Smith was the Chairman and CEO of General Motors Corporation from 1981 to 1990, and is widely known as the main subject of Michael Moore’s 1989 documentary film Roger & Me. Propelled by industry and market conditions, Smith oversaw some of the most fundamental changes in GM’s history.
When Smith took over GM, it was reeling from its first annual loss since the early 1920s. Its reputation had been tarnished by lawsuits, persistent quality problems, bad labor relations, public protests over the installation of Chevrolet engines in Oldsmobile’s, and by a poorly designed diesel engine. GM was also losing market share to foreign automakers for the first time. Brother Smith passed away in 2007.