Before Nancy Smith was known for her public relations and antique appraisal work in Preston Hollow, she was a journalist covering some of the biggest openings in Dallas.
Smith started out writing obituaries and taking any other assignments she could grab. Eventually, during her long career as a columnist at the Dallas Morning News, she got to interview everyone from Nancy Reagan to Willie Mayes. She would be interviewing Cary Grant at the Dallas Club one day and receive an invitation from Frank Sinatra to the 1985 Reagan inauguration the next.
Last December, she released a book about Dallas’s glamorous past and all the famous faces that visited the city in the ‘80s.
Dallas Celebrity in the Glamorous 1980s Era of Ronald and Nancy Reagan details the years between 1978 and 1984 when Dallas was flourishing with prosperity and creativity, she says. During that time, Smith covered the openings of the Galleria, the Dallas Museum of Art’s move to Downtown, and the Dallas Arboretum. She wrote about the visits of Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth, and Princess Margaret.
“There was just so much creativity and spunk and effort and money being poured into making Dallas the very best city that we could ever envision. It was like paradise,” said Smith.
She remembers that, on any given day, you could find Roy Orbison, Tina Turner, Ella Fitzgerald, or Bob Hope lounging in one of Dallas’s most luxurious clubs or hotels. Smith wants her book to capture the dreamlike quality of living in such a city and bumping elbows with such renowned figures.
“There was such an inspirational feeling during the Reagan years. It was like there was nothing in the world that we could not do. He was connected with Hollywood and all the celebrities and Dallas really identified with that. There was not a single living Hollywood star that did not come to Dallas during those years. People in Dallas still pinch themselves,” she said.
Smith was born and raised in Dallas and attended SMU, so she feels like this is where she belongs.
“I would never consider moving anywhere else, because I feel like my total identity is connected to Dallas,” said Smith.
The Fairmont Hotel will put Smith’s book in a time capsule, which will be buried under the stage in its Venetian Room. Smith is set to do a book signing in the same location. The dates for these events are yet to be determined.