Lane was under standard 'picture commitment' contracts at Republic during his work in the two KING serials and DAREDEVILS OF THE WEST. Later, Republic opted to put him under a Term Player Contract, and the original and follow-up agreements ran from March 3, 1944 through May 3, 1953. This simply meant that for security and a regular paycheck, Republic could utilize him as much as they wanted. Lane's film credits at Republic number about 65 for the years 1937-1953, and most of these are programmer westerns and serials.
Most of the info on the Old Corral about the contracts and salaries at Republic Pictures has been gleaned from Jack Mathis' excellent Republic Confidential, Volume 2, The Players (Jack Mathis Advertising, 1992), and I've given Jack credit in the Acknowledgements & Thanks page. The Mathis book includes information on Lane's term player agreements with Republic, and following are some highlights:
As mentioned, Lane's last starrer at Republic was EL PASO STAMPEDE (1953). The May 18, 1953 issue of the Independent Exhibitors Film Bulletin noted the end of Lane's tenure at Republic as well as the fade of the B western programmer. Excerpt: "Republic's repudiation of low-budget sagebrushers was emphasized with the dropping of Rocky Lane from contract ..."
Lane appeared on a number of TV shows such as GUNSMOKE, did the voice of talking horse MR. ED. (The story goes that Lane was living with horse trainer Les Hilton and called out for some coffee. MR. ED producer Leonard Goldstein decided on the spot that he had the perfect voice for his TV horse.)
In 1955, Lane made a pilot for a Red Ryder TV series in which he was billed as 'Rocky Lane'. He was made to look more like the way the comic book character was drawn, with one stag-handled gun and a rather plain shirt. The plot has Ryder, Little Beaver and the Duchess battling Bill Henry, as a hay thief and general trouble-maker, and proving to his fiance that gunshy James Best is no coward. Jim Bannon, who played the screen's last Red Ryder in four color features at Eagle-Lion, also made a pilot, but neither was picked up. Lane had brief roles in three Universal color pictures: THE SAGA OF HEMP BROWN (1958) with Rory Calhoun, as a sheriff, and two Audie Murphy vehicles, HELL BENT FOR LEATHER (1960) and POSSE FROM HELL (1961), both times as a townsman.
His line of comic books published by Fawcett (and later Charlton), depicting him as a 'secret marshal' and coloring his shirt blue, ran from May, 1949, through November, 1959, for a total of 87 issues. Fawcett also adapted some of his movies into comic book form. The Fawcett comics covered the first 55 issues, all with cover photos of Rocky. All but the first two of the Charltons simply had cover drawings. The early issues are worth hundreds of dollars today, if they can be found in reasonable condition.
In an article for Wild West Stars, writer Lewis Bagwell lists two marriages for Lane, to Gladys Leslie and Sheila Ryan, an actress. Both ended in divorce. (Click HERE for some supplemental information on Allan Lane, including his marriages, divorces, census, etc.)
Lane's obituary listed only his mother among his survivors. Since he was never credited for his MR. ED work and his last movie series had ended two decades before his October 27, 1973 death from bone cancer, few people had kept up with him. Strangely, that has changed today. Lane's seriousness about entertaining his audiences may have been hard on his contemporaries, but it has left us with dozens of movies we can enjoy repeatedly now.
The Motion Picture Herald and Boxoffice polls were conducted from about the mid 1930s through the mid 1950s. With a few exceptions, the annual results would list the 'Top Ten' (or 'Top Five') cowboy film stars. In most cases, the winners were what you would expect --- Autry, Rogers, Holt, Starrett, Hoppy, etc. Allan Lane was ranked among the Top Ten during the end of the B western era.
|Popularity Rankings of Allan Lane|
|Year||Motion Picture Herald Poll Ranking|
(From Old Corral image collection)
|Wild Bill Elliott's THUNDER = Lane's BLACK JACK|
It appears that the horse 'Thunder' that Bill Elliott owned and rode in the Red Ryder films was sold to Allan Lane in 1946 when he assumed the Red Ryder role. 'Thunder' then became Lane's horse 'Black Jack'.
The archives at the American Morgan Horse Association website has more info on "Anndy Pershing", the horse known as "Thunder" and "Black Jack" which was ridden (and owned) by Bill Elliott and Allan Lane: http://www.morganhorse.com/about_morgan/photos/morgan-photo-archive/937/
|In the Gunbelt Trivia section on the Old Corral, there's a section on the "Wild Bill Elliott/Red Ryder gunbelt" that was worn by several western film performers ... including Allan Lane in his stint as Red Ryder as well as the later Rocky Lane series.|
|Below is Lane wearing the Wild Bill Elliott gunbelt with stag handled sixguns during his turn in the Red Ryder series ... of course the holsters have been flip-flopped to opposite sides so the butts of the pistols face rearward. Crop is from an OREGON TRAIL SCOUTS lobby card shown on a previous webpage.||Below is Allan Lane's well worn gunbelt with black-handled sixguns from his Rocky Lane period. Hard to tell if this is the gunbelt he wore during the Red Ryder films, but it does have similarities. Crop is from the LEADVILLE GUNSLINGER lobby card shown on a previous webpage.|
Thx to Lansing Sexton for the following info on the comic book series of Allan Lane:
Allan Lane's comics career began before he was Rocky, during his Red Ryder days when he appeared on a photo back cover of Dell Publishing's Red Ryder Comics #41 (December 1946). These photo back covers continue through #48 and are also featured in issues 50, 51 and 53 through 57, dated April 1948.
The first 'Rocky' Lane appearance was as a guest star in Charlton comics' Tim McCoy Western Movie Stories #17 (December 1948). Rocky Lane Western #1 appeared in 1949 (dated May) published by Fawcett Publications. The first 20 issues contained a Slim Pickens backup feature (Slim returned once, much later, in #64). #10 featured the story 'Bad Man's Reward' the first of 12 'complete Western novelettes' or, later 'novels' which appeared during the series' first five years. That is, one long Rocky story rather than several short ones. Robert Overstreet's definitive Comic Book Price Guide cites the novel in #29 'The Land of Missing Men' as a classic comic story and describes it as featuring a hidden land of ancient temple ruins. #15 through #25, and issues 64 and 73 had a feature called Black Jack's Hitching Post.
With #56 dated February 1954, Charlton Comics took over the publication of Rocky's comic as they did with many other Fawcett Comics when that important company closed its comics division. This came about as the result of a titanic court case of many years duration in which National Periodicals claimed that Fawcett's very popular Captain Marvel infringed on Superman's copyright.
All 55 Fawcett issues had photo covers with numbers 1 and 2 having photo back covers as well. With the change to Charlton, the photo covers stopped after numbers 56, 57 and 60. The cover of #2 looks like a Red Ryder photo to me, but it's hard to tell Thunder from Black Jack, and not all the covers feature Rocky's blue shirt with black pinstripes. Rocky Lane Western ended with #87 (November 1959).
Apart from his own comic, Rocky was seen in several other titles. The first issue of Fawcett's Cowboy Love (July 1949) has a photo back cover of Rocky, though as usual with these cowboy romance comics, the contents have nothing to do with him. In 1950, Fawcett began Six-Gun Heroes (#1 dated March 1950) featuring Hopalong Cassidy, Rocky and Smiley Burnette. Rocky appeared on the covers of #4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13,1 5, 17, 21 and 23, usually alternating with Lash LaRue, who had been added to the cast. With #24 (January 1954) Charlton took over publication, just as they had with Rocky's own comic. The lineup was now Hoppy, Rocky, Lash and Tex Ritter. Rocky appeared on the cover of #24, the last with a photo cover. Six-Gun Heroes continued through issue 83, but Rocky and friends had disappeared long before. #38 was devoted to TV's Jingles and Wild Bill Hickok. Rocky also appeared in issue 50, probably dated July/August 1954, of Charlton/Capitol Stories title Cowboy Western. The stories in this issue may be reprints of previously published stories.
Meanwhile, in 1950, Fawcett began an undated series called Fawcett Movie Comics, and after 5 issues, four of which were westerns, featured Rocky's movie POWDER RIVER RUSTLERS fondly remembered for its unusual villain. Two issue later, the series returned to Rocky with GUNMEN OF ABILENE. The comic was now numbered and this eighth issue is prominently marked #7. #12 (August 1951) features Rocky's film RUSTLERS ON HORSEBACK, the last of his appearances in this series.
Fawcett had also started a virtually identical but separate series called Motion Picture Comics the same year. The second issue #101 (January 1951) featured Rocky's film CODE OF THE SILVER SAGE. The next two issues also featured Rocky. #103 had COVERED WAGON RAID, and #104 had VIGILANTE HIDEOUT. #107 (November 1951) featured FRISCO TORNADO. Rocky's last appearance in this series was in #109 (March 1952) featuring ROUGH RIDERS OF DURANGO which had been his first film of 1951. Naturally, all these movie comics have photo covers.
All of this represents an extraordinary success in comics, but there was one more special distinction to come. Four years after the last Rocky Lane movie with #20 (the numbering continues from unrelated comics) Charlton began publishing Rocky Lane's Black Jack. This is one of the very few series starring a cowboy's horse! Black Jack ended its run with #30 (November 1959) the same month that Rocky's own comic ended.
In 1989, AC Comics published Rocky Lane Western #1 featuring reprints from the series. In 1990, they did a combined Rocky Lane/Bob Steele issue #1. In 1991, they did a Rocky Lane annual. All have photo covers, the annual and the Steele/Lane issue have photos on the back and inside front covers as well. All three issues are in black and white.
Ted Holland, in his fine B Western Actors Encyclopedia sums up Rocky's appeal: "If I ever have to face a gang of muggers in a dark alley, I don't want Hulk Hogan or Smokin' Joe Frasier by my side, I want Rocky Lane."
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Allan Lane: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0485226/
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a picture of the grave marker for Harry L. Albershart (Allan Lane) at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California, and the marker shows a birth year of 1909: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=3824
Bill Black at AC Comics has a profile on Lane: http://www.accomics.com/westernarticles/western-profile-rocky-lane/
The Images Journal website has a section devoted to the cliffhanger, and one of these is THE TIGER WOMAN with Linda Stirling and Lane: http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue04/infocus/tigerwoman.htm
Dave Smith has a website on 'Hoosiers' (actors and actresses born in Indiana): http://www.whenmoviesweremovies.com/
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a picture of the grave marker for Eddy Waller and his wife Doris at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6687
Circa early 1990s, there were stories about a William Donald Ferrell being Allan 'Rocky' Lane. That claim was debunked years ago, but occasionally, someone sends an e-mail asking if Ferrell was 'Rocky' Lane. Sometime in the mid to late 1980s, the 59 year old Ferrell passed away in Florida. He's interred in Kentucky, and a local newspaper reporter mentions that his marker reads William Donald Ferrell and below that, Alan 'Rocky' Lane. Here's the story at the Glasgow Daily Times newspaper website (Glasgow, Kentucky):