Over The Rainbeaux
Happy Birthday to not only the Drive-In Theater (born this day in 1933, Camden, New Jersey) but to the woman who would act as a spacey muse to those giant screens across America under the stars. I’ve written more extensively about Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith in my essay on LEMORA, A CHILD’S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL (1973):
Smith was a product of the free-wheelin’ 1970′s, allegedly gaining her nickname from the famed Rainbow Club on the Sunset Strip. She became a mainstay, usually unclothed, in Jack Hill’s charming THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS and its unrelated sequel REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS (pregnant to boot but touchingly included in the hijinks because the director wanted her in there. He knew.). She also appeared in the best women-in-prison film, Jonathan Demme’s CAGED HEAT and many other cult movies. Sadly, she had a major sub-plot in Walter Hill’s THE DRIVER that was later cut. Rainbeaux Smith had a troubled history and for more insight, here’s Chris Barbour’s wonderful account of his years knowing her, and perhaps the most moving tribute comes from our own Marc Edward Hueck, whose journey from fan to pallbearer at her funeral is essential reading. Quentin Tarantino aptly called her “a hippie Marilyn Monroe” and that’s about right.
And she has been my own muse, as I even named my lead character after her in my script 18 WHEEL BUTTERFLY. So I’d like to think she’s watching down on us dreamy cine-misfits, her soft distant smile a beacon to anybody who ever saw her glow on the small or big screen…