Candace Smith, 76, of Philadelphia, a former commercial and promotional actress, longtime owner of the Garland of Letters Bookstore on South Street, yoga devotee, and “Phillies girl” during the 1970s and ’80s, died Monday, Sept. 6, of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease at home.
Described by longtime friend Marc Goldberg as “a character with great character,” Ms. Smith led an eclectic life that featured an array of achievements.
She filmed commercials and radio advertisements for the Phillies and other local and national clients, appeared as a model in print publications, represented the Phillies and others at promotional events, owned and operated a New Age bookstore, and practiced yoga with respected teacher and author Vijayendra Pratap.
“I’d have to say that the whole world was her stage,” Goldberg said, “and she knew it.”
Cinematographer Garrett Brown worked with Ms. Smith on numerous TV and radio commercials, and said her distinctive voice and ability to improvise added an exciting dimension to their work.
“She danced and preened and seduced in our early commercials, but always a bright, whimsical intelligence glittered behind those eyes,” he wrote in a tribute.
“She loved the camera, and the camera loved her,” Goldberg said.
Ms. Smith opened the Garland of Letters Bookstore, which features a life-size statue of a lion in its doorway, in the 1970s. It offers yoga classes, and sells tarot and oracle decks, music, books on things such as Himalayan sound healing and spells, incense, and other metaphysical-related items.
It won numerous awards from the Philadelphia Flower Show for its window displays, and in 2019 was included in the Best of Philly by Philadelphia Magazine, which described it as a “metaphysical oasis (a vestige of South Street’s long-gone hippie days).”
Friends said the store represented Ms. Smith’s true self and authentic soul. It was “a complete reflection of who she was,” Goldberg said.
Ms. Smith was a founding force and contributing member of the SKY Foundation and Yoga Research Society, and Goldberg called her a “true catalyst and influencer and a foundation stone of these [yoga] communities.”
Gary Levitt and Victor Sonder, directors and advertising executives, hired Ms. Smith in the 1970s to work for their agency, Sonder Levitt & Sagorsky, doing voice-over and on-camera work. Sonder wrote in a tribute that she was “sweet but with a compelling mix of talents and edgy personality traits inside of her.”
“Candy’s legacy is one of beauty, spirituality and love,” Sonder wrote.
Dennis Lehman, the director of marketing for the Phillies from 1970-88 and the current executive vice president of business for the Cleveland Indians, worked with Ms. Smith during her time as a Phillies promotional spokesperson. He oversaw her work in the studio and accompanied her on promotional location shoots with the Phanatic and fans.
“She was professional, personable and just plain fun,” Lehman wrote in a tribute. “I can also speak for the crew at Channel 17; she lit up the studio.”
Chris Wheeler, former community relations director and broadcaster for the Phillies, called Ms. Smith the “ultimate professional” and wrote: “We always laughed how she would come to the studio looking like a flower child. Then about a half hour later would emerge as this glamorous model. But she always was the same down-to-earth, good person.”
Born Feb. 21, 1945, in Indianapolis, Ms. Smith was an only child. She moved to South Florida with her family when she was young, was named a Junior Orange Bowl Princess, spent a few semesters at the University of Maryland after high school, and arrived in Philadelphia with her mother in the 1960s.
Away from work, she liked to garden and surround herself with animals, especially horses, dogs, and cats. She had a getaway home in Unityville, Pa. She suffered a stroke in 2005.
“In her heart of hearts she was the sweetest thing this side of heaven,” Goldberg said.
Services are to be held later.
Donations in her name may be made to the SKY Foundation, 339 Fitzwater St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19147, and the Yoga Research Society, 341 Fitzwater St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19147.