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Merrett Smith collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 7879

Scope and Contents

This collection includes more than one thousand photographs, many with negatives, taken by Merrett Smith circa 1968-1999 of Hollywood celebrities (actors, actresses, musicians, and athletes) and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He authored a book called "Shoot for the Stars" in which he included many of the photographs of celebrities in this collection; the book is included in the collection. There are over five hundred photographs (circa 1987-1999) from the Cameracraftsman of America. The Cameracraftsman of America is a group of fourty of the best photographers in the United States and each year every photographer submits a photograph to be included in a bound book. Included in this collection are six years of submitted photographs along with three bound books from 1985, 1990, and 1995. Also included is a scrapbook of Merrett Smith's accomplishments, his Mamaiya C330 camera, two volumes of the Reagan Cabinet portraits, and Merrett Smith's instructions for printing.


  • 1966-1999


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Merrett Smith Collection must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical history

Merrett Smith (1926-) was an American portrait photographer most famous for being the official photographer for President Richard Nixon.

Merrett Smith was born in May 14, 1926 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He went to high school in Provo, Utah where Merrett volunteered to be the schools photographer. Due to the vast amout of photographs that needed to be taken and retouched, be asked Gail Abel to help him. After high school he went into the Navy and was assinged to the photo lab where he learned and perfected his photography skills. He and Gail were married shortly after he completed bootcamp. They eventually moved to Salt Lake City and Merrett was asked to take the picture of David O. McKay (the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and this led him to became the official photogapher for two Utah Governors. He eventually became the offical portraitist for President Richard Nixon, and Governor Ronald Reagan. In 1969 he recieved his Masters Degree in photography and he moved his studio to Century City, California by the encouragement of Art Linkletter. In in Century City studio be took many portraits of actors and actresses. He also took portraits at Osmond Studios in Orem, Utah during the late 1970's and 1980's of the guest stars of the "Donny and Marie" show. He taught at many symposiums unually on new portrait techniques. He invented a press that texturized photographs. He became the president of the Professional Photographers West (PPW) circa 1973, along with being a member of the very prestigious association: Cameracraftsmen of America.


11 boxes (5.5 linear ft.)

6 oversize boxes (5.5 linear ft.)

1 item (1.0 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Maintained in original order.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Kept in cold storage; access requires 24 hours advance notice.

Custodial History

This collection was donated by Gail Smith in 2010, the wife of Merrett Smith.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Gail Smith; 2010.


Photographs (Photograph Archives).

Separated Materials

Included with the collection were fourteen books on photography technique.

1. Mason, Jerry. The Family of Children. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1977. 2. McDonald, Tom. The Business of Portrait Photography: Revised Edition. New York: Amphoto Books, 2002. 3. Redd, True. La Rose: an Intimacy of Roses. Telluride, CO: Western Eye, 1990. 4. Photographic Art and Science Foundation, Inc., comp. Leading Professional Photographers in Japan: Portraiture. Des Plaines, IL: Photographic Art and Science Foundation, 1981. 5. Morris, Desmond. Manwatching: a Field Guide to Human Behavior. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1977. 6. Hines, Sherman. Nova Scotia. Halifax, N.S.: Nimbus Limited, 1986. 7. Gilbert, Albert. Gilbert: A Portfolio. Toronto, Canada: Pro Guide, 1994. 8. De, Meyer Adolf, and G. Ray. Hawkins. Of Passions and Tenderness: Portraits of Olga by Baron de Meyer. Marina Del Rey: Greystone, 1992. 9. Smith, Merrett. Shoot For The Stars. Hong Kong: Pro Guide, 1994. 10. Dimitri. Who’s Who Of Michigan Portrait Photography. Marceline, Missouri: Walsworth Publishing Company. 11. McIntosh, William S. Location Portraiture: the Story behind the Art. Rochester, NY: Silver Pixel, 1996. 12. Strasser, Joel. Where My Heart Is. Sioux Falls, SD: Ress Arts, 1984. 13. Karsh, Yousuf. Faces of Our Time. Toronto: University of Toronto, 1971. 14. Curtis, Jack. Wedding-portrait Photography World. Santa Monica, CA: K. Jon and J. Curtis, 1984.


Prominent people included in the collection: Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Thomas S. Monson, James E. Faust, Gordon B. Hinckley, Ezra Taft Benson, Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, Marion G. Romney, David O. McKay and his wife Emma Ray Riggs, Harold B. Lee, Howard W. Hunter and his wife Inis Stanton, Merrill J. Bateman and his wife Marilyn S. Bateman, Boyd K. Packer, David B. Haight, Jeffrey Holland and his family.

Hollywood celebrities: Sid Ceaser, John Wayne (?), Jack Lemon, Dick VanDike, Tom Seleck, Dean Martin, The Osmond brothers, Betty white, Jaclyn smith, Ann B. Davis, Ronda Flemming; Anton, Susan; Auberjonios, Rene; Alcroft, James; Arnaz, Desi Jr.; Avalon Frankie; Bailer, Razzie; Bach, Cathy; Barr, Doug; Bateman, Jason; Bean, Williams; Benedict, Dick; Beny, Chuck; Benny, Jack; Best, James; Blythe, Ann; Boone, Debby; Bradshaw, Terry & Jo Jo ; Bridges, Todd ; Brisebois, Danielle; Brittany,; Morgan; Brothers, Dr. Joyce; Burton, LeVan; Butler, Dean; Buzzi, Ruth; Byner, John; Capra, Frank; Caradine, John ;Carpenter, Richard; Carson, Johnny ;Carter, Billy; Cassidy, Ted; Charo; Checker, Chubby; Clark, Roy; Crofoot, Gayle (Solid Gold Dancers); Crosby, Cathy Lee; Crosby, Norm; Coco, James; Commodores; C___is, Diana; Conrad, Robert; Conway, Jeff; Conway, Tim; Cooley Bop Dancers; Coolidge, Rita & Kristopherson, Chris; Copperfield, David; Coyote, Peter; Cosby Kids; Collins, Gary & Marry Ann Mokley ;Dallas Cheerleaders; Damian, Mike; Dark, Johnny; Davis, Billie; Davis, Danny; Day, Dennis; DeLeon, Jack; DeWitt, Joyce; Diller, Phillis; Durrant, Jimmy; Edelman, HerbEden; Estrada, Eric; Evasan Gregg; Fabray, Nanette; Fargo, Donna; Fleming, Peggy; Flemming, Ronda; Frazer, Joe; The Gap Band; Garr, Terry; Gauanayh, Bob; Gayle, Crystal; Geary, Tony; Gibb, Andy; Gibb, Maurice; Goodeve, Grant Goubet ; Robert; Green, Lorne; Hackett, Buddy; Hamill, Dorothy; Hasselhoff, David; Harrington, Al; Hawaiian Muscle Man; Higgins, Joel; Henning, Doug; Hensley, Sherman; Heston, Charlton; Holden, Rebecca; Howard, Ron; Hope, Bob; Hull, Bobbie; Humperdink, Englebert; Johnson, Jay; John, Olivia Newton; Jones, Panelli (?); Jones, Tom; Jump, Gordon; Kanaly, Steve; Kaplan, Gabe; Keel, Howard; Kennedy, Jayne; Kirby, George; Knight, Ted; Ladd, Sheryl; Landsberg, Valerie; Larson, Nicolette; Lawrence, Carol; Lawrence, Vickie; Little, Rich; Linkletter, Art; Lemon, Jack; The Letterman; Lonow, Claudia; Lynde, Paul; Mack, Kenneth; Martin, Dean; Mandrell, Louise; Mantalban, Ricardo & Herve Villechaize; Margret, Ann; MaryJane Girls; McArdle, Andrea; McClead, Garin (?); McCoo Marilyn & Billy Davis Jr.; McGuire Sisters; McLean, Don; McLarson, L_____; McNicole, Kristy; Merman, Ethel; Michaels, Jill; Miller, Roger; Mitchan, Robert; Most, Donny; Namath, Joe; Newhart, Bob; Newton, Wayn; Olsen, Merlin; Orlando, Tony; Palace, Jack; Peoples, Nia; Pointer Sisters; Pride, Charley; Raitt, John; Rich, Adam; Richardson, Susan; Rigby, Kathy; Reynolds, Bert; Ruff, Howard; Russell, Harris; Russell, Jane; Colonel Sanders; Santa, Noy; Scarpelli, Glenn; Schneider, John; Schroeder, Ricky; Schroyer, Sonney; Seals & Croft; Seals, Dan; Seleck, Tom; Seymor, Jane; Shelton, Gene; Schneider, John & wife; Sheppard, T.C.; Sinatra, Frank; Smith, Jaclyn; Smith, Robyn; Snead, Sam; Solid Gold Dancers; Sommers, Suzanne; Spielberg, Steven; Skaggs, Ricky; Stallone, Frank; Stevens, Connie; Stevenson, Parker; Struthers, Sally; Swan, Lynn; Swit, Loretta; Theismann, Joe; Thomas, B.J.; Thomas, Danny; Thomas, Heather; Tieas, Cheryl; Tillis, Mell; Teller, Dr.; Teives (?), Lauren; Turner, Ret; VanDyke, Dick; Vereen, Ben; Walker, Cronkite; Walker, Jimmy; Walters, Barbara; Warwick, Dianna; Welsh, Raquel; West, Dottie; White, Betty; White family; White, Jesse; Williams, Andy; Williams, Cindy; Williams, Paul; Wolfman, Jack; Worley, JoAnne; Wopat, Tom; Wynette, Tammy; Young, Robert.

Politicians: Ted Kennedy; Ronald Reagan; Gerald R. Ford; George W. Bush Sr. and wife; Richard Nixon; Robert Dole (Bush Sr. Cabinet).

Other: Carol Lawrence; Dinah Shore; Leon Shiffren (great conductor at LA Music Center); Arnold Frieberg Racquel Welch; Barbara Eden; Jane Seymore; Ron Clark family; Loren Greene; Chuck Conners; Teller (great scientist); Stewart Granger; Marianne Magoo; Robert Mithum; James? ___Olmos; Robert Goullet’s wife; Cheryl Tieggs; Calleen Robinson (1947 Centennial Queen of Utah); Apollo 14 golf shot Alen Shepard; Josef Karsh (great photographer); Jay Stock (great photographer); Caroline Lassiter (miss America 1945); Gary Collons & Marianne Mobley; Dennis Day and daughters; Don Rickles Family.


Included in the collection is a book he published: "Shoot for the Stars" by Merrett Smith 1994, Pro Guide Publishing, ISBN 0-929116-03-8.

Processing Information

Processed; Lionel Thomas, student photograph processor; 2011.

Register of the Merrett Smith collection
Lionel Thomas
2011 June 14
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States