Who is Melissa Yandell Smith's husband? 'Nomadland' star dies of cancer at 64

The theatre veteran died from cancer at 64 surrounded by friends and family. She was married to 'The Big Lebowski' actor Warren Keith


                            Who is Melissa Yandell Smith's husband? 'Nomadland' star dies of cancer at 64
Melissa Yandell Smith (Legacy.com) had been married to 'The Big Lebowski' star Warren Keith (IMDb)

'Nomadland' actor Melissa Yandell Smith died from cancer on September 7, 2021, confirms The New York Times. In an obituary to the theatre veteran, the Times noted she died at her San Francisco home "surrounded by her husband, son, brother and friends." While best remembered for her work with the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT), Smith's biggest moment came when she appeared in the Academy Award-winning 2020 drama Nomadland.

Hollywood has had plenty of reasons to mourn this year, having lost several notable names over the course of 2021. On September 21, filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles, often dubbed the 'Godfather of Black cinema', died at 89. On September 8, beloved character actor Michael Constantine died of natural causes. Days prior to that, French cinema icon Jean-Paul Belmondo also died at the age of 88.

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Before her passing, Smith was the Conservatory Director at ACT for 25 years, leading the program to "among the top graduate training programs in the United States." Since appearing in 'Nomadland', a lot has been said and written about Smith's professional life, but the actor always managed to keep her personal life under wraps. Here's everything we know about Smith's husband, who is also a veteran of the stage and Hollywood.

Who is Melissa Smith's husband?

In 1979, Smith enrolled in Yale University, for a BA in English/Theatre. The same year, she moved to the Yale School of Drama's acting program. Within her first week there, Smith met fellow student Warren David Keith, who six years later would go on to become her husband, the obituary noted. Like Smith, Keith would go on to become a giant in San Francisco's theatre scene, appearing since the late 1990s.

Keith has also appeared in several films over the course of nearly three decades. His first credit was as the computer in the 1886 sci-fi film 'The Manhattan Project'. Since then, he has appeared in over 10 projects and several shorts, including in 'Nomadland' with his wife. However, he is best known for appearing in four Cohen brothers films - 'Raising Arizona', 'The Big Lebowski', 'Fargo', and 'A Serious Man'. In the last two, Keith does not appear on screen, but voices actors heard in telephone conversations. 

Little else is known about Keith and Smith's marriage as the couple often kept well out of the media spotlight. In one interview, Smith did open up about her marriage briefly. "We had a 42-year friendship that incorporated our ambitions, our dreams, our successes, and our failures. I am as proud of that deep friendship as I am of my 38-year marriage and being a mother to my adored son," she said. The couple has a son named Owen together. The duo was married for over 35 years, five years after they first met at Yale. Smith died at her home in San Franciso, where the family moved to in 1995 to enable Smith to take up her role with ACT.

The group mourned her death with its own statement, saying, "Melissa's impact on A.C.T. and on the American theater is immense. So many have been touched by her talent, generosity, intellect, grace, and wonderful sense of humor. She will be greatly missed." ACT is also planning an event to celebrate the life of Smith, details about the event are yet to be released.

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