“There was a freshness about her. Even though she aged, her mind was young and she had sort of a young approach,” Saradjian said. “She spoke what was on her mind, she didn’t pussyfoot. She treated everyone naturally. I just adored her.”
Despite a 20-year age difference, Mary Leary said she and Smith became the best of friends,
“She was full of life and just so normal,” Leary, a former library trustee, said. “Her favorite saying was, keep calm and carry on, from Winston Churchill. ... It was pretty special to have known her.”
Friends said Smith didn’t openly tout her stature among Hollywood’s elite, but invariably, tidbits would leak out.
Michelle Fino, founder of the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival, recalled the day Smith approached her with an offer to assist with the annual event.
“I thought she was a nice lady who wanted to help out. Then I started getting to know her and to hear these tidbits,” said Fino, who accompanied her on several trips to New York to attend shows and screenings. “The thing with Lois was you’d go out to lunch with her and she’d talk about the family, about raising money for the library, mention Meryl Streep had called and that she had to get her hair cut. It was that matter of fact. She was very low-key. She was just that normal.”
Perhaps one of Smith’s greatest credits is the discovery of Redford, a veritable unknown when Smith met him. But Smith saw a star quotient in Redford and, Lojek said, fought to have the industry take notice.
The two remained lifelong friends, and Redford would occasionally visit Plum Island on his yacht and the two would dine on steamers. “He felt a real kinship with her,” Lojek said.