If you were a girl anywhere between the ages of 10 and 17 in 1979, you were probably familiar with the TV movie, “Sooner or Later” and its swoonworthy male star, Rex Smith. The subject matter was pretty scandalous for its time, telling the story of a romance between 13-year-old Jessie and her 17-year-old guitar teacher, Michael. Four years isn’t a huge age gap when you’re talking about 30 and 34, but the difference between 13 and 17 is pretty huge, if you ask me. In all fairness, if I remember correctly, she lied about her age. Anyway, all the girls I knew wanted to be Jessie, especially since he wrote a sweet little song for her called Simply Jessie. Be still my 13-year-old self’s heart! Then again, maybe it’s just his hair that makes my heart beat a little faster. I mean, just look at it! I probably wished my hair looked that good. It’s so curly and bouncy!
I re-watched the movie a couple of years ago with a friend of mine and we were alternately amused and shocked at what we saw. I mean, the fashion choices alone could inspire a whole separate post!
He has a very distinctive vocal style and in at least one of the videos I watched I could actually see him moving his lower jaw sideways during a performance of “Take My Breath Away”. I always thought it sounded like that was what he was doing and now I have visual proof. Despite the weird jaw thing and the pervasive vibrato, he had a decent amount of talent and was (still is) easy on the eyes. I wonder why he wasn’t more well known.
Mr. Smith released a few albums over the years, but my favorite was the one with the Sooner or Later songs on it. He went on to appear in “The Pirates of Penzance” on Broadway (opposite Linda Ronstadt) and later on “As the World Turns” as Darryl Crawford where he started out as a good guy and ended up a bad guy. That kind of hurt my feelings but I still watched religiously. Apparently he was also in a TV show called Streethawk, which was not on my radar, and hosted Solid Gold, which I did remember. I also recently learned that he appeared on “The Love Boat”. I can’t believe I didn’t know that already! If he looks familiar it’s probably because you’ve seen him on one of the myriad of TV appearances he’s done, or maybe the Broadway shows. He’s been a pretty busy guy!
If you want a giggle or two (or maybe you’d like to swoon like the 13 year old you once were), you can watch the movie on YouTube in 15-minute chunks. It’s like a trip back in time!