Earlier this week the trailblazing B. Smith, lifestyle entrepreneur, restaurant owner, TV personality, and former model died after a yearlong struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
The news of her departure arrived via Facebook, where her husband, Dan Gasby, announced to her fans and friends her passing. “Heaven is shining even brighter now that it is graced with B.'s dazzling and unforgettable smile,” he wrote. Her full name was Barbara Elaine Smith.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Smith caught her break as a model in the 1960s when she signed with Wilhelmina models in New York City. She garnered fame and recognition in 1976 when she appeared as the one of the first black women on the cover of Mademoiselle magazine.
As her influence grew, Smith expanded into other areas of interests. First, restaurants, with her eponymous line of Manhattan eateries; then, cookbooks, a lifestyle magazine, a line of kitchen and home products, and a weekly television show, B. Smith With Style. The syndicated half-hour show featured segments on home decor and cooking.
Her command over both the culinary and domestic arts led some to deem Smith the “black Martha Stewart,” an epithet she railed against. Smith told New York magazine in a 1997 interview: "Martha Stewart has presented herself doing the things domestics and African Americans have done for years...We were always expected to redo the chairs and use everything in the garden. This is the legacy that I was left. Martha just got there first."