Barbara “B.” Smith, one of the top African-American models on magazine covers during the 1970s who later parlayed her fame into a career as a restaurateur, died Saturday, her family said. She was 70.
Smith died at her home in East Hampton, New York, after battling Alzheimer's disease, The Washington Post reported. Her death was announced in a statement by her family on social media. Smith was diagnosed in 2013 with Alzheimer's disease and closed her restaurants at Washington's Union Station and in Sag Harbor, New York, in 2014.
Smith, who shortened her first name to the initial "B." during her modeling career, was regarded as a leading African-American entrepreneur, the Post reported.
Smith's popular Manhattan restaurant, B. Smith, was located at the edge of New York City's theater district, The New York Times reported.
She opened a second restaurant in Washington in 1994 and added another restaurant in Sag Harbor four years later, the newspaper reported.
In 1995, Essence magazine described the restaurant as a place “where the who’s who of black Manhattan meet, greet and eat regularly.”
Smith wrote books, founded her own magazine and hosted a syndicated cooking and home decor television show, "B. Smith With Style," the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
B. Smith, model turned restaurateur and lifestyle maven, dies at 70 https://t.co/LUj8AxRsf3— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 23, 2020
She launched her own home collection at Bed Bath and Beyond in 2001 and wrote three home entertaining books, the newspaper reported.
Smith's battle with Alzheimer's was the subject of her 2016 book, "Before I Forget," co-written with her husband and Michael Shnayerson, the Sun-Times reported.
Although Smith’s audiences transcended race, she was often described as “the black Martha Stewart,” a comparison she said was “a little tired.”
“Martha Stewart has presented herself doing the things domestics and African Americans have done for years,” Smith told New York magazine. “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.”
We lost legendary fashion model, chef, restaurateur, lifestyle icon and magazine publisher, B Smith today. 70 years old, she and her husband, Dan Gasby were at the forefront of #alzheimers #research for people of color. Love to them and daughter, Dana. #bsmithwithstyle pic.twitter.com/pqFOpa9oxs— Al Roker (@alroker) February 23, 2020
About the Author