The Unknown Life Of The Incredible Sam Elliott


Sam Elliott has had a career in Hollywood that has spanned over 50 years and, while everyone may be familiar with his rugged style and impressive mustache, there are many things people may not know about the actor. While he has proven to have achieved great success on-screen, Elliott’s life behind cameras has caused quite the number of tabloid headlines. During this time he has also had a supportive wife on his arm, after meeting fellow actress, Katharine Ross and falling completely head over heels for her. With their love came the drama, however, and just like any storyline, they have had their ups and downs from the beginning. Meanwhile, Elliott has been under the radar in recent years, but fans should not fret over his disappearance. Rather, Elliott has chosen to follow another direction, which has proven to be successful following the release of The Ranch on Netflix.

Not Following Father’s Wishes

Sam Elliott had to convince his father, who had always worked as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worker, to help him become an actor.

elliot

Sam’s dream of stardom seemed to have a considerable impact on their relationship, with his father not entirely back his son’s career aspirations and goals.

A Tragic Ending

When the aspiring actor Sam Elliott was just 18-years-old, his father had tragically died of a heart attack. Although the pair had a complicated relationship, Elliott was naturally upset but still wanted to prove something to his dad after his death.

elliott

“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

For any aspiring actor hoping to make it big in Hollywood, a good review means everything. Just as Sam was making his way into the acting industry, a newspaper wrote a review about his performance in the local production of Guys and Dolls.

sam

The article claimed that Elliott could make it big, and this was enough for the actor to move to Hollywood to finally fulfill his dreams. This was just the start of Sam Elliott proving something to his late father.

Working For A Living

For most actors seeking to make a living in Hollywood, it is most likely that they are serving you in a local cafe before getting their big break. However, while getting a job as a waiter is synonymous with becoming an actor in that part of town, this was not the case for Sam Elliott.

elliott

Instead, the aspiring actor was working part-time in construction. Fortunately, for Elliott, there was plenty of opportunities in this industry, and he did not have to worry about making money in between auditions.

Military Man

Any fan of Sam Elliott will know he has had his fair share of military roles on the big screen. However, what some may not know, is that Elliott had a history in the military. Before becoming a well-known actor, Elliott was part of the California Army National Guard when he lived in the Golden State.

miliry

While this prepared Elliott for his roles in military situations, reflecting on this time, he said that his experience in the military enhanced his discipline and leadership skills.

Getting His Start

Before becoming a worldwide known actor, Sam Elliott had to start from somewhere. His first on-screen role was on an episode of the hit TV series, The Felony Squad, of which he appeared on another two times a year later.

elliott

This little credit seemed to do wonders on his resume as it caught the eyes of future casting directors. While he was not a big star just yet, these casting directors were willing to take their chances with Sam Elliott, and it seems that their instincts were right.

Big Screen Debut

Just like his start on television, Sam Elliott’s debut on the big-screen was fairly modest. Nevertheless, this role had a huge impact since the movie was truly iconic. He starred as ‘Card Player #2’ alongside Butch Cassidy and the “Sundance Kid,” who have had a huge cultural significance in the world of movies.

movie

Moreover, the most ironic part of his on-screen debut was that his future wife, Katharine Ross, was the star of the movie. However, the pair did not even meet during the movie’s production.

Small Roles Continue

With minor roles during the late 60s/early 70s, it would take a while before Sam Elliot became a household name. However, with roles in Lancer, Land of the Giants, Bracken’s World, and The F.B.I., Elliott became a recognizable face and was a well-respected B list actor during this time.

elliott

Furthermore, his role as Richie Robinson in the movie, The Games, gained recognition and Elliott was on the right path to becoming a big Hollywood actor, just as he aspired to become.

Blossoming TV Career

With every movie and role that Sam Elliott was cast in, his profile started to expand. He landed significant roles in films such as Mission: Impossible and in shows such as Once an Eagle, making his face even more recognizable within the industry.

elliott

It seems that all these roles paid off, and it was then in 1974 that Elliott landed his biggest role yet, and that was when he was cast to play the title role in the film, Even Knievel.

Love Connection

Sam Elliott eventually went onto marry fellow actress, and co-star, Katharine Ross, even though the pair did not meet while on the same set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

elliott

It was a few years later when Elliott starred in the film, The Legacy that he met Katharine and the pair immediately hit it off. It seemed that they had more in common than both being actors and starring in the same film just a couple of years earlier.

Shy Guy

While he may be a big-time, Hollywood actor, Sam Elliott claims he is an extremely shy person. For that reason, the actor never approached Katharine Ross while on the set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid because he did not have the confidence to do so.

married

“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.” Instead, it the encounter between the pair happened a few years later.

Showing Off His Assets

The Legacy had a significant impact on Sam Elliot, both professionally and personally. For starters, it was the first time he had been a leading character in a movie, a huge milestone for any actor trying to make it in the industry.

elliott

It was also the first time he met his future wife while on set, and also the first time he had exposed his backside on camera. It seems that less is more, however, since this scene won over fans and critics, which did wonders for his career.

Katharine Fell For Him

While Sam Elliott finally built up the courage to speak to Katharine Ross, and eventually marry her, many people wondered what the actress saw in her fellow co-star.

elliott

In interviews, she was constantly asked the same question, with many assuming it had to be his voice, his mustache, or his straight-forward nature. The speculation was not too fair off either, with Katharine admitting, “Probably all that and more.” She continued, “We were working together, and one thing led to another.”

Controversial Relationship

While the actors created their real-life fairytale, their relationship started off as being quite controversial. In fact, Katharine was still married to Gaetano Lisi at the time she started to have feelings for the actor.

elliott

Moreover, Lisi was her fourth husband, but it was not to last, and their relationship came to an end in 1979. It was soon after that Katharine and Sam were planning their future together, and all the drama that surrounded their relationship seemed to be worth it in the end.

Not Interested In Being A Sex Symbol

Katharine was not the only lady who had her eyes on Sam either. The actor proved to be a real hit after his role in The Legacy, gaining a lot of female attention. While he developed a highly publicized relationship with Katharine, the 1979 issue of Playgirl referred to the pair as “Hollywood’s Sexiest Couple.”

playgirl

Yet, this was not a reputation the actor wished for, claiming, There’s a great stigma that goes with that tag.” He said, “I want to be Sam Elliott.”

Unable To Film

Sam Elliott was supposed to be in the film, The Ambush Murders, but got replaced by another actor last minute. His role in the movie would have been to play Paul Marshall, a lawyer who is defending a black political activist wrongfully charged with the murders of two white cops.

elliott

Reason for Elliott’s replacement was not because of his acting skills, but rather than the actor became relatively ill while filming. As a result, James Brolin became his replacement and was given the role.

Tying The Knot

Following the initial controversy and several years of dating as a happy couple, Katharine and Sam married in 1984. While this was amazingly Katharine’s fifth marriage, it was Sam’s first, and it seems he made the right choice.

elliott

It was not long until the couple went from a family of two to a family of three when they welcomed their first child into the world. Their daughter, Cleo Rose Elliott, was born just four months after the couple tied the knot.

Almost Passed On Mask

Taking a look back at Elliott’s lengthy and successful career, there is no denying that his feature in the movie, Mask, was one of his best. Starring as the biker who was involved in a romantic relationship with Cher, it is hard to believe that Elliott nearly did not take the role.

mask

However, this was the case since his agent got in touch with him while he was in Hawaii on his honeymoon, and said he would not be able to make the screen test for the part.

Wifey Knows Best

While Elliott may have accepted defeat on this one, his new wife did not. Rather, Katharine took matters into her own hands after Elliott told his agent he would not be able to make the screen test.

biker

She called back and said her husband would be coming back. In hindsight, Elliott has his wife to thank for making him a household name since the movie became a huge hit. Although he starred alongside Eric Stoltz and Cher, all eyes were now on Sam Elliott.

A Cowboy’s Life

As time went on, it became apparent that producers just loved casting Sam Elliott in Western movies. Elliott has starred in classics such as Tombstone, The Quick and the Dead, and You Know My Name, having become one of the more in-demand actors for Westerns.

sam

His roles in these movies made such an impact that the actor was eventually inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum; not many actors can say they’ve been given the same honor such as this.

Where Sam Got His Work Ethic

While many may group all Hollywood actors in the same category, there is one thing that separates Sam Elliott from his fellow contemporaries. It is Elliott’s no-nonsense work ethic that allows the actor to stand out from the rest, and he thanks his late father for this particular trait of his.

sam

Speaking of his late father and his friends, he said that they “were all men’s men and outdoorsmen,’ and he was inspired to follow in their footsteps. It is from watching them that he adopted a similar personality.

The Evolution Of Sam’s Voice

Another thing that makes Elliott stand out from other actors, is his voice. Fans can recognize Sam’s iconic voice from the moment he starts speaking, and it has become one of the actor’s more unique attributes.

sam

Ashton Kutcher, who worked alongside Elliott in The Ranch, said he could virtually relate “everything,” but Elliott notes this has come with age. While in some of his earlier roles, Elliott was heard to have a higher voice, he says that it “kept going down the older I got.”

Sam’s Secret To Longevity

It may have been Elliott’s longtime dream to become an actor, but that does not mean he is not picky about which movie roles he chooses to take. Speaking of this, he said, “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.”

sam

In Elliott’s eyes, fans would get bored of actors if they see them in too much.

Almost Didn’t Play Wade Garrett

Another cult classic that Sam Elliott will forever be remembered for is Road House, where he starred alongside the iconic Patrick Swayze. Initially, however, Elliott was considered to play the part of bad guy, Brad Wesley, but things later changed for the actor.

sam

Elliott himself felt that his acting abilities were better suited for the role of Wade Garrett, and the actor sure knew what he was doing. His part as Garrett paid off, and it has since gone down in history as one of his best.

The Big Lebowski

After starring in the cult classic, The Big Lebowski, Elliott gained himself a younger following. While he only had a minor role in the film, he gained a lot of recognition from both fans and writers.

sam

In fact, before he was even cast to star in the iconic movie, the script wrote “the voice-over sounds not unlike Sam Elliott,” followed by the characters should look “like a drugstore cowboy, looking not unlike Sam Elliott.” Sam Elliott was certainly making his mark in the movie industry.

On To Another Big Role

After his role in The Big Lebowski, Sam Elliott was the name on filmmaker Rod Lurie’s lips. He loved the dynamic between Elliott and Jeff Bridges and wrote a movie with the intention of casting the two actors to work together again.

sam

As a result, The Contender was born, and both actors obliged to be apart of the film, joining forces once again. Elliott was proof that one thing leads to another and he was happy to be starring in something different to his previous roles.

Serious Family Drama

While Elliott was finally living his dream of becoming a successful Hollywood actor, life at home was not having quite the same fairytale ending. In fact, in 2011, after a brawl with her daughter, Katharine forced a restraining order against Cleo.

family

Court documents later revealed that Cleo stabbed the mother-of-one with scissors and threatened to kill her. As a result, Cleo was to stay at least 100 yards away from her mother, or else she would be arrested and taken to jail.

Making Amends

The restraining order happened to be a temporary emergency one rather than a permanent one since neither Katharine nor Cleo turned up to their court hearing. As a result, the restraining order was automatically canceled, and, fortunately, the family members were able to work through their troubles together.

sam

The actor, his wife, and their daughter worked hard in making sure their family was a healthy and happy unit, and Cleo now lives in Malibu and works in the music industry.

The Mustache Man

While there are many actors in Hollywood, there is something distinctive that sets Sam Elliott apart from the rest. Just as Elliott has proven he is a quality actor, his mustache alone has singled him out from his competition.

sam

That’s right, his facial hair has shown to be just as famous as the actor himself, and has been widely admired by both critics and fans. So much so, that in 2015, Sam Elliott won the honor like no other when he was inducted into the International Mustache Hall Of Fame.

Family Heritage

Taking a look over Sam Elliott’s lengthy resume, chances are you will see many Western roles standing out the most. While Sam has claimed to be picky about the roles he chooses, this genre has proven to be quite popular with the actor, and he has explained why.

elliott

“My family had a relative who fought at the Alamo,” he said. ‘I’ve got history in Texas.” It’s a bonus that the actor already looks the part with his impressive mustache and rugged style.

He Can Do It All

Sam Elliott may be best-known for his acting skills (and his mustache some might argue), but he has proven to be a man of many talents. Alongside his success in front of the camera, he has also had success in producing and writing.

elliott

In fact, Elliott produced the Netflix series, The Ranch. Moreover, he’s more than just a triple threat since he has also got some vocal talent as well, and sang a song for the soundtrack of Barnyard (2006).

Love That Lasts

Since there seems to be the Hollywood curse when it comes to actors in relationships, many were cynical about Katharine and Sam’s romance ever lasting. Furthermore, Katharine had already been married and divorced a staggering four times, so there was even more reason for people to have doubt.

sam

Nevertheless, having now been married for 34 years, they have proven the world wrong. Speaking in an interview, Sam said, “We have a common sensibility, but we also work at being together.” He continued, “She is the love of my life!”

He’s Got It All

Sam is certainly one to count his lucky stars and has realized the great fortune and achievements he has made in life. While he always dreamed of being an actor, there was more that Sam hoped to achieve as time went on.

sam

“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 during an interview. “And it’s an embarrassment of riches that I’ve got both.”

What’s He Worth?

After working hard to achieve his dreams of becoming an actor, Sam Elliott went above and beyond. He has since developed a long and distinguished career, having starred in some of the most well-known movies.

sam

With such success, it is no wonder we are curious as to how much Sam Elliott is actually worth. While the actor himself has never revealed the exact sum, it has been reported that thanks to his acting and wise real-estate investments, he’s within the region of an impressive $16 million.

Sam’s Secret Trick

Tinseltown is a completely different place now to what it was when Sam started his career in the City of Dreams. In the past, the studio contract system ruled, and this was significantly important because it was make-or-break for actors.

sam

Sam knew this, so the wise actor made sure he charmed the ladies at the Fox Motion Picture Studios offices so he could be first in line to get the best new scripts. Once he found a script he liked, he would go straight to the casting directors.

Notable Voice Role

Along with his mustache and quality acting skills, Sam Elliott is also known for his distinctive voice. However, just when you thought you might be able to recognize his voice amongst a big crowd, you may not have known that Elliott is the voice of Smokey Bear.

smokey

The highly claimed actor is, in fact, the voice of the fire safety bear and has been since 2008. It is no surprise, however, since his gruff voice is perfect for a gruffly bear.

Always A Perfectionist

Sam Elliott has proven to be one successful actor, and very little people could fault the star when it comes to his acting abilities. However, one person that can, is Elliott himself. During an interview, Elliott explained that he wished he had more formal training in his early days of acting.

elliott

Reflecting on this, he said that he “might have been a more interesting actor” had he learned more from the start. As his biggest critic, he watches himself back in old movies and wishes he could re-do them.

Creative Control

Sam has proven he is a man of many talents, but he is also an actor with artistic integrity. As an actor who is very particular about the roles he chooses to play, he values quality over quantity, and never plays a character because of the paycheck at the end.

elliott

Of course, this creates financial risks for the actor, who passes up projects which could have seen him sitting in great fortune. Sam’s response, however, is, “I’d rather be a pain in the ass and make better art.”

Sam’s Love For Westerns

Having explained that his Alamo family heritage helped him get the part in many Western movies, there is more to it than just Elliott’s background and appearance that made him take these roles.

sam

When speaking in an interview, Elliott went further in explaining, saying, “I think it has something to do with integrity and a man’s word and honor and all that kind of stuff––values, morality, all that kind of stuff that everybody looks kind of down their nose at.”

The Reason He Did It

Just like most children growing up, Elliott longed for his parents’ approval when it came to his pursuits and career. Therefore, Elliott’s father’s initial rejection of his desire to pursue acting hit the actor hard.

sam

Explaining that his dad thought it was a mistake on Sam’s part, the actor has expressed, “That’s the worst part of it when you don’t think your dad’s proud of you.” Rather, Sam claimed, his father was proud when he went fishing and hunting instead.

What’s Sam Up To?

After a lengthy and successful career, Sam Elliott has taken a back seat in the last few years, leaving people to wonder where exactly he’s gone. That is not to say the actor has been doing nothing, however.

elliott

In fact, he produced and starred in the Netflix series, The Ranch, and, in 2017, appeared in The Hero alongside his real-life wife, Katharine. Moreover, Sam has been working behind the camera on the upcoming, A Star is Born, which features Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

Fond Memories

With such success as an actor, many people are intrigued to get to know more about their lives. A journalist once quizzed Elliott on his favorite role of his career, and his answer was in the film, The Hero.

sam

However, his reason being was not because of the part itself, but because of the cast and crew. “I think what I remember most about films are the people rather than the films themselves,” Elliott explained in the interview. He continued to say that The Hero was a “labor of love.”

Fits Just Right

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine another actor in particular roles because the chosen actor did such a great job, leaving many to believe the role was made for them. However, when it came to the lead role of Lee Hayden in The Hero, it was written specifically for Elliott!

hero

Just as many actors would probably be, Sam was “totally flattered” that the movie’s screenwriter and director, Brett Haley, created this project so that the talented actor to work his magic.

His Biggest Influences

Sam Elliott has proven to be a successful actor, but he doesn’t take all of the credit himself. Although his father may not have been the most supportive of his acting dreams, he does acknowledge his influence on him, as well as, his mother’s.

elliott

To be honest with you I think my parents made the biggest difference in my life,” Sam said. “He [Sam’s father] was a man’s man, and that rubbed off on me. My mom has always been completely supportive of my work.”

Doesn’t Feel Typecast

Since Elliott has the perfect look and the talent to be the ideal man to take on the role of a Western cowboy, people may assume he has become typecast into this particular genre.

cowboy

However, the actor, who always dreamed of making it big, has embraced this and honors the genre that made him famous. As a fan of Westerns himself, he stated in an interview that, “I think there’s a real truth to Westerns and a real simplicity to them that appeals to people.”

It’s Not All About The Money

As such a successful actor, there is no need for Sam Elliott to worry about saying no to particular projects. However, when Sam was just starting out in the industry as a starving artist, he needed to make sure he was getting enough exposure, as well as, some money.

eelliott

For this reason, he would take unseemly projects in order to see a paycheck at the end of the day. Commercial voice-overs gave the aspiring actor financial stability, which then allowed him to be more particular about film roles.

His Thoughts On Katharine’s Career

Regardless of the controversy and doubt that surrounded their relationship at the beginning, Sam and Katharine have sustained a marriage of over thirty years. A real credit to the Hollywood couple, who are in an industry where marriages do not even last a year these days!

katharine

Speaking of their great marriage success, Sam said that the secret to their happiness is Katharine’s focus on her family rather than her career. Explaining that Katharine has never been a “fame-chaser,” she put more love into her life at home.

Beef’s For Dinner

Just as movie audiences were drawn in by Sam’s distinctive voice, advertising executives believed that the actor was the perfect candidate for commercials. He has since been the voice behind the popular beef commercials but, with this, came heavy demands.

sam

Sam explained that the demands of the beef barons started to affect him, and he “started to bristle” doing this type of work. With all the drama from company executives, Sam no longer wanted to be a part of the beef commercials.

Sam’s Seen Changes

Anyone who works half a century in the entertainment industry is bound to see some major changes and advances. This is exactly the case for Sam Elliott who has had a lengthy career in Hollywood spanning over five decades.

sam

Speaking of the changes from his start to now, Sam said, “Changes that have been made in the technological world have revolutionized the movie business on almost every level.” He continued, “There are some constants that are never going to change.”

Focusing On Each Day

As a man of artistic integrity, Sam Elliott has gone through his career being true to his own vision and focused all his energy and attention on his current project at the time. Rather than looking regretfully in the past, or thinking about what could be in the future, Sam is all about the here and now.

elliott

“It’s hard work, but it’s a creative, artistic process,” Sam said in an interview. “And if you can’t enjoy that, then you’re going about it wrong.”

Mustache Wars

There is no ignoring the striking similarities between Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck, with much of this being because of their impressive mustaches. As real-life bosom buddies, journalists are keen to ask who they believe has the better mustache!

sam

Sam says, “I think it all depends on where we are at the time, you know? Right now I’ve got more of a mustache than Tom does, but I know he can grow one. I don’t think he’s ever grown his out the way I’ve grown mine out over the years.”

Another Project In The Works

In October 2018, A Star is Born, is set to hit theatres, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Meanwhile, Sam Elliott is set to make a brief cameo in this upcoming project but also worked as the director on the film.

elliott

After working behind the camera, a slightly different role for the credited actor, Sam explained that it was “an amazing experience.” He also discussed his admiration for the talented Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper and their thespian skills on the film.