Lane Smith

This article is about the American actor. For the American children's book illustrator, see Lane Smith (illustrator).
Lane Smith

Smith as Perry White in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, 1993
Born Walter Lane Smith III
(1936-04-29)April 29, 1936
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Died June 13, 2005(2005-06-13) (aged 69)
Northridge, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor, presenter
Years active 1966–2005
Spouse(s) Sydne MacCall[1] (1985–?; divorced; 1 child)
Debbie Benedict (2000–2005; his death; 2 children)

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

Lane Smith was born in 1936 in Memphis, Tennessee. 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 before going off to study at the Actors Studio in the late 1950s and early 1960s along with Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino; there he was recognized with their Hall of Fame. Smith served two years in the United States Army.[2][3]


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, "[Smith] 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.[2]

In 1990, he appeared in Air America playing a United States Senator, a role for which he was selected based on his resemblance to then-Minority Leader Bob Dole. 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.


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.[2] He was survived by his wife, Debbie Benedict Smith and his son Robert Smith.[4]



Year Title Role Notes
1966 Unholy Matrimony Partygoer Uncredited
1970 Maidstone
1973 Last American Hero, TheThe Last American Hero Rick Penny
Cops and Robbers Perpetrator
1974 Man on a Swing Virginia De Leo
1975 Rooster Cogburn Leroy
Everybody Rides the Carousel
1976 Network Robert McDonough
1977 Between the Lines Roy Walsh
Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, TheThe Bad News Bears in Breaking Training Officer Mackle
1978 Blue Collar Clarence Hill
On the Yard Blake
1980 On the Nickel Preacher
Honeysuckle Rose Brag, Cotton's manager
Resurrection Don
1981 Prince of the City Tug Barnes
Soggy Bottom, U.S.A. Smilin' Jack
1982 Frances Dr. Symington
1984 Purple Hearts Cmdr. Markel
Red Dawn Mayor Bates
Places in the Heart Albert Denby
1986 Native Son Britton
1987 Weeds Claude
1988 Prison Warden Eaton Sharpe
1989 Race for Glory Joe Gifford
Night Game Witty
1990 Air America Senator Davenport
1992 My Cousin Vinny D.A. Jim Trotter, III
Mighty Ducks, TheThe Mighty Ducks Coach Jack Reilly
Distinguished Gentleman, TheThe Distinguished Gentleman Dick Dodge
1993 Son in Law Walter Warner
1994 Flight of the Dove, TheThe Flight of the Dove Stephen Hahn
Scout, TheThe Scout Ron Wilson
1996 War at Home, TheThe War at Home Uncredited
1998 Getting Personal Dr. Maddie
Why Do Fools Fall in Love Ezra Grahme
Hi-Lo Country, TheThe Hi-Lo Country Steve Shaw
2000 Caprice, TheThe Caprice Thunderhead[5]
Legend of Bagger Vance, TheThe Legend of Bagger Vance Grantland Rice


Year Title Role Notes
1975 Kojak Clyde Regan Episode: Queen of the Gypsies
Valley Forge Spad NBC television film
1975, 1979 Rockford Files, TheThe Rockford Files Willet
CIA Agent Donnegan
Episode: Claire
Episode: The Battle-Ax and the Exploding Cigar
1977 Displaced Person, TheThe Displaced Person Television film
Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer, TheThe Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer NBC television film
1978 Death in Canaan, AA Death in Canaan Bob Hartman CBS television film
Crash Flight Engineer Romano ABC television film
1979 Solitary Man, TheThe Solitary Man Jack Collins CBS television film
Disaster on the Coastliner John Carlson ABC television film
1980 City in Fear Brian ABC television film
Gideon's Trumpet Fred Turner CBS television film
Rumor of War, AA Rumor of War Sgt. William Holgren CBS miniseries
Georgia Peaches, TheThe Georgia Peaches Randolph Dukane CBS television film/unsold television pilot
Mark, I Love You Don Payer CBS television film
1981 Dallas Prosecutor Episode: Gone, But Not Forgotten
Dark Night of the Scarecrow Harless Hocker CBS television film
Hart to Hart Roy Hamlin Episode: Hart, Line, and Sinker
1982 Prime Suspect Tom Keating CBS television film
Thou Shalt Not Kill Clarence Blake NBC television film
Lou Grant Dr. Lawrence Episode: Unthinkable
Quincy, M.E. Dr. Paul Flynn Episode: Science for Sale
Member of the Wedding, TheThe Member of the Wedding Mr. Addams Television film
1983 Special Bulletin Morton Sanders NBC television film
Chiefs Hoss Spence CBS miniseries
1984 Something About Amelia Officer Dealy ABC television film
19841985 V Nathan Bates 13 episodes
1985 Hill Street Blues Mike Episode: El Capitan
Beverly Hills Cowgirl Blues Captain Max Rosenberg CBS television film
Bridge Across Time Anson Whitfield NBC television film
1986 Amazing Stories Dr. Caruso Episode: Dorothy and Ben
Twilight Zone, TheThe Twilight Zone Professor Joseph Fitzgerald Segment: Profile in Silver
Dress Gray Col. King NBC television film
If Tomorrow Comes Warden Brannigan CBS miniseries
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Robert Warren Episode: Happy Birthday
Kay O'Brien Doctor Robert Moffitt 13 episodes
1987 A Place to Call Home Sam CBS television film
1988 In the Heat of the Night Sonny Mims Episode: Road Kill
Killer Instinct Dr. Butler NBC television film
1989 Murder, She Wrote Pol. Chief Underwood Episode: The Search for Peter Kerry
Final Days, TheThe Final Days Richard Nixon ABC television film
Golden Globe Award (nominated)
1990 Challenger Larry Mulloy ABC television film
Blind Vengeance Col. Blanchard NBC television film
1991 Good Sports R.J. Rappaport 21 episodes
Good & Evil Harlan Shell
False Arrest Martin Busey ABC television film
1992 Duplicates Mr. Fryman USA Network television film
19931997 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Perry White 84 episodes
1994 Murphy Brown Danger Duke Voice only
Episode: Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?
1995 Dweebs Episode: The Cyrano Show
1996 Clueless Dan Hafner Episode: Romeo & Cher
1997 Alien Nation: The Udara Legacy Senator Silverthorne FOX television film
1998 Outer Limits, TheThe Outer Limits Dr. Malcolm Boussard Episode: Glyphic
From the Earth to the Moon Emmett Seaborn HBO television film
1999 Walker, Texas Ranger Reverend Thornton Powers Episode: Power Angels
Inherit the Wind Reverend Jeremiah Brown Showtime television film
2000 King of the Hill Charlie Fortner
Nate Hashaway
Voice only
Episode: Hanky Panky (1)
Episode: Meet the Propaniacs
Episode: Flush with Power
2001 Bull Russell Dantly Episode: Amen
DAG Agent Baxter Episode: The Triangle Report
WW3 John Sullivan Fox television film
Practice, TheThe Practice Judge H. Finkel Episode: The Candidate (1)
2002 Judging Amy Mr. Radford Episode: People of the Lie
2003 Out of Order Frank Showtime television film


  1. "Lane Smith - About This Person - Movies & TV -". 2007-01-18. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  2. 1 2 3 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.
  3. 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.
  4. "Lane Smith Obituary: The Obituary and Death Notice of Lane Smith". Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  5. "Lane Smith Biography (1936-)". Retrieved 2012-02-13.

External links

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