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(Courtesy of Les Adams)
(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)

Nora Lane
Birth name: Nora Marie Schilling
1905 - 1948

Actress Nora Lane was born Nora Marie Schilling on September 12, 1905. Purportedly, she was born in Chester, Illinois or Cora, Illinois which are small communities located in Southern Illinois. Some sources mention that she later worked in local stock theater and fashion modeling in St. Louis. Biographies and family trees (on have her birth name as Nora Marie Bennett Schilling. Appears that "Bennett" came from her 1930s marriage to her business manager, Henry F. Bennett, Jr.

From 1910 and 1920 census records, we know that Nora and the Schilling family lived in small towns in Southern Illinois, about 75 miles from St. Louis. Occupation of her father was a farmer in 1910 and coal miner in 1920. And in the 1930 census, Nora was an actress and living in Los Angeles.

The story goes that during a visit to 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 westerns with Fred Thomson at FBO and Paramount, Tom Tyler at FBO, Ken Maynard at First National, and Jack Holt at Paramount.

She was a busy lady in the 1930s, employed in a variety of films at both A and B grade production companies. Nora was the heroine in the early Mascot sound serial, KING OF THE WILD (Mascot, 1931). And her 1930s - early 1940s appearances included about 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; one with Ken Maynard; and four in the Hopalong Cassidy series for Paramount and United Artists. Interesting tidbit: Lane played "Nora Blake", a widowed ranch owner and gal friend to William Boyd in a pair of those Hoppys, HOPALONG RIDES AGAIN (Paramount, 1937) and CASSIDY OF BAR 20 (Paramount, 1938).

(Courtesy of Bruce Hickey)

A tender moment shared by Nora Lane and Tim McCoy in a lobby card from THE OUTLAW DEPUTY (Puritan, 1935).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above are Nora Lane and William Boyd in a lobby card from CASSIDY OF BAR 20 (Harry Sherman Prod/Paramount, 1938).

Best Nora Lane performance in a B 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 in 1935 - 1936 for producer Larry Darmour which were released through Columbia Pictures. 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 was the heroine and Nora portrayed the leader of a gang of no-goods.

Time waits for no one. By circa 1939 - 1940, Nora was in her mid thirties, and 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 leading lady). Her fourth and last Hoppy adventure with Boyd was UNDERCOVER MAN (Harry Sherman Productions/United Artists, 1942).

Nora retired in the mid 1940s. Her Hollywood career ran from 1927 - 1944 and about 85 films.

Census information on Nora and family:

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 ..."

There were several marriages. Burdette Henney is mentioned above and they tied the knot in 1941. In the 1930s, she married her business manager, Henry F. Bennett, Jr., but that ended in a 1939 Reno, Nevada divorce. "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood" gossip column in January, 1939 newspapers mentioned their split.

California Death Index has 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. Death certificate confirms her suicide - 43 year old Nora Bennett Henney died October 16, 1948 at her Glendale, California home and the cause of death was "gunshot wound of head".

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

In response to several inquiries over the years - 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).

The Randolph Society website is about history and people in Randolph County, Illinois. Nora and family lived in Randolph County when the 1910 census was taken. There's a detailed biography on Nora, including her birth name being Nora Marie Schilling, and birth location being Cora, Jackson County, Illinois:

Death notice for Nora Burdette Henney in the October 17, 1948 Los Angeles Times newspaper. Text contains two errors - she was 43 years old and her middle name wasn't Burdette:

Find A Grave website has a photo of the marker for Nora Henney who is interred next to her husband Burdette Henney at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale), Glendale, California:

(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.

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

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

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

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

(From Old Corral 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, Stephen Chase is harassing heroine Nora Lane.

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