuffed eggplant). “I’m not a chef,” she informed The Post. “I’m a cook.”

In the 1990s, Ms. Smith launched the tv present “B. Smith With Style,” which she hosted and which was syndicated by Hearst Entertainment, and the journal B. Smith Style. Her lifestyle empire got here to incorporate a furnishings line and a set at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

“I felt we needed ideas that address a new generation,” she as soon as wrote, “one too busy and creative for staid staples such as expensive caterers or gold-leaf calligraphy.”

Barbara Elaine Smith was born in Everson, Pa., on Aug. 24, 1949. Her father was a steelworker, and her mom, whom she credited with serving to educate her to be a hostess, was a maid.

Ms. Smith mentioned that she persuaded her father to permit her to enroll within the John Robert Powers modeling program solely after she described it as a ending college. One of her first jobs was as a floor hostess for Trans World Airlines at Pittsburgh International Airport.

As an aspiring mannequin, she endured frequent rejections earlier than being chosen in 1969 for the Ebony Fashion Fair, a touring trend present, earlier than signing with the Wilhelmina company.

Her first marriage, to Donald Anderson, resulted in divorce. Survivors embrace Gasby, whom she married in 1992, and a stepdaughter, Dana, each of East Hampton; and two brothers.

As Ms. Smith’s well being and reminiscence deteriorated lately, her husband started courting once more, angering a few of Ms. Smith’s followers whilst he continued caring for her at residence. Gasby informed The Post final 12 months that he had launched his girlfriend to Ms. Smith, though it was unclear if she understood the character of their relationship. “If ‘This Is Us’ and ‘Modern Family’ came together, it would be us,” he mentioned.

Ms. Smith was a spokeswoman for numerous tub, cooking and kitchen merchandise and, in 2011, appeared in “Love, Loss and What I Wore,” an off-Broadway play written by sisters Nora and Delia Ephron based mostly on a guide by Ilene Beckerman in regards to the place of trend in ladies’s lives.

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