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Walter Lane Smith III (April 29, 1936 – June 13, 2005) was an Americanmarker actor. Some of his well known roles include portraying unscrupulous collaborator entrepreneur Nathan Bates in the NBC television series V, unscrupulous collaborator Mayor Bates in the fim Red Dawn, newspaper editor Perry White in the ABC series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and unscrupulous USA President Richard Nixon in The Final Days, for which he received a Golden Globe award nomination.


Early life

Lane Smith was born in Memphis, Tennesseemarker in 1936. He graduated from The Leelanau School, a boarding school in Glen Arbor, Michiganmarker where he is enshrined in the school's Hall of Fame, and spent one year boarding at The Hill Schoolmarker in Pottstown, Pennsylvaniamarker before going off to study at the Actors Studiomarker in the late 1950s and early 1960s along with Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino.


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. He also acted on television, notably playing a U.S. Marine in Vietnam in the made for television miniseries A Rumor of War.

He made a major breakthrough in 1984 with significant roles in Red Dawn, Places in the Heart and the television series V. In 1989, Smith gained great recognition for his portrayal of former President 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 Broadwaymarker stage production of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross as James Lingk. For his role, he received a Drama Desk Award.

In 1990, he appeared in Air America playing a U.S. 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. The show last for four seasons before ending in 1997. 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

Smith was married twice. His first marriage was to writer Sydne MacCall. The couple had one son together: Robby Smith born on January 24, 1987. In 2000, he married to Debbie Benedict who had one son from a previous marriage.

Smith was previously in a relationship with actress Mariette Hartley.


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. He was 69 years old.


Year Film Role Other notes
1966 Unholy Matrimony Partygoer Uncredited Role
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
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
1980 Soggy Bottom, USA Smilin' Jack
On the Nickel Preacher
Honeysuckle Rose Brag, Cotton's manager
Resurrection Don
1981 Prince of the City Tug Barnes
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
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 Role
1998 Getting Personal Dr. Maddie
Why Do Fools Fall in Love Ezra Grahme
The Hi-Lo Country Steve Shaw
2000 The Caprice Thunderhead
The Legend of Bagger Vance Grantland Rice
Year Title Role Notes
1975 Kojak Clyde Regan Episode: Queen of the Gypsies
Valley Forge Spad NBC TV-Movie
1975, 1979 The Rockford Files Willet
CIA Agent Donnegan
Episode: Claire
Episode: The Battle-Ax and the Exploding Cigar
1977 The Displaced Person TV-Movie
The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer NBC TV-Movie
1978 A Death in Canaan Bob Hartman CBS TV-Movie
Crash Flight Engineer Romano ABC TV-Movie
1979 The Solitary Man Jack Collins CBS TV-Movie
Disaster on the Coastliner John Carlson ABC TV-Movie
1980 City in Fear Brian ABC TV-Movie
Gideon's Trumpet Fred Turner CBS TV-Movie
A Rumor of War Sgt. William Holgren CBS Miniseries
The Georgia Peaches Randolph Dukane CBS TV-Movie/Unsold TV-Pilot
Mark, I Love You Don Payer CBS TV-Movie
1981 Dallas Prosecutor Episode: Gone, But Not Forgotten
Dark Night of the Scarecrow Harless Hocker CBS TV-Movie
Hart to Hart Roy Hamlin Episode: Hart, Line, and Sinker
1982 Prime Suspect Tom Keating CBS TV-Movie
Thou Shalt Not Kill Clarence Blake NBC TV-Movie
Lou Grant Dr. Lawrence Episode: Unthinkable
Quincy, M.E. Dr. Paul Flynn Episode: Science for Sale
The Member of the Wedding Mr. Addams TV-Movie
1983 Special Bulletin Morton Sanders NBC TV-Movie
Chiefs Hoss Spence CBS Miniseries
1984 Something About Amelia Officer Dealy ABC TV-Movie
1984–1985 V Nathan Bates 13 episodes
1985 Hill Street Blues Mike Episode: El Capitan
Beverly Hills Cowgirl Blues Captain Max Rosenberg CBS TV-Movie
Bridge Across Time Anson Whitfield NBC TV-Movie
1986 Amazing Stories Dr. Caruso Episode: Dorothy and Ben
The New Twilight Zone Professor Joseph Fitzgerald Segment: Profile in Silver
Dress Gray Col. King NBC TV-Movie
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 TV-Movie
1988 In the Heat of the Night Sonny Mims Episode: Road Kill
Killer Instinct Dr. Butler NBC TV-Movie
1989 Murder, She Wrote Pol. Chief Underwood Episode: The Search for Peter Kerry
The Final Days Richard Nixon Golden Globe Award (nominated)
ABC TV-Movie
1990 Challenger Larry Mulloy ABC TV-Movie
Blind Vengeance Col. Blanchard NBC TV-Movie
1991 Good Sports R.J. Rappaport 21 episodes
Good & Evil Harlan Shell
False Arrest Martin Busey ABC TV-Movie
1992 Duplicates Mr. Fryman USA Network TV-Movie
1993–1997 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Perry White 84 episodes
1994 Murphy Brown Danger Duke Voice Role
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 FPX TV-Movie
1998 The Outer Limits Dr. Malcolm Boussard Episode: Glyphic
From the Earth to the Moon Emmett Seaborn HBO TV-Movie
1999 Walker, Texas Ranger Reverend Thornton Powers Episode: Power Angels
Inherit the Wind Reverend Jeremiah Brown Showtime TV-Movie
2000 King of the Hill
Charlie Fortner
Nate Hashaway

Voice roles
Episode: Hanky Panky
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 TV-Movie
The Practice Judge H. Finkel Episode: The Candidate
2002 Judging Amy Mr. Radford Episode: People of the Lie
2003 Out of Order Frank Showtime TV movie


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