Lane Smith, who played Nixon in the 1989 docudrama “The Final Days,” died Monday June 13 in Los Angeles of complications from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 69.
Smith earned a Golden Globe nom for his role in the production based on the book “The Final Days” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
The program garnered glowing reviews, but Nixon supporters labeled it a smear, while Nixon critics said it was too sympathetic to the fallen leader. It also provided a big boost to Smith’s career.
In 1991, he landed regular roles in short-lived TV series “Good Sports” and “Good and Evil.”
He also played a hockey coach in the highly popular “The Mighty Ducks,” a politician in Eddie Murphy’s “The Distinguished Gentleman” and a lawyer in “My Cousin Vinny,” all released in 1992.
Smith then secured his longest-running TV role on ABC’s “Lois and Clark” as Daily Planet editor Perry White. The show ran from 1993 to 1997.
Born in Memphis, Tenn., he studied drama at what is now Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh spent two years in the Army and then moved to New York to study at the Actors Studio.
Smith made his off-Broadway debut in 1959 and acted in several plays on and off Broadway.
In the late 1960s, he played Randle Patrick McMurphy for 650 off-Broadway performances of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” He earned a Drama Desk Award for his role in “Glengarry Glen Ross” in 1984.
Smith made his motion picture debut in 1970 in Norman Mailer’s “Maidstone,” and in 1978, he moved to Los Angeles to concentrate on film and television work. His first motion picture starring role came in 1988 when he played the warden in “Prison” with Viggo Mortensen. He also appeared in TV shows including “Kay O’Brien” and “V,” and in films such as “Rooster Cogburn,” “Network” and “Places in the Heart.”
He is survived by his wife Debbie, a son and a stepson.