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(Image courtesy of Les Adams)
Nora Lane

Real name:
Nora Bennett Schilling

1905 - 1948

Very little biographical info exists on Nora Schilling who used the screen name of Nora Lane. Purportedly, she was born in Chester, Illinois, but grew up and was schooled in the St. Louis area. She also worked in a local stock company and did some modeling work. The story goes that during a visit to a friend in California, Nora was spotted by someone in the film business. This resulted in a screen test ... which she passed. Her earliest film roles were at the tail end of the silent era - and she did a batch of westerns including Tom Tyler oaters for Film Booking Office (FBO), Fred Thomson adventures at FBO and Paramount, and with Ken Maynard at First National and Jack Holt at Paramount.

She was a busy lady during the 1930s, working in a variety of films at both A and B grade production companies. She was the heroine in the early Mascot sound serial, KING OF THE WILD (Mascot, 1931). Included among her 1930s screen appearances are nearly a dozen westerns. She did THE CISCO KID (Fox, 1931) with Warner Baxter, a Rin-Tin-Tin adventure at Warners, four oaters with Tim McCoy, a couple with Ken Maynard, and three in the Hopalong Cassidy series for Paramount. Interesting tidbit: Lane portrays "Nora Blake", a widowed ranch owner and gal friend to William Boyd/Hopalong in a pair of Hoppy adventures, HOPALONG RIDES AGAIN (Paramount, 1937) and CASSIDY OF BAR 20 (Paramount, 1938).

(From Old Corral image collection)
On the left are Nora Lane and William Boyd in a lobby card from CASSIDY OF BAR 20 (Harry Sherman Productions/Paramount, 1938).

Best Nora Lane performance in a western occurs in one of Ken Maynard's finest screen adventures, WESTERN FRONTIER (Columbia, 1935). After his Universal and Mascot period, Maynard wound up doing an eight film series for producer Larry Darmour which were released through Columbia Pictures in 1935-1936. WESTERN FRONTIER, the first in the series, is about a sister and brother separated during an Indian raid on their wagon train. And each child has half of a map to a secret gold mine tattooed on their arms. Years later - and all grown up - the siblings are portrayed by Nora and Maynard. Lucile Browne is the heroine and Nora is the leader of a gang of no-goods.

Time waits for no one. By circa 1939-1940, Nora Lane was in her mid thirties, and her film work was relegated to bit parts and minor support roles - i.e., she played somebody's secretary, a nurse, etc. She did THE GENTLEMAN FROM ARIZONA (Monogram, 1939) which starred John King (before his Range Buster days) and Joan Barclay was the gal lead. She appeared in a few serials and features at Republic Pictures including Gene Autry's SUNSET IN WYOMING (Republic, 1941; Maris Wrixon was the heroine) and HEART OF THE RIO GRANDE (Republic, 1942; Fay McKenzie was the lead). Her fourth and last Hoppy adventure with William Boyd was UNDERCOVER MAN (Harry Sherman Productions/United Artists, 1942). Around 1944, Nora did her final film work and retired.

In December, 2007, I communicated with Tim Henney. Tim's Dad was married to Nora. He writes:

"Nora was born in 1905 in Chester, Illinois and died in Glendale, California in October, 1948. She was happily marrried for several years to my late father, Burdette Henney of Los Angeles, who died suddenly of a heart attack at age 46 in 1948 on a fishing trip with Nora to Bishop, California. One month to the day after he died, she shot herself in their home on Chevy Chase Drive in Glendale, leaving a note for me (I continued to visit her on weekends from my home in Long Beach after my dad's passing) saying she simply could not live without him. She was 43 or 44. Nora was my dad's third marriage and the first one that was happy. I do not know or at least do not recall if Nora had been married previously, but expect she had.

... my dad, who was something of a local celebrity in Los Angeles while a student at USC in the late 1920's as originator of The Trojan War Horse in the student card stunt section at SC football games, public address half-time commentator at the L.A. Coliseum at SC home games for many years, etc.

... She was in her mid to late-30's when she and my dad were wed ...

Rick Albright checked the census information and found the following on Nora:

1930: Nora Schilling is renting ($55 a month) at 2432 1/2 North Beechwood Drive, Los Angeles, California. She is 24 and married (but using her maiden name and no husband in the home). Her Illinois birth is confirmed and her parents also were born there. Her occupation is given as actress/motion pictures. The only other occupant is her sister, Edna, 18, single, no occupation. Many of the neighbors on the same census page are in pictures including cowboy actor Gene Alsace (later known as Rocky Camron).
1920: Nora is 15 and living in the home of her widower father, Louis Schilling, with her siblings, including Edna, her companion in 1930. The Schilling home is in Wellesville, Perry County, Illinois.
1910: Nora is 6 and living in the home of her parents, Louis and Maria, at Wine Hill, Randolph County, Illinois.

You may want to go to the In Search Of ... page on the Old Corral and then to the California Death Records database. There you will find a record for: Nora Bennett Henney, born 9/12/1905 in Illinois, Father's last name of Schilling, and she passed away on 10/16/1948 in the Los Angeles area. There was no record in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).

Nora Lane was NOT one of the four Lane Sisters (Priscilla, Rosemary and Lola of the movies, and sister Leota, who was primarily a stage actress).

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Nora Lane:

Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Nora Henney at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale), Glendale, California:

(Image courtesy of Les Adams)

Above are Nora Lane and Fred Thomson in a lobby card from the silent JESSE JAMES (Paramount, 1927). Lane did four films with Thomson, initially at FBO and then at Paramount.

(Image courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above are Nora Lane and a stern Tim McCoy in a scene from THE OUTLAW DEPUTY (Puritan, 1935).

(Image courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are William Boyd, Harry Worth and Nora Lane in HOPALONG RIDES AGAIN (Harry Sherman Productions/Paramount, 1937). Worth was the brains heavy doing a rather quirky role, operating as a phony Professor of Paleontology.

(From Old Corral image collection)

Prolific director Sam Newfield was with Tim McCoy and producer Sam Katzman at Victory Pictures and he helmed all eight films in the McCoy series, including SIX GUN TRAIL (Victory, 1939). On the right, Karl Hackett is harassing heroine Nora Lane.

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