William J. Smart

(1893 – 1962)

Smart started as a teenage “paint boy” and was a scenic artist at Sosman & Landis; he worked there from approximately 1908 to 1921. In the 1920s, he joined four other former Sosman & Landis employees to establish Service Studios in Chicago. He moved to Detroit to work on Norman Bel Geddes’s Futurama, part of General Motors Highways and Horizons exhibition in the 1939–40 World’s Fair in New York, and moved to Los Angeles shortly after. Smart was an integral member of Gibson’s MGM scenic art studio, which relied on his expertise in perspective. In the early 1950s, he left MGM to work with John H. Coakley at 20th Century Fox until the end of his life. Film credits include The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), The Robe (1953), and Cleopatra (1963).


Richard M., Maness, Karen L. 2016. The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, ReganArts., Waszut-Barrett, Wendy. 2021. Sosman & Landis: Shaping the Landscape of American Theatre. Employee No. 46 – William Smart, Oct 30.

William Joseph Smart at MGM 1946

William Joseph Smart at MGM 1946

Jean Gibson Collection