David L. Smith is the author of a 2006 book, Hoosiers in Hollywood, published by the IHS Press, and a 2011 book, Sitting Pretty: The Life and Times of Clifton Webb. The wealth of materials he used in his research are cataloged in the David L. Smith Collection. These materials include photographs, lobby cards, movie posters, books, periodicals, ephemera and research notes pertaining to Indiana-related actors, directors, screenwriters, novelists, musicians and composers, and people who worked behind the scenes in movies and/or television.
Some of the earliest materials in the collection pertain to silent film stars such as Monte Blue of Indianapolis, John Bowers from Garrett, Edna Goodrich of Logansport, and Alice Terry, who was born near Vincennes. Indianapolis native Clifton Webb, Carole Lombard of Fort Wayne and Vincennes native Buck Jones make frequent appearances in this star-studded collection.
A series of Hoosier movie cowboys includes Buck Jones, Vevay-born brothers Ken and Kermit Maynard, Allan “Rocky” Lane of Mishawaka, and Johnson County native Max Terhune. Three Hoosiers have played movie Tarzans: Elmo Lincoln from Rochester starred in the first Tarzan film, Tarzan of the Apes, in 1918; James Pierce of Franklin starred in the last silent Tarzan film, Tarzan and the Golden Lion, in 1927; and Denny Miller of Bloomington played Tarzan, the Ape Man in 1959.
David L. Smith is professor emeritus of telecommunications at Ball State University, where he taught for 23 years. He was the host of a series called “When Movies Were Movies” on WISH-TV in Indianapolis from 1971 to 1981, and served as program manager for the station for 20 years. He was inducted into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2005.