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Shirley Smith papers

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Correspondence

Early Life and Personal

Acting Career

Art Career

Literary Works

Photographs

Printed Material

Digital Media

Oversize

Newspaper advertisements for Helzberg's Diamonds



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Shirley Smith papers, 1937-2011 | Morse Department of Special Collections

By Haley Claxton

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Collection Overview

Title: Shirley Smith papers, 1937-2011Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Smith, Shirley (1937-2011)

Extent: 9.0 Linear Feet

Arrangement:

Series 1 (Box 1) contains correspondence from throughout Smith’s life and career. Some of the most notable correspondents include actors Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Yul Brenner, Lee Falk, and Alan Cranston. Other correspondents include Nancy Landon Kassebaum, Robert Dole, and Gordon Parks. This series also contains correspondence with art museums, regarding exhibitions of Smith’s work.

Series 2 (Box 2) contains personal documents chronicling Smith’s early life in rural Kansas (focused on high school), as well as her time at Kansas State College. Additionally, this section contains early resumes outlining Smith’s acting and modeling careers.

Series 3 (Box 2) contains playbills and clippings regarding Smith’s career in theater and on television from 1954 to 1960. Some of the most noted performances included her breakthrough role in Picnic (1954) and The Golden Fleecing (1960).

Series 4 (Box 3) contains not only influences and inspirations for Smith’s artwork, but programs and notices regarding exhibitions of her art from the 1970s on into the late 2000s. This series concludes with resumes of her work related to art, especially highlighting the achievement award she received from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1991.

Series 5 (Box 4 through 6) contains Ms. Smith’s literary works. Box 4 holds her early writings at Whitewater High School, as well as other personal writing including personal and written statements and notes regarding her art. Additionally, the box contains Smith’s incredibly intimate poetry (most written in the late 1950s to late 1970s). Box 5 and 6 contain multiple drafts of Smith’s memoirs (entitled I’m Off to Catch the Sunset) which are separated into sections. Drafts of the section entitled “The Undertaker’s Daughter,” are contained in box 6.

Series 6 (Boxes 7 through 9) contain photographs taken throughout Smith’s life.  Box 7 contains photographs from Smith’s early life in Whitewater, Kansas and at Kansas State.  Following these are photographs from Smith’s modeling and acting career, including various head shots. Finally, photographs of Smith with her artwork and later in life complete box 7. Box 8 contains photographs of her art pieces, spanning nearly fifty years from the early 1960s to 2010. Finally, Box 9 contains art related to pigs (one of Smith’s most influential models for art).

Series 7 (Box 10) contains printed materials in three sections, “Musical Scores,” “Modeling Advertisements,” and “Art Exhibition Booklets.”

Series 8 (Box 11) includes digital media on 27 Disks of photographs and documents that span much of Smith’s career as an actress and, primarily, as an artist, as well as portions of an unpublished memoir, a DVD documentary called “A Pig’s Life,” and a retrospective DVD of photographs of Smith’s life and works.

Series 9 (Boxes 12 through 17 and one flat drawer case) include largest pieces of the collection. Box 12 contains 32 personal appointment and address books and 13 contains a substantial collection of slides of photographs taken in Kansas, as well as slides of later “figurative painting” farm- animal art pieces (ca 1980-2000s). Box 14 contains transparencies and slides of photographs of Kansas landscapes, pigs, and other farm animals taken in the 1980s and 90s, along with slides of earlier art work, including Smith’s “Lyrical Abstraction” Collection (1969-1972). Box 15 includes larger modeling photographs, while 16 includes art related media, including paint pallets and figure sketches. Box 17 includes items related to the  “Shirley Smith: A Retrospective” Exhibition at the Beach Museum of Art (1999), including a commemorative plaque, promotional pictures on foam core, pig photographs from the “I Love Pigs” installation, and an album of interviews with various individuals regarding pigs. Finally, the flat drawer case folder contains modeling advertisements for Helzberg Diamonds published in the Kansas City Star.

Date Acquired: 00/00/2014

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Shirley Smith Papers (1937-2011) include a wide array of varying fields and topics following the life and career of Shirley Smith. Growing up in rural Kansas and graduating from Kansas State College in 1951, Smith moved to New York City to begin her career as a model, then Broadway actress. In the early 1960s, Smith began to lose her hearing and focused her talents instead on an art career, which she continued for over 50 years. Much of her artwork hearkens back to Kansas roots, while other pieces are considered within the lyrical abstraction art movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The collection includes 17 boxes and one folder stored in a flat drawer case comprising 9 linear feet. It is divided into 9 series: 1) Correspondence; 2) Early Life and Personal; 3) Acting Career; 4) Art Career; 5) Literary Works; 6) Photographs; 7) Printed Materials; 8) Digital Media, and; 9) Oversize.

Biographical Note

The Shirley Smith Papers (1937-2011) contain a wide array of information regarding the unique life and career path, from rural Kansas to New York City, of Kansas State alumnus Shirley Smith. Smith’s papers are of importance not only as a record of personal history, but history within the modeling, art, and acting worlds as well. The collection includes a variety of formats into which most of the papers are organized according to series and subseries. Research strengths of the collection include regional and biographical history of Smith’s hometown, Whitewater, Kansas, as well as more substantial documentation of Smith’s career as a model, actress, and artist.

Shirley Smith was born in Whitewater, Kansas in 1929. By the time she  graduated high school in 1947, her career as a model was already beginning as she entered (and won) several beauty pageants in her hometown. Soon, she moved on to Kansas State College, becoming heavily involved in theater, and graduating in 1951.

After graduating, Smith began her modeling career by modeling in advertisements for Kansas City’s Helzberg Diamonds in 1952. Soon, Smith moved to New York to continue to model for several major lingerie companies, including Maidenform. Following her modeling career, Smith moved on to acting in shows on Broadway and soon took roles on television and in a movie as well. Several of her most notable appearances include a play entitled The Highest Tree, which also featured Robert Redford and Paul Newman, and a starring role in a 1956 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“Alibi Me”). Smith also appeared alongside Peter Falk in the motion picture film Pretty Boy Floyd.

In her early 30s, Smith began to suffer hearing loss and turned her focus toward her art career.  Beginning with collages and other forms of abstract art, Smith moved on to “lyrical abstraction,” a form of post-modern art, which included fabrics and various other mediums.  Later in her career, she returned to her roots, painting pastoral scenes of rural Kansas and farm animals, especially pigs. Smith spent several summers in a trailer studio outside of Whitewater, Kansas as inspiration for her work.

Administrative Information

Repository: Morse Department of Special Collections

Access Restrictions: No restrictions

Use Restrictions: The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Acquisition Source: Scott Smith, nephew

Acquisition Method: Donation

Preferred Citation: [Item title], [item date], The Shirley Smith Papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Processing Information: The collection was processed by student assistant and History major, Haley Claxton, in 2014


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Early Life and Personal],
[Series 3: Acting Career],
[Series 4: Art Career],
[Series 5: Literary Works],
[Series 6: Photographs],
[Series 7: Printed Material],
[Series 8: Digital Media],
[Series 9: Oversize],
[Drawer 6: Newspaper advertisements for Helzberg's Diamonds],
[All]

Series 6: PhotographsAdd to your cart.
Box 7Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 1: Whitewater/Kansas StateAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: Historical, ca 1880-1920sAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Early Life, ca 1937-1940Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Miss Butler County, 1947Add to your cart.
Folder 4: High School, 1946-1947Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Personal Photographs, ca 1948-1950sAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Kansas State, 1947-1951Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: ModelingAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Commercials, ca 1952-1954Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Lingerie Test Photos, ca 1952-1954Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Sheer Fabric, ca 1952-1954Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Face Cut-outs, ca 1952-1954Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Toothbrush, ca 1952-1954Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Dark Winter Outfits, ca 1952-1954Add to your cart.
Folder 13: White Turtleneck, ca 1952-1954Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Profiles, ca 1952-1954Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Striped Scarf, ca 1952--1954Add to your cart.
Folder 16: Various, ca 1952-1954Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 3: ActingAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: Portraits/ Headshots, ca 1952-1967Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Picnic, 1954Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 1956Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Eugenia, 1957Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Winkleberg, 1958Add to your cart.
Folder 22: The Highest Tree (ft. Robert Redford/ Paul Newman), 1959Add to your cart.
Folder 23: Pretty Boy Floyd, 1960Add to your cart.
Folder 24: To Live Again (Documentary), 1963Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 4: ArtAdd to your cart.
Folder 25: Early Art, ca 1965-1970Add to your cart.
Folder 26: SS Mercer Gallery “Lyrical Abstraction” Installation, 1973Add to your cart.
Folder 27: 60th Birthday Party (with Teamsters Art Class), 1989Add to your cart.
Folder 28: Teamsters Union Art Class, ndAdd to your cart.
Folder 29: Creating Art, ca 1990sAdd to your cart.
Folder 30: American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Opening, 1991Add to your cart.
Folder 31: Trailer Studio (from Wichita Eagle shoot), 1991Add to your cart.
Folder 32: Summer Studio, 1998Add to your cart.
Folder 33: Beach Museum “Retrospection” Installation, 1999Add to your cart.
Folder 34: Ulrich Museum Installation, 1999Add to your cart.
Folder 35: Smith with Artwork (Various), ca 1990sAdd to your cart.
Folder 36: Portraits, ca 1990-2000sAdd to your cart.
Folder 37: Gallery Openings (Various), 1970-2000sAdd to your cart.
Box 8Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 5: Art PiecesAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 1: 1960'sAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: Oil on Canvas (various), ca 1960sAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Collages (various), ca 1960sAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Black and White Women (ink, charcoal), ca 1963Add to your cart.
Folder 4: “Collage with Nylon Stockings” (mixed media), ca 1963Add to your cart.
Folder 5: “Vietnam I” (collage), 1965Add to your cart.
Folder 6: “Yellow Abstract” (collage), 1965Add to your cart.
Folder 7: “Canvas Collage #1” (collage), 1965Add to your cart.
Folder 8: “Red Sign” (oil, canvas), 1966Add to your cart.
Folder 9: “Childhood Memories” (collage), 1966Add to your cart.
Folder 10: “Criss Cross II” (collage), 1968Add to your cart.
Folder 11: “Greenspace” (acrylic, canvas), 1969Add to your cart.
Folder 12: “Girls’ Night Out” (ink, found paper), 1969Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: 1970'sAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: “Lyrical Abstraction” pieces (various), ca 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 14: “Corner Piece” (acrylic, muslin), 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 15: “Circles I” (spray paint, muslin), 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 16: “At Loose Ends” (acrylic, canvas), 1972Add to your cart.
Folder 17: “Collage Studies I, II, III” (mylar, muslin), 1976Add to your cart.
Folder 18: “Woven Center” (acrylic, muslin), 1978Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 3: 1980'sAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Landscapes (oil, canvas; various), ca 1979-1980sAdd to your cart.
Folder 20: Cows on Tracks (oil, canvas), ca 1980sAdd to your cart.
Folder 21: “Three Goats” (oil, canvas), ca 1980sAdd to your cart.
Folder 22: Farm Animals (oil canvas; various), ca 1980sAdd to your cart.
Folder 23: “Outside of Town” (oil, canvas), ca 1980sAdd to your cart.
Folder 24: “Flock of Sheep” (oil, canvas), 1983Add to your cart.
Folder 25: “Sheep in Snow” (oil, canvas), 1983Add to your cart.
Folder 26: “Hot Lips” (oil, canvas), 1983Add to your cart.
Folder 27: “Windmill Pasture” (oil, canvas), 1983Add to your cart.
Folder 28: “Side Road” (oil, canvas), 1983Add to your cart.
Folder 29: “NE of Wichita, 1984” (oil, canvas), 1984Add to your cart.
Folder 30: “White Kansas Turkeys” (oil, canvas), 1984Add to your cart.
Folder 31: “Empty Swing” (oil, canvas), 1985Add to your cart.
Folder 32: “Kansas Gate Posts” (oil, canvas), 1985Add to your cart.
Folder 33: Landscapes (wire), ca 1989Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 4: 1990'sAdd to your cart.
Folder 34: “Nightscape” (oil, canvas), 1990Add to your cart.
Folder 35: “Lyrical Abstraction” pieces in “Retrospective” at Beach Museum, 1999Add to your cart.
Folder 36: “Retrospective” Promotional Photos, 1999Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 5: 2000'sAdd to your cart.
Folder 37: “Ancient Addresses” (found metal on wood), 2007-2009Add to your cart.
Folder 38: Found Object Collages (various), ca 2009-2010Add to your cart.
Folder 39: “Playful Circles I, II, III, IV” (found objects), 2009-2010Add to your cart.
Folder 40: “Lost Moon” (sandpaper/ paper, cardboard), 2010Add to your cart.
Folder 41: “Summer” (paper, vellum), 2010Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 6: UndatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 42: Woman with Cup, ndAdd to your cart.
Folder 43: Birds (ink, paper), ndAdd to your cart.
Folder 44: “My Kansas” Journal and Drawings, ndAdd to your cart.
Box 9Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 5: Art PiecesAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 7: PigsAdd to your cart.
Folder 1: “Two Kansas Pigs” (oil, canvas), 1984Add to your cart.
Folder 2: “Pigs in Backyard” (oil, canvas), 1985Add to your cart.
Folder 3: “Playful Pigs” (oil, canvas), 1985Add to your cart.
Folder 4: “Three Kansas Pigs” (oil, canvas), 1986Add to your cart.
Folder 5: “Family” (oil, canvas), 1990Add to your cart.
Folder 6: “Pig Drawing” (charcoal, paper), 1994Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Pig Sketches (pencil, paper), 1998Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Wire Pigs, 1998Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Live Pigs, 1998Add to your cart.
Folder 10: “I Love Pigs” Installation Instructions, 1999Add to your cart.
Folder 11: “I Love Pigs” Installation Floor Plans, 1999Add to your cart.
Folder 12: “I Love Pigs” Installation in “Retrospective” Opening at Beach Museum, 1999Add to your cart.
Folder 13: “Last Day on Earth- Life of a Pig” prints (from film), ca 2000sAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Black and White “Pig Head #1” and “Dwight Pig,” ca 2001Add to your cart.
Folder 15: “Pig Head #1” (ink, paper), 2001Add to your cart.
Folder 16: “Dwight Pig” (ink, paper), 2001Add to your cart.
Folder 17: “Big Pig” (ink, acetate board), 2005Add to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Correspondence],
[Series 2: Early Life and Personal],
[Series 3: Acting Career],
[Series 4: Art Career],
[Series 5: Literary Works],
[Series 6: Photographs],
[Series 7: Printed Material],
[Series 8: Digital Media],
[Series 9: Oversize],
[Drawer 6: Newspaper advertisements for Helzberg's Diamonds],
[All]


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