Sam Elliott has earned for himself a distinct spot in Hollywood like few others ever have. Almost everything about him is unique and instantly recognizable. His tall and imposing frame, his rich deep commanding voice, his weathered handsome looks. And, of course, the mustache. You definitely know his face and voice, even if you can’t remember from where. That’s because even though he never achieved the massive fame and superstar status of Clint Eastwood or Harrison Ford, his undeniable appeal has been winning him one juicy role after another for half a century.
But there is much more to Sam Elliott than his undeniably appealing looks and voice. His life, in and out of Hollywood, has been amazing and memorable. So read on, and I promise you will be struck by the fascinating and engrossing story of one of Hollywood’s most unlikely stars.
Not Following Father’s Wishes
Elliott was born in the summer of 1944 in northern California. His father was a government employee who worked in the wilderness as an animal control specialist. His mother was a high school teacher and fitness instructor. Sam knew from a very young age that acting was to be his calling in life, but his father thought that it was an unrealistic goal and insisted that his son follow a traditional career path including a college degree.
The conflict between father and son over Sam’s life path and acting dreams would eventually result in a damaged relationship that never had a chance to completely heal. But he always credited his father with instilling in him a strong work ethic and never blamed him for wanting his son to choose a pragmatic path to a realistic career.
A Tragic Ending
Elliott was just 18 years old and very far from stardom when his father died suddenly of a heart attack. So no real closure for the rift between father and son was ever possible. It’s a weight that the actor has carried with him ever since, though he has obviously not allowed it to emotionally cripple him. But the sudden death certainly made him rethink his priorities and he dropped out of college shortly after the event.
Regarding his father’s death and its effect on him, Elliott has been quoted as saying, “He died thinking, ‘Man, this kid is going to go down the wrong path.’ 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
You never know what a kind word or a bit of encouragement can do for a person if he hears it when its most needed. That’s exactly what happened to the young Sam Elliott who was attending college in Vancouver, while appearing in a local production of Guys and Dolls. In its review of the musical, the city newspaper singled out Elliott’s performance, writing that he should become a professional actor.
Sam took the words to heart, and within a few years he had relocated to Hollywood to chase his dream of stardom. Given how far he has come in the years since, this should be a lesson for all of us. The right word spoken to the right person at the right time can turn a person's life around forever. And, unfortunately, the opposite can also be true. So be kind!
Working For A Living
When you think of an unemployed actor taking a job to keep from going broke, the stereotypical choice is to become a waiter. But given Sam’s rugged outdoor upbringing, he was open to other possibilities. While studying acting and between auditions, he worked in construction to make ends meet. California was booming at the time, so if you were willing to do the work, construction jobs were there for the taking.
No doubt his employment choices at that time would affect the acting roles he would become famous for. Tough, strong, and more often than not outdoors. That’s Sam Elliott, alright.
Among the roles Sam Elliott has played over the course of his career have been a number of military men. His tall imposing frame and commanding presence have certainly helped with that. If you were a casting agent, he would seem like a natural choice for a soldier (when he was young) or an officer (in his later years).
But there’s some reality behind the art, too. Around the same time he was in college and working construction, Sam also served a stint in the California Air National Guard. He considers his time in the military to be critical in developing his leadership skills and discipline.
Getting His Start
Despite everything he had going for him, Sam Elliott did not exactly become a Hollywood superstar overnight. He has a modest start in show business with an uncredited role in the Kirk Douglas western 'The Way West'. This was followed with supporting roles in several episodes of the television police procedural Felony Squad. Other minor TV and movie roles would follow over the next couple years.
These early roles would serve as a solid foundation, both in terms of honing his skills as well as getting him noticed by the right people, to take the next step in Elliott’s acting career. The future was looking bright for Sam Elliott.
Big Screen Debut
Sam Elliott’s first notable role in a movie of real significance was still a pretty minor one. The movie was the classic Paul Newman and Robert Redford action western movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The role played by Elliott didn’t even have a name; he was just “Card Player #2”. But it was still a big break for the rising young actor, since the movie was a smash hit and his face was being seen by millions of people.
Coincidentally, one of the leads in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was played by a certain woman named Katharine Ross, who would go on a few years later to be the wife of none other than Sam Elliott. She and Sam shared no scenes in the movie, and wouldn’t really get to know each other for almost another decade before finally marrying in 1984.
Small Roles Continue
As the years went on and the decade turned from the 1960s to the 70s, Sam managed to keep finding steady work in front of Hollywood cameras, but the breakout role that would make him a star never did come his way during that period.
Among the television shows he appeared in during that time were episodes of The F.B.I, Land of the Giants, Bracken’s World, and three episodes of Lancer. He also appeared in the movie The Games.
Blossoming TV Career
While Sam didn’t stop auditioning for movie roles, and occasionally landing some nice supporting roles, most of his work in this period was in television. And his roles started to get juicier too. He had a recurring role for 13 episodes of Mission: Impossible. And then in 1974 he got a big break playing the title role in the biographical TV film Evel Knievel.
From 1976 to 1977, Elliott was a the top of his early career playing the lead role in the seven-part miniseries Once an Eagle, based on the bestselling war novel.
You read a few pages ago that Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross both appeared in 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Ross was one of the stars, but the unknown Elliott had little more than a cameo, and the two shared no scenes. Almost a decade later in 1978 they co-starred in the 1978 horror movie The Legacy.
The Legacy was a turning point for Sam in more ways than one. It was his first starring role in a major motion picture, and he also started dating his lovely costar. Before long, Hollywood would be hearing wedding bells.
Years later it would come out that Sam Elliot was smitten by Katharine Ross way back on the set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969. It seems almost unimaginable given Elliot’s preternatural confidence and charisma, but he had actually been too afraid to make the first move back then. It can be a lesson for all of us; if someone as ruggedly handsome and magnetic as Sam Elliott is too afraid to approach a woman, what hope to the rest of us have? On second thought, maybe that’s not such a good lesson.
After many years had passed, Sam would say of their first meeting from afar, “I didn’t dare try to talk to her then. She was the leading lady. I was a shadow on the wall, a glorified extra in a bar scene.”
Showing Off His Assets
Working on The Legacy proved to be a game changer for Sam in more ways than one. It was his first leading role in a major film. It was where he meaningfully met the woman he would eventually marry. And it was the first time he ever exposed his buttocks on screen. “The Bare Facts”, a printed guide to nudity in film, gave his “performance” three out of three stars.
You often hear about women actors having to “bare it all” for a big career break. Men, not so much. But it seems like there’s an exception to every rule. One wonders what Katharine might have had to say, or think, about millions of people looking at her paramour’s butt.
Katharine Fell For Him
The world wonders: what made Katharine fall in love with her The Legacy costar? Was it his rugged good looks? His deep voice? His straight-shooting personality. The mustache?? What was the clincher for her? On that point, Ross has been particularly reticent. All she would say is, “Probably all that and more. We were working together and one thing led to another”.
In truth, it’s often hard to pinpoint what makes one person love another. A person is a package. And love can be triggered by a complicated combination of factors. So it is eminently believable that “all that and more” is what did it for Katharine.
Sam and Katharine’s budding romance faced a major hurdle at the beginning: the fact that Katharine was still officially married to movie set technician Gaetano Lisi at the time. Their marriage was already on the rocks and headed for divorce, but still, it was controversial for her to be involved with Elliott at that time.
After Ross and Lisi’s divorce was finalized it freed her and Elliott to pursue their relationship more deeply and openly. This was in fact the fourth divorce for Katharine, though Sam had never been married.
Not Interested In Being A Sex Symbol
As both Sam’s and Katharine’s professional careers and their love life seemed to be on their way up, it led to a lot of not necessarily welcome attention from the tabloids. This wasn’t helped by Sam’s infamous “mooning” scene in The Legacy. The two of them were even featured on the cover of Playgirl magazine in October 1979, when they were dubbed “Hollywood’s Sexiest Couple”. Bye bye privacy; hello notoriety.
So all of a sudden, Sam is a sex symbol. “There’s a great stigma that goes with that tag. I want to be Sam Elliott,” he said. A lot of people would have welcomed the attention, but not Sam. He wanted to be known for his work, not his butt or his love life.
Unable To Film
A juicy role that audiences missed out on seeing Sam Elliott perform was the lead in the 1982 TV movie The Ambush Murders. The movie tells the true story of a black activist wrongfully sent to prison for the murder of two white police officers and the lawyer who takes his case and tries to get him set free. The case captured the nation’s attention in the 1970s and people were looking forward to a movie dramatizing the events.
Sam Elliott was cast in the lead role as the defence lawyer, but became sick early during production and in the end James Brolin was brought in to replace him. No big deal; it’s the sort of thing that happens all the time. But one wonders how different it could have been with the original star.
Tying The Knot
Sam and Katharine dated for around six years before finally making it official in 1984. Sam had never been married before, but for Kate it was actually her fifth marriage. Hard to believe that what would appear to be such a mismatch of experiences would go on to become one of Hollywood's longest lasting and most stable and loving marriages.
That same year they happy couple welcomed their first and only child into the world: daughter Cleo Rose Elliott. They were on their way to what everyone might have assumed would be happily ever after.
Almost Passed On Mask
The role that would finally break Sam Elliott into mainstream stardom was in the film Mask alongside Oscar winning actress (and Grammy winning singer) Cher. He played the gruff but kind hearted biker romantically involved with Cher and helping to raise her disabled son. But Sam almost missed out on the role of a lifetime. He was honeymooning in Hawaii when his agent called him to tell him about the opportunity.
Elliot said he wouldn’t be able to get back to California on time to do a screen test. It looked like just one more missed opportunity, one that nobody would ever know the magnitude of.
Wifey Knows Best
But Sam’s wife Kate proved to be the wise one in this situation. When she found out that Sam had decided against going to the screen test, she took matters into her own hands. She called his agent and informed him that Sam would be there come hell or high water. Kate’s initiative would prove to be crucial to establishing her husband as a major actor of note in mainstream big budget Hollywood movies. He not only held his own alongside Cher, who was at the peak of her career as an actress (not to mention one of the most famous singers of all time), but probably even managed to steal a few scenes.
The Los Angeles Times had the following to say about Elliott’s breakthrough performance: “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 Cowboy’s Life
Even though Sam Elliott has had a rich and varied career playing all sorts of roles in all kinds of movies, it’s no exaggeration to say that he has been intimately linked with the Western genre almost since the beginning. His height, his rugged good looks, his outdoor upbringing have all helped mold his appeal to that most manly and tough of stereotypes.
Just a small selection of some of the more notable Western films in which he’s starred includes Tombstone, The Quick and the Dead, The Hi-Lo Country, You Know My Name, and The Desperate Trail. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum honored Elliott’s career by inducting him into their Hall of Great Western Performers in 2007.
Where Sam Got His Work Ethic
There really aren’t too many Hollywood stars that share Sam Elliott’s combination of outdoors ruggedness and powerful work ethic. A person doesn’t grow up in a vacuum, and these sorts of traits don’t come out of nowhere. So we need to look at Sam’s upbringing to decode the mystery of how he got to be such a hard working tough guy. Luckily, he hasn’t exactly been reticent about how he got this way.
According to Sam, he grew up hanging out around his father and his father’s friends “who were all men’s men and outdoorsmen”. Looks like in this case it was at least as much nurture as nature to make Elliott turn out the way he did.
The Evolution Of Sam’s Voice
It’s no wonder Sam Elliott gets so much voiceover and narration work. His deep resonant baritone voice is very powerful. His costar from The Ranch Ashton Kutcher even said that as far as he’s concerned, Elliott ought to narrate “everything”. But if you look at some of his early roles, you’ll see that even though he always had a deep voice, it wasn’t that deep. Not like it is now.
According to Sam, “It came with age. It just kept going down the older I got”. So if you’re hoping for a job narrating Coen Brothers movies, or whatever, you have hope. Just keep getting older!
Sam’s Secret To Longevity
If you want to live a long time, you need to be picky about what you eat. And if you want longevity in an acting career, especially in Hollywood, you need to be picky about the roles you take. That has certainly been Sam Elliott’s strategy to remain popular and relevant decade after decade. He has often warned other actors and actresses that if they are willing to take any role that’s offered them they risk personal burnout and audience disinterest.
Sam has been quoted as saying, “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”.
Almost Didn’t Play Wade Garrett
Road House is a movie that gets no respect, but it’s either a secret pleasure or a guilty pleasure for millions of people if home video sales are any indication. Face it: it’s a fun movie. And it helped introduce Sam Elliott to a whole new generation. His role of Wade Garrett is a sort of guru or mentor for the lead Patrick Swayze character.
Sam was originally slated to play the head bad guy Brad Wesley, but he really didn’t connect to that role. When he was offered the Garrett role, he snapped it up, and the rest is B-movie history.
The Big Lebowski
The narrator the classic movie The Big Lebowski was described in the script to be like this: “the voice-over sounds not unlike Sam Elliott”. And the on-screen role was described in the script this way: “like a drugstore cowboy, looking not unlike Sam Elliott”. This may seem odd, but you will never find bigger movie fans than writer-director pair the Coen brothers. So it may come as no surprise that the role in that ended up going to Sam was described in such a precise way.
If there’s one thing that Sam has proven over and over in his career, it’s that he can make even a minor supporting role memorable. That was certainly the case with his unforgettable performance in the Coen brothers’ memorable movie.
On To Another Big Role
The Big Lebowski was not only a significant role for Sam Elliott in its own right, but also directly led to yet another career high point. Writer/Director Rod Lurie had just completed the script for The Contender and had cast Jeff Bridges as the American president. Lurie had enjoyed the on-screen relationship between Bridges and Elliott in The Big Lebowski and wanted to recreate it in his movie by casting Sam as the president’s Chief of Staff.
The casting decision was a little controversial because of Sam’s association with westerns, whereas The Contender was a modern-day political drama. But that was exactly the reason Sam was eager to accept the role. It was a welcome chance to stretch his acting muscles. And after the fact, nobody had anything but praise for his performance.
Serious Family Drama
A sad but inescapable part of reality is that all the professional success in the world will not shield you from family troubles. And Sam Elliott has had his share. In 2011 his wife Katharine was stabbed with a pair of scissors by Cleo, their 26 year old daughter, who had also threatened to kill her mother at that time. Katharine was forced to file a restraining order against her daughter, and the court agreed to order Cleo to remain a minimum of 100 yards from her mother.
Lots of families go through crises like this, and most pass through them unscathed in the long term. It’s one of the disadvantages fame that such events have to take place in the public eye.
Like many family crises, this too was temporary, including the restraining order. Mother Katharine and daughter Cleo both chose not to show up at court on the appointed extension date, so it was automatically thrown out. Ever since, the two of them alongside husband/daddy Sam have been working to build a family relationship that is both stronger and healthier than ever before.
Today Cleo resides in California where she is a professional musician and model. She writes songs, sings, and plays guitar.
The Mustache Man
There’s no question that one of Sam Elliott’s most distinguishing features -- maybe even the most! -- is his mustache. Sure, he’s been clean shaven in a few movies, especially back in the 1960s and 70s, but for the past 30 or 40 years, he’s virtually never seen without the thick impressive ‘stache. He was even an inaugural inductee into the International Mustache Hall of Fame back in 2015!
Oh the horror of being judged by your physical appearance! Poor Sam Elliott. Isn’t it what’s inside that counts? But I’m sure he has a good personality.
Anyone who knows anything about Sam Elliott sees that his Hollywood career is inextricably linked with Westerns. Obviously, it has a lot to do with his impressive physique and bold attitude that lend themselves to that tough-guy genre. But there’s more to it than that. There is also some significant and poignant family history behind Sam’s love of the Old West.
“My family had a relative in the Alamo,” Elliott has been quoted as saying. “I’ve got history in Texas.” The Battle of the Alamo, though it was a defeat, was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution that resulted in The Republic of Texas gaining independence from Mexico.
He Can Do It All
There is no doubting that professionally Sam Elliott is an actor above all else. And a fine one too. But that is by no means the whole story of his Hollywood career. He has, at times, dabbled in production, writing, and even, on at least one memorable occasion, singing. Sam is a true Renaissance man!
Elliott produced 18 episodes of the Netflix series The Ranch, in which he also stars. He also sang a cover of the Tom Petty song “I Won’t Back Down” for the 2006 hit animated feature Barnyard, a film which prominently featured his voice work.
Love That Lasts
In the beginning, fans and friends could be forgiven for expressing a healthy dose of skepticism over the long term prospects of a relationship between Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross. Ross had, after all, already been married four times before she got together with Elliott. She was even still married to her fourth husband when she and Sam started dating. But history has proven the doubters wrong. After an amazing 33 years, their love and marriage are stronger than ever!
Elliott doesn’t deny that they have had problems at times; he merely says that when they arise, the two of them work at solving them. “We have a common sensibility, but we also work at being together”, is how he puts it.
He’s Got It All
There can be no happiness in life without gratitude, and Sam Elliott displays both in abundance. “The two things that I wanted in my life were to have a movie career and to be married, to have a family,” Sam has said. “And it’s an embarrassment of riches that I’ve got both.” He started out building a successful acting career in the cut-throat Hollywood system. But when he met the love of his life, he didn’t let his career get in his way of finding true meaningful happiness.
Of course, with his beautiful and beloved wife at his side, his career has only gone from strength to strength in the meantime. And with an equally beautiful and loving daughter at his other side, an “embarrassment of riches” is no exaggeration.
What’s He Worth?
It’s not all about money, but money is not insignificant either. And when discussing Hollywood stars, a little healthy curiosity about net worth is to be expected. The words is that Sam Elliot’s net worth is in the neighborhood of $16 million. It would not be out of place to say that he has worked harder for his money that many wealthier Hollywood superstars.
The bulk of his wealth has obviously come from his acting work. But significant earnings can be traced to his voice-over and narration work. He also owns a number of properties in various parts of the US.
Sam’s Secret Trick
Sam Elliott’s career began during the time when the Hollywood monopoly-like studio system was still very much in control of every aspect of production, including the acting talent. He and fellow western legend Tom Selleck started out in the business together and have been friends ever since. The worked the secretaries and the folks at the Fox Studios law office in order to get first glance at any promising new scripts.
If anything caught his imagination, Sam would then contact casting agents directly to try to get the part. Nothing to be ashamed of, you gotta do what you can to get ahead in a very tough business.
Notable Voice Role
It’s no secret that one of the keys to Sam Elliott’s success and longevity in Hollywood has been his deep powerful baritone voice. His voice has earned him one of his lower profile roles, but he has been performing it regularly for over a decade: the voice of Smokey Bear. Yes, the public service announcements telling you “Only you can prevent wildfires” are voiced by none other than Sam Elliott.
Having grown up with his father who worked for the Fish & Wildlife Service made it a natural choice for him, not to mention how perfect his voice is for the job. It’s also a useful public service that helps to keep the country’s natural spaces safe and beautiful.
Always A Perfectionist
After the decades of success that Sam Elliott has enjoyed in the challenging and competitive Hollywood world, you might think that he would have a pretty high opinion of his skills and prowess. But it has by no means always been that way. He is often critical of his own performances, and sometimes even regrets not being able to go back and do it over again better. This is particularly true of his earlier roles.
Sam has expressed regret over not having had more formal acting training in his youth, saying that if he had, he “might have been a more interesting actor”. Hard to imagine him being any more interesting, but it’s a credit to his integrity that he would even say such a thing in public.
As we learned earlier, Sam Elliott is very picky about which roles he will accept, crediting his pickiness with his longevity in Hollywood. But his creative control actually goes deeper than that. He has on occasion assisted in rewriting screenplays when necessary, and has not backed down when he felt the need to disagree with a director.
In describing his willingness to clash with the powers that be, Sam has said, “I’d rather be a pain in the ass and make better art”. Hard to argue with that logic.
Sam’s Love For Westerns
It’s been said before that Sam Elliot’s decades-long association with the genre of western movies has been due to many factors. Among them are his height, his commanding physical presence, and his deep powerful baritone voice. Yes, his mustache hasn’t exactly hurt either. And of course there is his outdoor upbringing and a father who worked for the US Fish & Wildlife Service. But there’s also something else that has drawn Sam to this near-mythical world.
“I think it has something to do with integrity and a man’s word and honor and all that kind of stuff,” Elliot said. “Values, morality, all that kind of stuff that everybody looks kind of down their nose at”. Amen, Sam. Nobody could have said it better.
The Reason He Did It
We know that Sam Elliott’s father never approved of his choice to pursue acting as a career. And yet he has indicated that his father was a major reason behind his decision. It’s not easy trying to do something that you think will make someone happy and facing rejection for that very thing. One can only imagine the burden Sam has been carrying since his father’s sudden death when Sam was just 18 and not yet successful.
“That’s the worst part of it,” Sam said. “When you don’t think your dad’s proud of you.” He said that many of his other hobbies, like fishing, found favor in his father’s eyes, but not his choice of career.
What’s Sam Up To?
What’s been keeping Sam Elliott busy the last few years? For starters, he not only starred in the Netflix series The Ranch, but also produced 18 episodes. He had a starring role in 2017’s The Hero alongside his wife Katharine in a role written especially for him. His performance in the 2018 smash A Star is Born has been critically acclaimed and has been nominated for numerous awards.
Sam’s wife Katharine, who was a huge star in the 1960s and 70s, has been working less over the last few years, but is still far from retired. She recently completed filming a performance in the upcoming comedy Attachments.
When Sam is asked about his favorite movie project, instead of answering in terms of movie or role, he prefers to talk about the crew and work conditions instead. The way he likes to put it is,“I think what I remember most about films are the people rather than the films themselves”. And as far as that’s concerned, his best on set experience has been on The Hero.
Sam says the cast and crew of The Hero were a dream to work with, and that the whole project was a “labor of love”. One would hope so, given that the role -- indeed, the whole movie -- was written just for Sam.
Fits Just Right
You know how sometimes something fits so perfectly, it’s like it was meant to be? Well that was certainly the case with Sam Elliott and the role of Lee Hayden in The Hero. The writer and director of the movie, Brett Haley, had enjoyed working with Sam so much in their previous movie I’ll See You in My Dreams, that he created this entire movie just for him.
It’s not every day that an actor has a movie made to order for him. And as successful and respected as Sam has been, he’s certainly not an A-level superstar. So this was a rare and beautiful event for which he felt “totally flattered”. The movie itself was a beloved and acclaimed success.
His Biggest Influences
“To be honest with you I think my parents made the biggest difference in my life,” Sam Elliott has said. “[My father] was a man’s man, and that rubbed off on me. My mom has always been completely supportive of my work”. These are not your typical Hollywood responses. One might expect mention of some awesome mentor such as an older actor who took him under his wing or a director who gave him a chance. Instead we see a more personal and human attitude.
Anyone who has ever known Sam Elliott sees that he has never looked at the world through the eyes of a jaded Hollywood star. That intimate sense of solid realness has played no small part in giving him the career and life he has had.
Doesn’t Feel Typecast
“I think there’s a real truth to Westerns and a real simplicity to them that appeals to people”. These are not the words of a man who feels trapped or typecast as a one-dimensional cowboy. Sam Elliott sees the Western genre as a valid and very human form of cinematic artistic expression, and one that really speaks to him.
And why not? Crime, comedy, romance, war are all movie genres that have included indisputable classics. And the Western is no different. The entire human condition, in the right hands, can be portrayed on the screen.
It’s Not All About The Money
Who doesn’t like money? In that sense, Sam Elliott is no different from anyone else. But he does not put money at the center of his life. As for his voiceover work that he is so well known for (especially in commercials), he actually says he enjoys it because it’s easy and it gives him the financial security and freedom to be as picky as he wants to be about the movie roles he accepts. And it is that pickiness that he credits for his Hollywood longevity, as we’ve read before.
As a matter of fact, Sam often advises younger actors to avoid the temptation of accepting a job just for the money. He himself was forced to do that a few times when he was young, struggling, unknown, and poor. But it was never the path he had planned for himself, the path he has walked ever since.
His Thoughts On Katharine’s Career
Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross have been married for well over three decades at this point, and after all these years they remain a source of inspiration and a model to all of us of a healthy happy successful marriage. It’s notable that at the beginning of their relationship, she was a huge star, with leading roles in The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid alongside Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Sam, by comparison, was a less well known character actor. But over they years, his career has grown while Katharine, though still a well known and successful actress, is not nearly as prominent in the business as she was then.
To explain his wife’s career trajectory, Sam has said that she is not as hungry for the roles as she should be, that she doesn’t “chase it” so to speak. He believes that she deserves bigger and better things in - Hollywood. An he’s certainly right about that.
Beef’s For Dinner
If you own a television, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you have been hearing Sam Elliot’s velvet baritone speaking to you for years, even if you haven’t seen his face. Among the notable voice-over work he has done is a series of ads for the beef industry over a number of years. If you recognize the tag line, “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner,” then you probably know Sam’s voice.
He agreed to do the ads as a way of helping out the hard-working ranchers and others in the industry. But he grew tired of the advertising agency’s increasingly demanding attitude and eventually moved on to greener pastures, so to speak.
Sam’s Seen Changes
After five decades in front of the screen, it goes without saying that Sam Elliott has witnessed some changes in how movies are made. Not everything is different, of course. Human nature, the need to memorize lines and act them out, and much more. “There are some constants that are never going to change”, he has said. Still, when asked what is the biggest change of all, Sam doesn’t hesitate to answer that it’s the technology.
“Changes that have been made in the technological world have revolutionized the movie business on almost every level,” Sam has said. It’s most obvious in the field of special effects, but it pervades every part of production of every kind of movie. From the guts of the camera to the size and placement of the microphone, to the tools available in the editing room. Everything has changed.
Focusing On Each Day
Sam Elliott has never been one to dwell on the past. He is also not inclined to obsess about the future and what his legacy will be to future generations of movie watchers. Rather, he is a great believer of living in the present and giving due attention to whatever tasks are before him right now. It’s not only a healthy attitude, but also the one most likely to lead to the very legacy others would be so obsessed with.
“It’s hard work, but it’s a creative, artistic process,” Elliott has been known to say. “And if you can’t enjoy that, then you’re going about it wrong.” Hard to imagine a healthier attitude than that.
Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck have a lot in common. They started out in Hollywood together at the same time. They both have had careers closely linked with the Western genre. And of course they have two of the most prominent mustaches in Hollywood history. Not only does Sam get asked about his ‘stache all the time, but he even has to contend with the question of an alleged mustache rivalry between him and Tom. But is it true? And if it is, who’s the winner? You gotta hand it to Sam for even dignifying the question with an answer, and for keeping it diplomatic.
“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,” Elliott has said. But he couldn’t resist a tiny little nod to his own ego: “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
Sam Elliot’s latest project may be his biggest success to date, and it’s been half a century in coming. The rumor mill has been going overtime that he’ll be getting some serious nominations for some serious awards when award season comes around. The movie is a remake of the classic A Star is Born, and stars Bradley Cooper (who also directed and co-wrote the movie) and Lady Gaga in the leading roles.
Sam has a prominent supporting role as the brother and manager of Cooper’s character. He described the making of the film as an “amazing experience” and has lavished praise on the Cooper and Gaga for their undeniable acting skills.