Washington, D.C. (May 25, 2010) — Screen Actors Guild Regional Branch Division leadership and the Washington-Baltimore leadership of SAG/AFTRA hosted a special celebration to honor SAG/AFTRA Washington-Baltimore Branch member Sheldon Smith, the recipient of the prestigious Howard Keel Award Saturday in Washington, D.C. at the National Press Club. The award is the highest recognition given by the Regional Branch Division.
“As someone who has received far more than my share of honor and recognition during my lifetime, I can honestly say this was perhaps the only one which came as a complete surprise. I am very gratified and truly appreciate it,” said Smith. "To me, it reflects the gratitude I have for my membership in Screen Actors Guild and in AFTRA. Being a union member has afforded me professional opportunities I would not otherwise have enjoyed and my earned union benefits have allowed me to be a full-time working actor with a long and rewarding career."
A member since 1968, Smith is an award-winning actor/narrator and perhaps the best-known voice of Republican media campaigns in America. He is a four-time winner of the Peer Award for Voiceover/Narration, the recipient of 19 Telly Awards, multiple Pollie Awards and Reed Awards, and a CINE Golden Eagle Award, among other recognitions.
For several years, Smith has presented a very popular workshop nationwide which teaches members how to convert non-union work into union jobs. Smith has also participated in every Branch Wages & Working Conditions Committee for both the Commercials and Industrial Contracts for over 20 years.
"Sheldon epitomizes service to the union. He has lent his time, energy, intellect and considerable talent to an extraordinary number of efforts that have benefited members across the country," said SAG 3rd National Vice President David Hartley-Margolin. "Sheldon's service has been tireless, staggering, and offered for years without regard for recognition, making him more than deserving of this distinguished award."
Named for the legendary actor-singer and former SAG president, the Howard Keel Award is annually presented to persons who make a significant contribution to the promotion of SAG and to the welfare and benefit of members in their Branch, or nationally, as part of the Regional Branch Division. Keel was SAG’s 10th president (1958-59) and during his term, the SAG National Board was increased from 39 to 52 seats, allowing for Branch representation — for the first time — from New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit and Boston.