Pete Smith began his career, humbly, as an aide on the vaudeville circuit. He soon found work with Louis B. Mayer as a publicity manager for Mayer’s studio. He was promoted to doing voice overs and editing on short subjects and sports-related newsreels. Based on his sense of humor, Pete was given his own series at MGM Studios. He narrated the Pete Smith Presents series, putting on a high-pitched nasal voice that became very familiar to the movie-going public. His shorts, some featuring animal actors, became popular and Pete was able to produce a series of nine-minute films he dubbed “Goofy Movies.”
Pete worked closely with actor-stuntman Dave O’Brien and his wife Dorothy Short. O’Brien became so familiar with Pete’s style that, after a while, he was able to fill in and mimic the style, allowing for the production of more films. Over the course of his career, Pete produced and narrated over 150 film projects and earned fourteen Academy Award nominations. He was given an honorary Oscar at the 26th annual event.
Pete suffered from poor health in his later years. He was admitted to a convalescent home in Santa Monica, California. On January 12, 1979, Pete climbed the stairs to the roof of the facility and jumped to his death. He was 86.