Polar Bear Return to Polar Blair's Den Menu Page

Allan "Rocky" Lane
Allan Rocky Lane
Back to "Actors/Actresses/Performers" Main Page
Back to "The Tiger-Woman" Main Page
Contact The Webmaster

Born: September 22, 1909 in Mishawaka, Indiana, USA
Died: October 27, 1973 in Woodland Hills, California, USA
Cause of Death: Cancer

Spouse 1: Gladys Leslie (?-?) (divorced)
Spouse 2: Sheila Ryan (1945-1946) (divorced)

Biography:
Foreword
Early Life and Career
Lane at Republic Pictures
Lane and his Co-Stars
Private Life?
Death
Sources


Filmography

Photos





Biography:  He should be sainted for being the voice of "Mister Ed" alone, but besides that, Allan "Rocky" Lane is an action hero in the truest sense of the word!  True, he primarily starred in westerns before becoming the voice of "Mister Ed" in later years, but his physical capabilities and stuntwork went above and beyond any of the other western stars of the time.  In his movies, Allan Lane fights like a demon!  I love the "Mister Ed" TV show and he had an incredible talent for voice-acting, but it's nice to know that "Mister Ed" could also kick some a**!  In the 1944 movie serial "The Tiger-Woman", Lane is continuously out-riding, out-shooting, and out-fighting all his enemies!  It's quite a spectacle to see him fight in the movies and something one would have to see to believe!

    Information on Allan Lane is difficult to find, at least all in one place.  With this page, I'd like to share with you as much information and photos as I can cram in this space of the great "Rocky" Lane.  This all comes from my own knowledge and observations of Mr. Lane and from several great sources, which I list at the bottom of this page.

    Lane was born as Harry Leonard Albershart on September 22, 1909 in Mishawaka, Indiana.  His family later moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Studio publicity claimed that he learned to ride as a youngster spending summers on an uncle's ranch near Clovis, New Mexico.  After high school, he is supposed to have enrolled at the University of Notre Dame (this is unverified), started a photography company, and toured New York with a Cincinnati acting company (which is around the time he changed his name).  He worked in nineteen pictures starting with 1929s "Not Quite Decent" and ending with 1932s "The Crash" before dropping out of movies for four years.  Nineteen pictures in three years!  That's incredible!

    Allan came back in 1936 with "Stowaway", the first of six movies at 20th Century Fox including a good role in 1937s "Charlie Chan at the Olympics".  Then he worked in thirteen RKO pictures during 1938-1939, including some leads.  His first western appearance, the genre of which he is best remembered by fans, was in 1938 with "The Law West of Tombstone".  Lane was a bad guy in this one.

    Lane's first work for Republic, the studio for which he is typically associated with by movie buffs, was in 1937 in a sports picture called "The Duke Comes Back".  He returned there in 1940 for "Grand Ole Opry" opposite country music star Roy Acuff.  With the exception of a movie for United Artists ("All-American Co-Ed", 1940) and one at Fox ("The Dancing Masters", 1943), Lane stayed at Republic for the rest of his leading man career.  He didn't always do westerns, though, and made several departures including the 1944 movie serial "The Tiger-Woman", which was definitely an action film.  Lane did serials with Republic up until 1944, then was in six feature-length films from 1944-1945.

    As strange as it may seem to fans of Lane, he was not well-liked by most people who worked with him in his movies.  You always hear about people who worked in B-westerns liking each other or getting along.  Such is not the case with "Rocky" Lane.  Why?  The comments made by his colleagues generally state that he was egotistical, lacked a sense of humor, was too much of a perfectionist, and always wanted to run the show.  In other words, he was a lot like his later character of Mister Ed, the talking horse!  Authors Chuck Thornton and David Rothel published a book in 1990 called "Allan 'Rocky' Lane, Republic's Action Ace".  In this book, there are six full pages of negative comments about Lane from co-stars Peggy Stewart, Terry Frost, William Witney, Yakima Canutt and others.

    Linda Stirling, the "Tiger-Woman", was once asked by writer Paul Dellinger of her recollections about Allan Lane.  She recalled Lane as tending to hog the camera at times, and push her out of the picture until a director would call him on it.  She also recalled a scene where Lane's character had to ride a horse down a difficult descent.  Lane insisted on doing it himself even though the shot was so far away that nobody could tell if it was a stunt double.  He fell off the horse the first time, the second time, and kept doing it until he finally managed to stay on for the duration.

Allan Rocky Lane

    Robert Blake, former Little Rascal and in later years TVs "Barretta", was billed as Bobby Blake and played Little Beaver to the Red Ryder character as portrayed by "Wild Bill" Elliott and Allan Lane.  If you don't know, Red Ryder was a cowboy hero and Little Beaver his Indian sidekick.  Blake has said that Elliott was a real gentleman, but really blasted Lane in no uncertain terms that he was a jerk.  He claims that Peggy Stewart, who also starred in the show, was easy-going and the only person on the set that could get Lane to laugh at himself at all.

    Harry Lauter recalled Lane coming up to him on the set of a movie and ordered him to remove his pants.  Why?  "I'm the only one who wears jeans on this set," answered Lane.  When they met in later years Lane told Lauter about being the voice of "Mister Ed".  Lauter was thrilled, but Lane shushed him.  At the time "Mister Ed" started he didn't want people to know about it.  Why?  There were a lot of years that Lane couldn't find work.  The 1950s were a bad decade for him, he was signed to "Mister Ed" in 1960, and the show started in 1961 as a syndicated show (it wasn't backed by the CBS network until the second season.).  He didn't want people to know that he had been reduced to being the voice of a horse.  In fact, he wanted to remain uncredited because he didn't think the show would last long.  To his surprise, as well as the rest of the cast, "Mister Ed" was a hit from the beginning and as its popularity grew, Lane wanted to be listed in the cast after all.  He was never given credit on "Mister Ed" because from the very first episode they had it listed as Mister Ed playing Himself.  The producers didn't want to ruin the illusion for children that Mister Ed couldn't really talk or make older audiences think that the voice of Mister Ed was changed due to Lane's name now being in the credits.  Alan Young, who played Ed's owner Wilbur, said in his 1994 book "Mister Ed and Me" that Lane, instead, accepted a really healthy raise instead.

    Young talks about Allan Lane quite a bit in his autobiography.  He said that Lane made himself unpopular with some of the regulars for the first three seasons of Ed's six-season run.  The producers had considered and even auditioned for replacements behind Lane's back, but Lane's voice was so identified with being "Mister Ed" that it would've been impossible to change it.  Young doesn't know if Lane was aware of any of this, but does say that by season four he mellowed out a lot.  Out of all the cast members, Lane probably got along with Young the best.  From the very beginning, Lane had let Young know he was a fan of his earlier work and even helped him improve his riding skills as Young was not-at-all a horseman before the series.  Lane, who had money troubles before "Mister Ed" and was not poor anymore.  He bought himself a racehorse during the run of the show and the mare won many of its races.  Whenever Lane would become cantankerous, Young would bring up the subject of the racehorse and Lane would cool right down.  But at the time the show's producers considered replacing Lane, even Young admitted that Lane sometimes got on his nerves.  All in all, though, "Wilbur" and "Ed" got along fine!

    Allan also had an ups-and-downs personal life from the sound of things.  He was married twice, neither lasting very long.  As far as this writer knows, Lane never had children.  His first wife was Gladys Leslie; I don't know the dates.  His second wife was actress Sheila Ryan, and that marriage lasted from 1945-1946.  Both ended in divorce.  He had some lean years in the 1950s and ended up having to live with his friend and horse trainer Lester Hilton at his ranch.  Lester owned and trained the former racehorse known then as "Bamboo Harvester" and later as "Mister Ed".  How special it is that all three, very important to the future success of the "Mister Ed" show, had already known each other and lived with each other!  At any rate, while searching for a voice for "Mister Ed", Lane was found quite by accident.  He popped his head out of the house door and asked in a gruff, southern drawl "Hey Les!  Where do ya keep yer cawfee?".  It was at that moment that he was noticed by execs and recruited into the now-legendary TV show.  Not at all enthused at first about being Ed, but needing the money, Lane wasn't really gracious or outgoing to the cast and crew of "Mister Ed" at first (with the exception of Alan Young, whom he seemed to like straight-away).  This kind of added to his off-camera troubles and almost got him fired.  Wisely, though, producers changed their minds and Lane mysteriously got a change of heart.

    It has been said, though, that Lane looked up many of the people he'd once worked with in his movie days and apologized for the way he behaved.  It is also said that he made many unpublicized visits to children's hospitals during his cowboy days.  He didn't want the press; only to cheer up sick kids.  And other actors who have worked with Lane claimed that although he was tough on the set, he'd ease up when the cameras were off and be nice to everybody.  So Lane has his defenders as well as his critics.  At any rate, it can't be denied that Lane was a top-quality action movie star with some of the best fighting scenes ever filmed to his credit.  I enjoy him a lot as a leading man AND as "Mister Ed".  In fact, his timing and delivery of his lines as Ed is absolutely amazing.  No other voice actor could've done it any better or any more convincing.  Many times, it's hard to believe that the horse can't really talk...it seems so natural!  Fantastic!

    Sadly, Allan "Rocky" Lane died of cancer on October 27, 1973 in Woodland Hills, California.  He was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery. 

Sources:

Book:  "Allan 'Rocky' Lane, Republic's Action Ace" by Chuck Thornton and David Rothel (1990)

Book:  "Mister Ed and Me" by Alan Young (1994)

Internet article: "Allan 'Rocky' Lane" by Paul Dellinger at
www.surfnetinc.com/chuck/alane.htm

Website: Internet Movie Database at
www.imdb.com

Filmography:  In progress.

Photos:  In progress.