Sam Elliott

The Incredible Life Of Sam Elliott: Little Known Stories Finally Told.


Not Following Father’s Wishes

Has there been a star with a more iconic baritone voice? By all accounts, Sam Elliott is the man. With his rugged style, the man has been working in the movie industry for half a century! Here are some incredible details you probably don’t know about the mustache-wearing legend. The son of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worker, Sam Elliott had to heavily convince his dad to help him fulfill his dream to become an actor. However, it had a big impact on their relationship.

A Tragic Ending

At just 18 years of age, Sam Elliott was informed that his dad had tied as a result of a heart attack. Despite their complicated relationship, Sam was naturally distraught by the loss. He wanted to prove something to his dad. “He died thinking, ‘Man, this kid is going to go down the wrong path,’” he said. “And I think on some level that was either hard on me or made me more focused in my resolve to have a career.”

Off To A Good Start

There is no denying that a highly focused dose of praise can go along way, especially in the acting industry. When Sam was still young and coming up in the game, a newspaper published a review about his performance in the local production of Guys and Dolls. They gave him the ultimate praise, claiming that Elliot had the acting chops to make it in the big time. Delighted by the praise, the actor moved to Hollywood to pursue his dreams.

Working For A Living

When it comes to actors seeking to come up in Hollywood, getting a job as a waiter is synonymous with the lifestyle. You walk into a cafe in this part of the world, chances are you’re being served by someone who wants to be a star. However, Sam Elliot was a bit different. Instead of working as a waiter, he spent his early days working in part-time construction. With plenty of opportunities in this industry, Sam was sorted in between auditions.

Military Man

It is no secret that Sam Elliot has had a number of roles as characters in military situations. However, what some don’t realize is that the actor’s first hint of experience in the military was actually for real. At one point, Elliot was part of the California Army National Guard during his time in the Golden State. Not only did it stand him in good stead for this type of role, but Elliot also commented on how those years enhanced his discipline and leadership skills.

Getting His Start

Every actor has to start somewhere to get their name out there. For Sam Elliot, it was a pretty modest role that kicked things off. His first on-screen role came in an episode on the hit TV series The Felony Squad. This wasn’t all though. Elliot also appeared on another two episodes of the show the following year. After future casting directors noticed this little credit on his resume, they were ready to take a chance with him.

Big Screen Debut

Although Sam Elliot’s debut on the big screen was also fairly modest, it was in an extremely significant movie. He may have been credited as Card Player #2, but there is no denying the cultural significance that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has had on the world of movies. The most ironic part about his on-screen debut though was that his future wife was the star of the movie – Katharine Ross. Amazingly, they didn’t even meet during the movie’s production.

Small Roles Continue

It would take a while before Sam Elliott became a household name. Nevertheless, he maintained a quiet reputation as a well-respected B-list actor, especially during the late 60s/early 70s. With minor roles in shows such as Lancer, Land of the Giants, The F.B.I., and Bracken’s World, Elliott was certainly a recognizable face. He was also noticed for his role as Richie Robinson in the movie The Games.

Blossoming TV Career

With time, Sam Elliott’s profile got higher and higher with every movie and TV role. After landing recurring roles in hit shows such as Mission: Impossible and Once an Eagle, the actor was becoming a better-recognized face with every role. In 1974, his biggest role yet had arrived, landing the title role of Even Knievel in the show of the same name.

Love Connection

As previously mentioned, Sam and Katharine Ross would eventually tie the knot. However, they never met while being on the same set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. However, the future couple had a very different experience a few years later. When Elliott had his first starring role in the film The Legacy, this was the first time that he met Katharine. It wouldn’t take long before the couple hit it off.

Shy Guy

It might be hard to believe, but Sam Elliott is apparently an extremely shy person. It is reported that the actor just couldn’t build up the courage to approach Katharine Ross on the set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It was only later on in life when he was finally confident enough to speak with her. “I didn’t dare try to talk to her then,” he said. “She was the leading lady. I was a shadow on the wall, a glorified extra in a bar scene.”

Showing Off His Assets

One movie that provided a lot of firsts in the career of Sam Elliott was The Legacy. For a start, it was the first time he had been the leading character in a movie. That’s not all though. It was also the first time he met a real-life romantic interest on set. Also, it was the first time he had ever shown his backside on camera! It turns out that the scene was a hit with the critics and the fans.

Katharine Fell For Him

The question on everyone’s lips was the following: what did Katharine Ross see in Elliott? She was asked the question in many interviews, with some speculating that it was his straight-forward nature, or maybe his voice. It could’ve even been his mustache. “Probably all that and more,” she said. “We were working together and one thing led to another.”

Controversial Relationship

It turns out that Sam and Katharine’s relationship wasn’t so clear cut after all. In fact, it was considered to be quite controversial seeing that the actress was still married to Gaetano Lisi at the time. Amazingly, it was her fourth marriage. However, it came to an end in 1979 and before she knew it, Katharine was planning he future with Sam.

Not Interested In Being A Sex Symbol

With time, Sam Elliott was becoming a real hit with the ladies, especially after his role in The Legacy, as well as his highly publicized relationship with Katharine Ross. So much so that in a 1979 issue of Playgirl, the couple were referred to as “Hollywood’s Sexiest Couple.” However, Elliott was adamant that he didn’t want to develop this sort of reputation. “There’s a great stigma that goes with that tag,” he said. “I want to be Sam Elliott.”

Unable To Film

One movie that Sam Elliott was supposed to be in but got replaced last minute was The Ambush Murders. He was supposed to play the role of lawyer Paul Marshall, a lawyer who is defending a black political activist who is wrongfully charged with the murders of two white cops. However, became Elliott became pretty ill while filming the flick, it was ultimately James Brolin who took the role instead.

Tying The Knot

After years of happily dating and with all the drama behind them, Sam and Katharine finally tied the knot in 1984. Amazingly, it was the fifth time that Ross had tied the knot with someone. However, for Elliott, it was his first ever marriage. It wouldn’t take long before the couple started to build a family and brought a child into the world. Their daughter Cleo Rose Elliot was born and it looked like things were going very well.


Almost Passed On Mask

There is no denying that one of the biggest roles of Elliott’s career is in the movie Mask. His role was a biker who was in a relationship with a character played by none other than Cher. Amazingly though, the actor almost didn’t take the role. His agent got in touch with him while he was on his honeymoon in Hawaii and told him that he wouldn’t be able to do a screen test for the part.

Wifey Knows Best

Despite things looking bad for Elliott, Katharine Ross decided to take matters into her own hands. She called the agent and insisted that her husband would be coming back. Not only was the movie huge, but it also made Elliott a household name. “His portrayal of the compassionate biker Gar has received nearly as much critical attention as the performances by the film’s stars, Eric Stoltz and Cher,” A reporter from The Los Angeles Times wrote.

A Cowboy’s Life

One thing was for sure, producers loved using Sam Elliott in Western movies. With roles in classics such as The Quick and the Dead, Tombstone, and You Know My Name, Elliott was at one point the go-to man for Westerns. The actor was eventually inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Where Sam Got His Work Ethic

One thing that separates Sam Elliott from many of his Hollywood contemporaries is his no-nonsense tough guy work ethic. It turns out that the actor credits his dad, of all people, for adopting such a blue-collar style grit. Sam recalls how his dad and friends “were all men’s men and outdoorsmen.” This is what inspired him the most.

The Evolution Of Sam’s Voice

If there is one thing that fans recognize Elliott for the most, it’s his voice. As far as Ashton Kutcher is concerned, who worked alongside Elliot in The Ranch, he could virtually relate “everything.” However, the actor didn’t always have such an iconic voice. Some of his earlier roles demonstrate that Elliott had a higher voice. He said that it “kept going down the older I got.”

Sam’s Secret To Longevity

One important detail about Elliott is his tendency to be picky about his movie roles. “I wanted to be an actor since I was nine years old and I figured that was only one way to ever have any longevity, and that’s to be careful about what kind of work you do,” he said. Sam is a firm believer that fans will get sick of certain performers if they see them on everything.

Almost Didn’t Play Wade Garrett

One absolute cult classic that Sam Elliott will be remembered for is the Patrick Swayze-led movie Road House. However, the actor was originally considered to be the big bad of the movie, villain Brad Wesley. However, Elliott felt like he was a better fit for the role of Wade Garrett, and the rest was history.

The Big Lebowski

It seems like Sam Elliott has become a huge hit with younger generations, especially after his role in the cult classic The Big Lebowski. In fact, it turns out that long before he was cast in the minor role, it actually said in the script that “the voice-over sounds not unline Sam Elliott.” It also states that the characters look “like a drugstore cowboy, looking not unlike Sam Elliott.”

On To Another Big Role

You know what they say – one thing leads to another. This is exactly what happened after Elliott’s role in The Big Lebowski. Filmmaker Rod Lurie loved the dynamic between the actor and Jeff Bridges. Therefore he wrote the movie The Contender with the intention of having the two actors join forces once again. Both obliged, and Elliott was thrilled to star in a movie that was a little different from his previous roles.

Serious Family Drama

Just because someone experiences career success doesn’t mean that all is well in their personal life. This is certainly the case with Sam, as back in 2011, his wife Katharine was forced to get a restraining order against their daughter Cleo. According to court documents, Cleo stabbed Katherine with scissors and threatened to kill her. The court said that Cleo had to stay at least 100 yards away from her mother at all times, lest she be arrested and taken to jail.

Making Amends

Since the restraining order was a temporary emergency one – not a permanent one – when neither Katharine nor Cleo showed up to court, it was automatically canceled. Ever since that tough time, Sam, Katharine, and Cleo have put in the hard work to make sure their family unit is happy and healthy. Cleo lives in Malibu, California and works in the music industry.

The Mustache Man

In a sea of character actors, there’s one distinct thing about Sam Elliott that majorly sets him apart from his competition. Critics and audiences all agree that yes, Sam’s mustache is as much of a star as he is. Sam’s mustache is so widely admired, that in 2015, he had the honor of being inducted into none other than the International Mustache Hall Of Fame.

Family Heritage

Every artist has a reason for picking his projects, and in an interview, Sam explained why he was drawn towards doing Western movies. “My family had a relative who fought at the Alamo,” he explained. ‘I’ve got history in Texas.” The fact that he’s such a man’s man with a bushy mustache and rugged face to match definitely didn’t hurt matters!

He Can Do It All

Just because Sam is best known for his acting career, he still has a few tricks up his sleeve. A jack of all trades, he’s had mild success in producing and writing, and more surprisingly, he’s got some vocal talent as well. He sang a song from the soundtrack of Barnyard (2006) and produced the Netflix series The Ranch.

Love That Lasts

When Sam and Katharine Ross first started their love affair, many believed it wouldn’t last – and for good reason. Before marrying Sam, Katharine had been married and divorced a whopping four times. However, now the couple is having the last laugh, having been married for 33 years. “We have a common sensibility, but we also work at being together,” Sam revealed in an interview. Even marriage counselors agree with Sam that communication is key. Sam Elliott admits, “She is the love of my life”.

He’s Got It All

Sam is pretty upfront about how lucky he is. He shared in an interview that, “The two things that I wanted in my life were to have a movie career and to be married, to have a family,” Sam told a journalist. “And it’s an embarrassment of riches that I’ve got both.” It’s good to see that fame hasn’t gone to his head and he still is humble enough to appreciate what he’s got.



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