Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith was sort of the ultimate girl next door who usually got mixed-up in bad circumstances. She played the role often in films and sadly it was one she would also play in life.  Early in the morning on Friday October 25th of 2002 the 47-year-old the winsome soul of 70s exploitative cinema died from complications due to hepatitis. She had contracted the liver disorder during her prolonged bouts with heroin addiction. Twice she served time in prison for drug related offenses and was quite well regarded during her incarceration for the intricate tattoo designs she made for fellow prisoners.She was sometimes homeless -- often panhandling, shoplifting, hooking, and doing whatever she needed to survive while living in Los Angeles’ McArthur Park. It was such a harsh life for one who always appeared so fragile on screen.

Born in 1955, Cheryl grew up fast. She lived with her mother just south of Sunset and east of La Brea coming of age literally on The Sunset Strip. At a young age she frequented the area clubs and reportedly even adopted her “Rainbeaux” moniker from her affinity for The Rainbow Room. She gravitated towards the music scene and was featured as a drummer in several bands including Joan Jett.

Somewhere along the line she started acting in movies. It began at age 15 with an uncredited part in ‘Evel Kneival’ with George Hamilton and Sue Lyon. Her first major role was the title part in the 1972 horror flick ‘Lemora, Lady Dracula’. A multitude of roles followed which almost read as a roster in how to be a low-budget cult star…She was Heather in ‘Revenge of the Cheerleaders’ (in which she did nude scenes while pregnant!), Andrea in ‘The Swinging Cheerleaders’, Roxanne in ‘The Pom Pom Girls’, Kathy Farley in ‘Laserblast’, Mary in ‘Massacre at Central High’, Lavelle in Jonathan Demme’s classic women’s prison opus ‘Caged Heat’, Sherry in ‘Slumber Party ‘57’ (with Debra Winger in her film debut), Sophie Maxwell in ‘Drum’ (the even more exploitative sequel to the profoundly exploitative ‘Mandingo’). She played ‘Cinderella’ in the 1977 soft-core classic. She joined Cheech & Chong in both ‘Nice Dreams’ and ‘Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie’. Her additional films include ‘The Incredible Melting Man’ (1977), the 1982 3-D thriller ‘Parasite’ featuring a very young Demi Moore, ‘Phantom of the Paradise’, ‘Vice Squad’, ‘Fantasm Comes Again’, etc.

She was wonderful and she will be missed. It’s a very sad end to a wonderful and incandescent screen presence. Cheryl Smith died without fanfare and was laid to rest at Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, CA.