You know Sara Lane as the charming and witty actress who plays Elizabeth Bennet in the hit TV series The Virginian. But did you know that she started her career in her birthday suit? No, it’s not what you think. She wasn’t a stripper, adult film star or anything crazy like that. She was a baby model!
That’s right, Sara Lane was born into a family of photographers and actors who decided to use their adorable daughter as their own personal muse. Lane appeared in countless magazines and commercials as a cute and cuddly infant, often wearing nothing but a smile. She even landed a role in a movie when she was only six months old!
But that was just the beginning of her fascinating life story. Sara Lane went on to become one of the most versatile and talented performers of her generation, starring in dramas, comedies, musicals, and even action films. She won numerous awards and accolades for her work, and has also been involved in many humanitarian causes.
In this facts-packed video, we will take you on a journey through Sara Lane’s amazing career and personal life. We will reveal some of the secrets behind her success, some of the challenges she faced along the way, and some of the captivating and most memorable moments from her projects.
So stay tuned and get ready to be entertained by the incredible story of Sara Lane!
Facts Verse Presents: Sara Lane of The Virginian Started Her Career In The Nude
Sara Lane Got Her Start In Diapers
Sara Lane was born into a prominent show business family on March 12, 1949, in New York City. Her parents are actors Russell Lane and Sara Anderson, who uses their daughter as their muse. Owing to her family’s connections, she features in dozens of magazines and commercials. As a downright adorable and bubbly bundle of joy, donning nothing but her birthday suit. She even landed a role in a major motion picture before she said her first word.
Lane moved to California with her family when she was 12 years old, and attended Santa Monica High School. She continues to act in commercials and films. Also, she develops other interests such as making clothes, making jewelry, and raising quarter horses.
That hobby will be her thing throughout her life and will come to be one of her most cherished passions.
As you are probably already well aware, being a child star isn’t always easy. In fact, experiencing fame and plunging into the limelight at an early age can lead to numerous unfortunate side effects. Reportedly, Sara Lane’s experience in school was not very enjoyable. She often missed classes or exams due to her filming schedules, and she felt lonely and isolated from normal life. Also, she struggled with self-esteem and identity issues, feeling insecure about her looks and talents. She later revealed that she hated being famous because it made her feel like an outsider
Lane did not enjoy the spotlight as a child either. She once said that she did not want to act, but she merely needed money to support her hobbies. She also felt pressured by the expectations of others and by the competition in Hollywood. Because of this, she prefers to spend her free time with her family and friends, or with her horses.
Sara Lane’s Big Break
Sara Lane lands her big break when producer William Castle saw her picture in a newspaper. It covers her participation as a semi-finalist in a Miss Los Angeles Teen beauty contest. Castle cast her as one of the teenage pranksters who get into trouble with Joan Crawford in the 1965 thriller I Saw What You Did. The film wound up being a success and subsequently launched Sara’s career as a young starlet.
Following that big break, Lane then joined the cast of The Virginian, one of the longest-running western series on television. The popular series aired from 1966 to 1970. In it, lane played Elizabeth Grainger, an orphaned girl who lived with her grandfather at Shiloh Ranch. She co-starred with James Drury and Doug McClure, who became like brothers to her on and off screen. She did most of her own stunts on the show, thanks to her skills as an equestrian. Also, she had romantic scenes with guest stars such as Robert Redford, David Cassidy, and Kurt Russell.
Sara Lane’s Career Declined
Sara Lane’s acting career after The Virginian ended was not very successful to say the least. She appeared in only three more movies, Schoolgirls in Chains (1973), The Trial of Billy Jack (1974), and Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977). These films were low-budget productions that did not receive much critical acclaim or commercial success.
After failing to find continued success in Hollywood, Lane then retired from acting and co-founded the Havens Winery in Napa Valley with her husband, Jon Scott. There they produced red wine blends that gained a solid reputation over time. In 2010, they sold their business to the Smith-Anderson Wine Group.
An Avid Equestrian
As we already briefly touched on, Sara Lane had a lifelong love for horses. She owned two horses and was an expert rider. From an early age, Lane only saw acting as a means to an end. She knew that money was what made the world go round, but she didn’t want it to rule her life. It’s because of this sentiment that she famously said that she did not want to act but simply needed money for raising said quarter horses.
Sara Lane used her skills as an equestrian to perform many of her own stunts on The Virginian. She did her own riding scenes on the show, except when the producer insisted on using a double. This made her unique in the entertainment industry, as most actors relied on stunt doubles for dangerous or difficult scenes. Sara Lane also impressed her co-stars and fans with her courage and talent.
She Recently Passed On
Sara lane sadly died on March 3, 2023, at her home in Napa Valley, California, after a six-year battle with breast cancer. She was 73 years old.
Her death was mourned by many fans and fellow actors who remembered her as a talented and kind person. Don Quine, who played her brother on “The Virginian”, wrote on Facebook: “How lucky I am to have been your big brother (Stacey) at Shiloh Ranch on The Virginian…You were always so sweet & kind & loving & fun & funny & smart & beautiful…I will miss you terribly but I know you are now free from pain & suffering.”
Mike Barnes, an editor at The Hollywood Reporter likewise mourned her death by tweeting: “#RIP Sara Lane.”
Unfortunately, there is not much information available about Sara Lane’s funeral and burial. The only source we could find that mentions her burial is a Find a Grave memorial page that says “Burial Details Unknown”. It also has a photo of her grave marker with her name, dates of birth and death, and the words “Beloved Wife Mother Grandmother Sister”. It’s unclear where she was laid to rest as her obituaries do not mention any details about her funeral or burial either.
Lane’s legacy is that of an actress who brought joy and warmth to millions of viewers who watched her on “The Virginian”. She also left behind that successful winery business that she co-created with her husband. She was undoubtedly an inspiration for many young women who wanted to pursue their dreams in acting or other fields.
Other Cast Deaths
Besides Sara Lane, several other cast members of The Virginian have also passed away in the years since the hugely successful and emblematic series came to an end. The Virgnian starred James Drury as the title character, a ranch foreman in Wyoming. Drury was one of the few actors who stayed with the show throughout its run, along with Doug McClure, who played his friend and cowboy Trampas. Drury died in April 2020 at age 85 of natural causes.
Doug McClure died in 1995 at age 59 from lung cancer.
Another prominent cast member was Lee J. Cobb, who played Judge Garth, the owner of Shiloh Ranch and the father of Betsy (played by Roberta Shore). Cobb was an acclaimed actor who had been nominated for two Oscars and originated the role of Willy Loman on Broadway. He left The Virginian after four seasons and died in 1976 at age 64.
The Virginian’s Enduring Legacy
The Virginian influenced countless other TV shows and films by setting a high bar for quality and realism in the Western genre. It also introduced complex characters who had moral dilemmas and personal conflicts, rather than stereotypical heroes and villains. Some of the shows and films that were inspired by The Virginian include Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, Lonesome Dove, Tombstone, Unforgiven, and Deadwood.
Sara Lane, as Elizabeth Grainger, helped contribute to the show’s success by adding a feminine touch and a romantic interest for some of the male characters. She also represented the changing role of women in the late 19th century as she pursued her education and independence.
The Virginian won three awards and received two nominations during its run. It won two Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Drama in 1964 and 1965, and one Western Heritage Award for Fictional Television Drama in 1970. It was also nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series for Lee J. Cobb in 1963 and 1964.
Fans of the iconic western can watch The Virginian online on various streaming platforms such as Starz Roku Premium Channel, Spectrum On Demand, Starz Amazon Channel, or the Freevee streaming channel. You can also catch it on Prime Video or Hulu.
Sara Lane appeared in 105 episodes of the series from 1966 to 1970. She was known for her sweet and innocent personality and her love interest with Trampas (played by Doug McClure).
Besides starting that aforementioned winery business with her husband, Lane also later became involved in animal welfare causes and founded an organization called Hawaii Horse Rescue. She additonally wrote a book called The Latchkey Dog: How the Way You Live Shapes the Behavior of the Dog You Love.
Lane is still remembered by many fans of The Virginian as one of its most charming characters, and even though she is no longer with us, her legacy will without a doubt live on for many generations to come.
On that note, we’ll go ahead and wrap things up. But before you go, we’d love to hear from you. Were you a fan of The Virginian, and did you know that Sara Lane got her start as a child star when she was still just a baby? Let us know in the comments, and as always, thanks for watching.