Unraveling the Mystery of the Smith Reynolds Murder: A New Exhibition Sheds Light on a 90-Year-Old Case

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – In a fascinating exhibition at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, the mysterious and tragic story of Zachary “Smith” Reynolds, the youngest heir to the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco fortune, is finally brought to light. On the night of July 6, 1932, Smith was found shot in the head on the sleeping porch of his family’s home, sparking speculation about whether it was suicide or accidental. His pregnant wife, Broadway star Libby Holman, and his best friend, Ab Walker, were both indicted for his murder, but charges were dropped before the case went to trial. The exhibition, titled “Smith & Libby: Two Rings, Seven Months, One Bullet,” delves into the lives of the main players and the events of that fateful night, shedding new light on a decades-old mystery.

The exhibit features interviews with descendants, lawyers, and even the nightwatchman on the scene, as well as a collection of artifacts and documents connected to Smith and Libby’s lives. Visitors can explore their vibrant lives before the tragedy, as well as the aftermath of the incident, including the wallet Smith had tossed to his friend with fifty-nine business cards and a re-creation of the porch where the shooting took place. The exhibition aims to present the story candidly and transparently, revealing the individuals behind the scandal of that moment.

The mysterious circumstances of Smith’s death garnered nationwide attention, with numerous theories and speculations arising. The case was eventually dropped at the behest of the Reynolds family, leaving the true events of that night shrouded in ambiguity. However, the lasting influence of Smith’s inheritance can be seen in the establishment of the Reynolds Foundations and the relocation of Wake Forest University to Winston-Salem.

As the exhibition brings the long-whispered story to light, questions still linger about what truly happened that night. The curator, Phil Archer, believes that there was a cover-up, prompting visitors to draw their own conclusions from the compelling exhibit before it closes on December 31.

The story of Smith and Libby remains a captivating and enigmatic chapter in the history of the Reynolds family, leaving unanswered questions and lingering intrigue about the events that transpired on that fateful night in 1932.