| “What Pam Grier was to Blaxploitation movies, what Bruce Lee was to Kung
Fu movies, what Burt Reynolds was to Good Ol' Boy movies, Rainbeaux Smith
was to Cheerleader movies. She is a very unique presence in movies. She truly
has, without trying whatsoever, a Marilyn Monroe quality. She doesn't look like
Marilyn Monroe at all, she just has that kind of vacantness. She's not so much
acting as she is existing. Imagine Marilyn Monroe as kind of a '70s hippie junky
then you kind of have Rainbeaux Smith.” - Quentin Tarantino on Rainbeaux Smith
Cheryl Smith aka “Rainbeaux Smith” seemed almost too good to be true. Or
rather she had the kind of smile that made you hope that good things would
happen to her.
She was born in Los Angeles on June 6th, 1957. There is some controversy
regarding her actual date of birth, as she pretended to be two years older in order
to gain roles through the Screen Actors Guild without having to deal with their
regulations regarding minors.
Cheryl came from a show business family. Her mother Jayne was a Vaudeville
dancer who would later became a ballet teacher in the Los Angeles area. Her
parents were advanced in age when she was born, her mother was in her early
40s while her father was nearing fifty. Her parents would divorce and Cheryl would
go to live with her mother near the Sunset Strip when she turned seven years old.
She took to the arts immediately, showing an artist's eye with her many
drawings and singing ability. According to writer Chris Barbour, more than a few
people who got to know Rainbeaux during her younger years described as a “child
woman,” “mystical,” “an old soul,” “motherly,” and “more aware or evolved than
She was still in junior high school when the mother of a friend suggested her
for a role in Leland Auslender's short film The Birth of Aphrodite. An experimental
film, Cheryl was nude throughout the short which was shown at the Cannes Film
Cheryl would then go onto to get supporting roles in B-movies like Caged
Heat, Phantom of the Paradise, The Swinging Cheerleaders, Revenge of the
Cheerleaders, The Pom Po Girls, The Incredible Melting Man, Laserblast as well as a
small role in Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke.
Cheryl would be chosen from over 200 actresses to play the lead role in
Lemora – A Child's Tale of the Supernatural. She would acquire the nickname
“Rainbeaux” from a combination of the clothes she wore and the fact that she had
such a colorful personality. She had already begun to experiment with recreational
drugs yet it did not hinder her acting abilities just yet.
Most everyone who worked with her knew that she was something special.
She would play her roles by not “playing” them at all. She had a natural instinct for
what the role needed and as writer Barbour noted on one of her performances
“she doesn't hit a false note in the entire film as she handles movement, music,
comedy, full nudity and pathos with equal aplomb.”
The following is some of her written correspondence to Bill George as she
discusses her films.
REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS: This is my absolute favorite of it's kind.
Actually the other one's I'd personally like to forget. And if ever I become a
millionaire--there will be a couple of the other ones (we know which!) missing off
the shelves forever! Ha. REVENGE is a unique, musical comedy. To get the
record straight: The guys--Richard Lerner, great guy. Did the original film (I'm not
in it) X rated THE CHEERLEADERS. He did it for 1 reason, $. Which he made &
used for his real love REVENGE. This was his joy. I must tell you about the
casting. While doing my unfavorite of all times STAND UP & HOLLER I get a call
from my agent. After the days shooting I'm to go on this interview. I find out its
about CHEERLEADERS. Shit. "You want to see a cheer? I know a bunch!" I say,
while I'm thinking this must be what I get for staying out of school to become a
working actress. Several days after my appointment, not quite, finished w/ the
other picture. I discover I'm pregnate w/ my 1st son, to my 1st husband, ('till this
day the last). Anyway when I get called back to see Lerner again, I find his more
than serious about me for his film. So I told him of my condition. He was very
saddened. I was shocked when my agent called & said they wanted to see me
again. Honestly, I couldn't understand why. I went on [word illegible]. Boy was I in
for a shocker...Lerner had discussed w/ his partnerrs & writers & decided to write
in a pregnate cheerleader! They thought it would be funny--& as it turned out it
was a crazy twist. They tried to get a zebra as a mascot & have me ride it, until I
told they weren't timable. I worked up until my 9th month w/ an excellent group
of gals. Here are these beautiful girls w/ all this energy & me waddelin 'round like a
fat duck. One day actually we're doing a night shoot in a giant, closed furniture
mall. We're in overtime. The dir. is goin nuts & want to rap the entire thing. He
wasn't in the best of moods thats for certain. With our budget overtime wasn't
his favorite time! We were, us cheerleader's, in a good mood. The more the dir.
yelled, the more outta hand we became & for the life of us couldn't stop laughing.
"Shut up!" Lerner yelled. "Now when I say action I want you girls to run down this
hallway after the guard as fast as you can!" Then "action!" And we were off runnin
as fast as we could. I'm waddling down the way & start to laugh, back to the
camera. "Wait! wait you guys, You guys..." 10 feet ahead of me, "please! wait up."
Finally I'm laughing so hard i fall to the ground! The girls turn around & see me
way back there & they point at me, look at each other, unable to speak. I'm
hysterical laughter, fall down on their knees as well. Lerner goes "Thats a take!"
Laughing. "Print it!"
FAREWELL MY LOVELY: Directed by Dick Richards. Casting here was fun for me.
As I mentioned earlier auditions are of great importance to me. Before I go I
always try & find out as much about the film & character as possible. The more
insight I have the more similarities I can portray. In actions & dress. If I can't
dress accordingly, as the character, I always dress conservitively, perhaps a stylish
suit. Anyway for my audition w/ Richards, for some reason I dressed very
differently. A multi-coloured dancing skirt, brimmed w/ silver brocade w/ lacy
stocking about my ankels & a beautifully hand carved sterling silver belt w/ an
angel on it's large buckel. A silverish silk shirt w/ ruffels & silver jewelery &
bangels. This is the way i liked to dress on the streets, & for going out--But I'd
out done myself this time. I walked into his dim lit office. He said, "Stop...turn
around, walk this way & that" and then said, "You have the look I want I can't
believe it, it's magic! Do you always dress like that?" My hair in curls, which to was
a rareity, said Now & then." He said your hired--you've got the part if you want
it." It was fantastic working w/ Robert Mitchum. All the sets & set decorations
were so real, I felt like i'd jumped into a time machine or for certain was
dreaming. Little did I know my gangster boyfriend, who saves my life in the
picture was or is the bigger than life Sylvester Stallone. What a sweetheart of a
gentleman he was. Always positive & driven towards his future glory. He always
showed he had what it took. Stamina to the hilt. I always felt the 2 of us would
make it. He was terrific.
CINDERELLA: CINDERELLA's a zany musical comedy. Directed by M. Pataki an
amazingly great actor himself. It was something else to work with him. He could
get me to do things most dir. couldn't. Seeing so much of his earlier work, I had
mucho respect & trusted him all the way. Pataki's extremely creative & had more
energy than a tornado! It's him, when casting said, "She's the one...Cinders."
My interview was a riot. Serious actors know all to well 95% of acting work is
looking for it. I've gone on literally hundreds of thousands of interviews. Never a
moment late on a single one. This is of extreme importance. Who would hire
someone who wasn't prompt? All the $ spent on everything involved in films. Time
is exactly money. Who can afford an unreliable actor? Anyway for the first and last
time, waiting to be seen for "Cin." This was a cattle call if ever I'd seen one! Tons
of females crowded in this little office. The air was extremely stuffy & I actually fell
asleep waiting for my name to be called. They would never let me live it down
Always joking how enthused I was to get the part! Jim Globus did all the stills &
promo work. He's a fabulous photographer. Shot pictures all day long. Between
himself & Brandon Chase (the Producer) I was plastered in many magazines. Here
and Europe. At first I was leary about doing a film w/ so much nudity. I did need
work & I felt I needed a leading role. After reading the script--I reailized it if were
to be an X it would probibly be the softest ever made. I found the script very
funny & as light as a feather. So when I landed it i rode it through. I enjoyed
working for my Italian friends the Bands. And worked for them again--starring in
"Laserblast" and "Parasite" We've had discussions on ideas of my own for films
and parts I personally would care to do. Hopefully in the future these things will
come about. I love adventures, travel, comedy as well as Westerns (actually films
about the west!). Cowgirl movies & rock-n-roll!
Cheryl was also a musician. She performed with The Runaways when they
were filming We're All Crazy Now but the group dissolved after Sandy West and
Lita Ford quit.
Cheryl continued to play the drums for the group, however, as Joan Jett
stepped in to replace Ford.
She would become lead singer and drummer of a bad called the L.A Girls.
Later, she would pose for Penthouse.
In 1976, she would give birth to her only son but shortly thereafter fall in
with the wrong crowd. Her drug abuse would escalate into into full blown heroin
She would disappear from Hollywood by the age of twenty-six and would
later be sent to jail. She would use her artistic talent in prison, however, staying
out of trouble by designing elaborate tattoos for other inmates.
Cheryl would be released only to end up living on the streets. By her mid-
thirties, her mother had died and this sent her into a deeper depression. She
would be jailed again and would spend the rest of her live in and out of shelters,
halfway houses and a cold garage that her father owned to store inventory for his
furniture business. Rainbeaux would then turn to occasional prostitution in order
to fund her heroin addiction until succumbing to liver disease and hepatitis at the
age of forty-five.