Lane Smith

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Lane Smith
Walter Lane Smith III

(1936-04-29)April 29, 1936
DiedJune 13, 2005(2005-06-13) (aged 69)
Years active1966–2005
Spouse(s)Sydne MacCall[1] (1985–?; divorced; 1 child)
Debbie Benedict Smith (2000–2005; his death; 2 children)

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

Early life[edit]

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; he was recognized in their Hall of Fame. Smith served two years in the United States Army.[2][3]


After graduating, Smith 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, Smith 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. Smith is also credited for playing McMurphy 650 times in the 1971 Off-Broadway revival of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

Smith 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 recognition for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in the docudrama The Final Days. Newsweek praised the performance, writing, "[Smith] is such a good Nixon that his despair and sorrow at his predicament become simply overwhelming." Smith 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. He received a Drama Desk Award for his performance.[2]

In 1990, Smith 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. In 1993 Smith landed the role of Perry White in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, which he played for four seasons until 1997. In 1994, he portrayed New York Yankees front officeman Ron in The Scout, alongside Albert Brooks and Brendan Fraser. In 1998, Smith appeared in a major role as fictional television anchorman Emmett Seaborn in the HBO miniseries From The Earth to the Moon. His final film appearance was in The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000).


Smith was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease) in April 2004. 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 The 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
The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training Officer Mackle
1978 Blue Collar Clarence Hill
On the Yard Blake
1979 Over the Edge Sloan
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
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
The Mighty Ducks Coach Jack Reilly
The Distinguished Gentleman Dick Dodge
1993 Son in Law Walter Warner
1994 The Flight of the Dove Stephen Hahn
The Scout Ron Wilson
1996 The War at Home Uncredited
Why Do Fools Fall in Love Ezra Grahme
The Hi-Lo Country Steve Shaw
2000 The Caprice Thunderhead[5]
The Legend of Bagger Vance Grantland Rice


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Rockford Files Willet
1975 Kojak Clyde Regan Episode: Queen of the Gypsies
Valley Forge Spad
1975, 1979 The Rockford Files Willet
CIA Agent Donnegan
Episode: Claire
Episode: The Battle-Ax and the Exploding Cigar
1977 The Displaced Person
The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer
1978 A Death in Canaan Bob Hartman
Crash Flight Engineer Romano
1979 The Solitary Man Jack Collins
Disaster on the Coastliner John Carlson
1980 City in Fear Brian
Gideon's Trumpet Fred Turner
A Rumor of War Sgt. William Holgren
The Georgia Peaches Randolph Dukane
Mark, I Love You Don Payer
1981 Dallas Prosecutor Episode: "Gone, but Not Forgotten"
Dark Night of the Scarecrow Harless Hocker
Hart to Hart Roy Hamlin Episode: Hart, Line, and Sinker
1982 Prime Suspect Tom Keating
Thou Shalt Not Kill Clarence Blake
Lou Grant Dr. Lawrence Episode: Unthinkable
The Big Easy Lt. Frank Medley
Quincy, M.E. Dr. Paul Flynn Episode: Science for Sale
The Member of the Wedding Mr. Addams
1983 Special Bulletin Morton Sanders
Chiefs Hoss Spence
1984 Something About Amelia Officer Dealy
1984–1985 V Nathan Bates 13 episodes
1985 Hill Street Blues Mike Episode: El Capitan
Beverly Hills Cowgirl Blues Captain Max Rosenberg
Bridge Across Time Anson Whitfield
1986 Amazing Stories Dr. Caruso Episode: Dorothy and Ben
The Twilight Zone Professor Joseph Fitzgerald Segment: Profile in Silver
Dress Gray Col. King
If Tomorrow Comes Warden Brannigan
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Robert Warren Episode: Happy Birthday
Kay O'Brien Doctor Robert Moffitt 13 episodes
1987 A Place to Call Home Sam
1988 In the Heat of the Night Sonny Mims Episode: Road Kill
Killer Instinct Dr. Butler
1989 Murder, She Wrote Pol. Chief Underwood Episode: The Search for Peter Kerry
The Final Days Richard Nixon Golden Globe Award (nominated)
1990 Challenger Larry Mulloy
Blind Vengeance Col. Blanchard
1991 Good Sports R.J. Rappaport 21 episodes
Good & Evil Harlan Shell
False Arrest Martin Busey
1992 Duplicates Mr. Fryman
1993–1997 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
1998 The Outer Limits Dr. Malcolm Boussard Episode: Glyphic
Getting Personal Dr. Maddie
From the Earth to the Moon Emmett Seaborn 6 episodes
1999 Walker, Texas Ranger Reverend Thornton Powers Episode: Power Angels
Inherit the Wind Reverend Jeremiah Brown
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
The Practice Judge H. Finkel Episode: The Candidate (1)
2002 Judging Amy Mr. Radford Episode: People of the Lie
2003 Out of Order Frank


  1. ^ "Lane Smith - About This Person - Movies & TV -". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-11-17. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
  2. ^ 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.
  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.

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