Lane Smith

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Lane Smith
Lane Smith as Perry White.jpg
Smith as Perry White in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
BornWalter Lane Smith III
(1936-04-29)April 29, 1936
Memphis, Tennessee
DiedJune 13, 2005(2005-06-13) (aged 69)
Northridge, California
Resting place
OccupationActor, presenter
Years active1966–2005
Spouse(s)Debbie Benedict (2000–2005; his death) 2 children
Sydne MacCall[1] (1985–?; divorced) 1 child
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This article is about the American actor. For the American children's book illustrator, see Lane Smith (illustrator).
Lane Smith
Lane Smith as Perry White.jpg
Smith as Perry White in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
BornWalter Lane Smith III
(1936-04-29)April 29, 1936
Memphis, Tennessee
DiedJune 13, 2005(2005-06-13) (aged 69)
Northridge, California
Resting place
OccupationActor, presenter
Years active1966–2005
Spouse(s)Debbie Benedict (2000–2005; his death) 2 children
Sydne MacCall[1] (1985–?; divorced) 1 child

Walter Lane Smith III, known as Lane Smith (April 29, 1936 – June 13, 2005), was an American actor. Some of his well known roles included portraying collaborator entrepreneur Nathan Bates in the NBC television series V, Mayor Bates in the film Red Dawn, newspaper editor Perry White in the ABC series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Coach Jack Reilly in The Mighty Ducks, district attorney Jim Trotter III in My Cousin Vinny and American President Richard Nixon in The Final Days, for which he received a Golden Globe award nomination.

Early life[edit]

Lane Smith was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1936. He graduated from The Leelanau School, a boarding school in Glen Arbor, Michigan and spent one year boarding at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania[2] before going off to study at the Actors Studio in the late 1950s and early 1960s along with Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino. Smith served two years in the United States Army. [3][4]


After his graduation, he found steady work in New York theater before making his film debut in Maidstone in 1970. During the 1970s, he regularly made appearances in small film roles including Rooster Cogburn in 1975 and Network in 1976. In 1981 he appeared in the Sidney Lumet-directed film Prince of the City. He also acted on television, notably playing a United States Marine in Vietnam in the television miniseries A Rumor of War and in the 1980 Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie Gideon's Trumpet starring Henry Fonda, José Ferrer and John Houseman. He is also credited for playing McMurphy 650 times in the 1971 Broadway revival of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest.

He made a major breakthrough in 1984 with significant roles in Red Dawn, Places in the Heart and the television series V. He also played on Quincy, M.E. in season 8, episode 7, "Science for Sale" as an oncologist searching for a cure to cancer. In 1989, Smith gained great recognition for his portrayal of former Pres. Richard Nixon in the docudrama The Final Days. Newsweek praised Smith's role by stating, "is such a good Nixon that his despair and sorrow at his predicament become simply overwhelming." Smith later earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. He also appeared in the original Broadway stage production of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross as James Lingk. For his role, he received a Drama Desk Award.[3]

In 1990, he appeared in Air America playing a United States Senator. Two years later, he played a small-town district attorney opposite Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny, followed by a role as Coach Jack Reilly in The Mighty Ducks. However, it was not until 1993 that Smith landed his first major television role as Perry White in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, for four seasons before ending in 1997. In 1994, he portrayed New York Yankees front officeman Ron in The Scout, along with Albert Brooks (Al Percolo, Yankees scout) and Brendan Fraser (player Steve Nebraska). In 1998, Smith appeared in a major role as fictional television anchorman Emmett Seaborn in the HBO miniseries From The Earth to the Moon. Smith's final film appearance was in The Legend of Bagger Vance in 2000.

Personal life[edit]

Smith was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease) in April 2005. He died of the disease at his home in Northridge, California on June 13, 2005 at the age of 69.[3] He was survived by his wife, Debbie Benedict Smith and his son Robert Smith.[5]



1966Unholy MatrimonyPartygoerUncredited
1973Last American Hero, TheThe Last American HeroRick Penny
Cops and RobbersPerpetrator
1974Man on a SwingVirginia De Leo
1975Rooster CogburnLeroy
1976NetworkRobert McDonough
1977Between the LinesRoy Walsh
Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, TheThe Bad News Bears in Breaking TrainingOfficer Mackle
1978Blue CollarClarence Hill
On the YardBlake
1980On the NickelPreacher
Honeysuckle RoseBrag, Cotton's manager
1981Prince of the CityTug Barnes
Soggy Bottom, U.S.A.Smilin' Jack
1982FrancesDr. Symington
1984Purple HeartsCmdr. Markel
Red DawnMayor Bates
Places in the HeartAlbert Denby
1986Native SonBritton
1988PrisonWarden Eaton Sharpe
1989Race for GloryJoe Gifford
Night GameWitty
1990Air AmericaSenator Davenport
1992My Cousin VinnyD.A. Jim Trotter, III
Mighty Ducks, TheThe Mighty DucksCoach Jack Reilly
Distinguished Gentleman, TheThe Distinguished GentlemanDick Dodge
1993Son in LawWalter Warner
1994Flight of the Dove, TheThe Flight of the DoveStephen Hahn
Scout, TheThe ScoutRon Wilson
1996War at Home, TheThe War at HomeUncredited
1998Getting PersonalDr. Maddie
Why Do Fools Fall in LoveEzra Grahme
Hi-Lo Country, TheThe Hi-Lo CountrySteve Shaw
2000Caprice, TheThe CapriceThunderhead[6]
Legend of Bagger Vance, TheThe Legend of Bagger VanceGrantland Rice


1975KojakClyde ReganEpisode: Queen of the Gypsies
Valley ForgeSpadNBC television film
1975, 1979Rockford Files, TheThe Rockford FilesWillet
CIA Agent Donnegan
Episode: Claire
Episode: The Battle-Ax and the Exploding Cigar
1977Displaced Person, TheThe Displaced PersonTelevision film
Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer, TheThe Court-Martial of George Armstrong CusterNBC television film
1978Death in Canaan, AA Death in CanaanBob HartmanCBS television film
CrashFlight Engineer RomanoABC television film
1979Solitary Man, TheThe Solitary ManJack CollinsCBS television film
Disaster on the CoastlinerJohn CarlsonABC television film
1980City in FearBrianABC television film
Gideon's TrumpetFred TurnerCBS television film
Rumor of War, AA Rumor of WarSgt. William HolgrenCBS miniseries
Georgia Peaches, TheThe Georgia PeachesRandolph DukaneCBS television film/unsold television pilot
Mark, I Love YouDon PayerCBS television film
1981DallasProsecutorEpisode: Gone, But Not Forgotten
Dark Night of the ScarecrowHarless HockerCBS television film
Hart to HartRoy HamlinEpisode: Hart, Line, and Sinker
1982Prime SuspectTom KeatingCBS television film
Thou Shalt Not KillClarence BlakeNBC television film
Lou GrantDr. LawrenceEpisode: Unthinkable
Quincy, M.E.Dr. Paul FlynnEpisode: Science for Sale
Member of the Wedding, TheThe Member of the WeddingMr. AddamsTelevision film
1983Special BulletinMorton SandersNBC television film
ChiefsHoss SpenceCBS miniseries
1984Something About AmeliaOfficer DealyABC television film
1984–1985VNathan Bates13 episodes
1985Hill Street BluesMikeEpisode: El Capitan
Beverly Hills Cowgirl BluesCaptain Max RosenbergCBS television film
Bridge Across TimeAnson WhitfieldNBC television film
1986Amazing StoriesDr. CarusoEpisode: Dorothy and Ben
Twilight Zone, TheThe Twilight ZoneProfessor Joseph FitzgeraldSegment: Profile in Silver
Dress GrayCol. KingNBC television film
If Tomorrow ComesWarden BranniganCBS miniseries
Alfred Hitchcock PresentsRobert WarrenEpisode: Happy Birthday
Kay O'BrienDoctor Robert Moffitt13 episodes
1987A Place to Call HomeSamCBS television film
1988In the Heat of the NightSonny MimsEpisode: Road Kill
Killer InstinctDr. ButlerNBC television film
1989Murder, She WrotePol. Chief UnderwoodEpisode: The Search for Peter Kerry
Final Days, TheThe Final DaysRichard NixonABC television film
Golden Globe Award (nominated)
1990ChallengerLarry MulloyABC television film
Blind VengeanceCol. BlanchardNBC television film
1991Good SportsR.J. Rappaport21 episodes
Good & EvilHarlan Shell
False ArrestMartin BuseyABC television film
1992DuplicatesMr. FrymanUSA Network television film
1993–1997Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanPerry White84 episodes
1994Murphy BrownDanger DukeVoice only
Episode: Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?
1995DweebsEpisode: The Cyrano Show
1996CluelessDan HafnerEpisode: Romeo & Cher
1997Alien Nation: The Udara LegacySenator SilverthorneFOX television film
1998Outer Limits, TheThe Outer LimitsDr. Malcolm BoussardEpisode: Glyphic
From the Earth to the MoonEmmett SeabornHBO television film
1999Walker, Texas RangerReverend Thornton PowersEpisode: Power Angels
Inherit the WindReverend Jeremiah BrownShowtime television film
2000King of the HillCharlie Fortner
Nate Hashaway
Voice only
Episode: Hanky Panky (1)
Episode: Meet the Propaniacs
Episode: Flush with Power
2001BullRussell DantlyEpisode: Amen
DAGAgent BaxterEpisode: The Triangle Report
WW3John SullivanFox television film
Practice, TheThe PracticeJudge H. FinkelEpisode: The Candidate (1)
2002Judging AmyMr. RadfordEpisode: People of the Lie
2003Out of OrderFrankShowtime television film


  1. ^ "Lane Smith - About This Person - Movies & TV -". 2007-01-18. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ a b c Oliver, Myrna (2005-06-15). "Lane Smith, 69; Character Actor Gained Fame Playing Nixon in 'The Final Days'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-12-08. 
  4. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 280. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. 
  5. ^ "Lane Smith Obituary: The Obituary and Death Notice of Lane Smith". Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  6. ^ "Lane Smith Biography (1936-)". Retrieved 2012-02-13. 

External links[edit]