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Sara Lane, who portrayed the orphaned frontier girl Elizabeth Grainger for four seasons of the NBC drama The Virginian, has died. She was 73.
Lane died Friday at her home in Napa, California, after a six-year battle with breast cancer, her husband, Jon Scott, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Lane joined the 1890s Western for the start of its retooled fifth season in September 1966 alongside two other new castmembers: Charles Bickford, who played her grandfather, John Grainger, the new owner of the Shiloh Ranch, and Don Quine, who portrayed her older brother, Stacey Grainger.
She appeared on 105 episodes of the Wyoming Territory-set series through March 1970, with James Drury‘s title character and Doug McClure’s Trampas looking after Elizabeth. The Virginian aired one final season without her.
The oldest of three kids, Susan Russell Lane was born in New York on March 11, 1949. Her parents, Rusty Lane (The Harder They Fall) and Sara Anderson, were actors. She and her family moved west when she was 12, and she attended Santa Monica High School.
After she appeared in commercials, producer-director William Castle saw her photo in the newspaper — she was a participant in a Miss Los Angeles contest — and eventually gave her a role as one of the prank-calling teens in the thriller I Saw What You Did (1965), starring Joan Crawford and John Ireland.
She was great at riding horses, which helped her land the gig on The Virginian.
Later, she was billed as Russell Lane in The Trial of Billy Jack (1974) and Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977). She then retired from acting.
She and Scott were among the co-founders of the Havens Winery in Napa in 1984, and they helped run the place for more than two decades.
In addition to her husband of 43 years, survivors include their children, Sara and James; their granddaughter, Olivia; and her sister, Margretha.
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