HomeAmerican EntertainmentSara Lane, ‘The Virginian’ Actress, Dead at 73

Sara Lane, ‘The Virginian’ Actress, Dead at 73

by Craig Garrett
Sara lane
(Photo by NBC/Getty Images)

The Virginian actress Sara Lane passed away at age 73 Friday at her home in Napa, California following a battle with breast cancer. The Hollywood Reporter was informed of the actress’s death by her husband, Jon Scott.

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Lane played the orphaned frontier girl Elizabeth Grainger for four seasons on the classic tv western. September 1966 marked the fifth season of Western and the debut of Lane alongside her two new castmates: Charles Bickford, who played her grandfather John Grainger – the owner of Shiloh Ranch- and Don Quine as Stacey Grainger, her older brother.

From its inception in September 1965 until March 1970, she featured on 105 episodes of the Wyoming Territory-set series, with James Drury as the protagonist and Doug McClure as his sidekick Trampas taking care of her. Lane was not part of the series for its final season.

Her prowess on horseback enabled her to earn the role in The Virginian, showcasing her equestrian abilities. As a seasoned horsewoman with two horses of her own, Lane was more than capable to handle her riding scenes in the show. Nonetheless, there were times when the producer demanded that an extra be used for certain shots.

Sara Lane was born into an acting family

Susan Russell Lane, the eldest of three siblings, was born on March 12th, 1949 in New York. Her parents were Rusty Lane (The Harder They Fall) and Sara Anderson – both actors. As a baby, Lane had the opportunity to be featured in an advertisement for soap. She was also in an educational movie. When she turned 12, her luck continued and Lane was cast in yet another commercial – this time for vitamins. At the age of 12, she relocated with her family to the west coast. Here she had the opportunity to attend Santa Monica High School.

After garnering fame through commercials, renowned producer-director William Castle saw her face in the newspaper while she was competing for Miss Los Angeles. This incredible opportunity led to a role as one of the prank-calling teens in I Saw What You Did (1965), starring Joan Crawford and John Ireland.

In the 1970s, Lane turned to lower-budget indie projects under the screen name Russell Lane. She appeared in Schoolgirls in Chains (1973), The Trial of Billy Jack (1974), and Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977). After her roles in these films, she made her retirement from acting official.

She and Scott co-founded the illustrious Havens Winery in Napa Valley in 1984, managing it for more than 20 years. Along with her beloved husband of 43 years, she is survived by their two children Sara and James. She also has a granddaughter Olivia; and a sister, Margretha.