Barbara Elaine Smith was born August 24, 1949. She is a native of Pennsylvania and began her career as a fashion model, gracing the covers of 15 magazines and becoming the first African-American woman on Mademoiselle’s cover in July 1976. In addition to TV commercials for Mercedes-Benz, she has served as a spokesperson for Verizon, Colgate Palmolive Oxy and McCormick’s Lawry seasonings products.
Smith has authored three home entertaining books: B. Smith’s Entertaining and Cooking for Friends (Artisan Press), the first tabletop entertainment and lifestyle book by an African American; B. Smith: Rituals and Celebration (Random House), a James Beard Foundation Award nominee, one of Food & Wine magazine’s best cookbooks of 1999 and an American Library Association Black Caucus Literary Award winner; and B. Smith Cooks Southern-Style (Simon and Schuster), with 200 recipes and flavorful tips for reducing calories. Her last book, with husband Dan Gasby and Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Shnayerson, is the story of her fight with Alzheimer’s.Before I Forget (Harmony Books) .
Smith, died of complications from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, on February 22, 2020, at her home on Long Island.