Sam Elliott

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Sam Elliott
Sam Elliot.jpg
Elliott at the Veterans Day Ceremonies at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, November 2001
Born Samuel Pack Elliott
(1944-08-09) August 9, 1944 (age 71)
Sacramento, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names Kyle Peterson
Education Clark College
Alma mater Cal State LA
Occupation Actor
Years active 1968–present
Spouse(s) Katharine Ross
Children 1

Samuel Pack "Sam" Elliott (born August 9, 1944) is an American actor. His rangy physique, thick horseshoe moustache, deep, resonant voice, and Western drawl lend to frequent casting as cowboys and ranchers.[1] His other credits over the years have included playing Marvel Comics characters General Ross in Hulk (2003) and The Caretaker in Ghost Rider (2007), as well as the "Stranger" in 1998's The Big Lebowski.

Early life[edit]

Sam Elliott was born in Sacramento, California,[2] to a physical training instructor mother and a father who worked for the Department of the Interior.[3] He moved from California to Oregon with his family during his teenage years, where he graduated from David Douglas High School in Portland. He attended Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, where he completed a two-year program and was cast as one of the leads in Guys and Dolls. The local newspaper suggested that Elliott should be a professional actor. Soon after, Elliott declared he was going to Hollywood to become a star. Elliott is a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Cal State LA. He worked in construction while studying acting in Los Angeles and served in the California Army National Guard. Elliott also lived for a short time in Princeton, West Virginia.[4]

Elliott has a family heritage from Texas—with a relative who was in the Battle of the Alamo.[1]


Elliott began his career as a character actor; his appearance, voice, and bearing were well-suited to Westerns. One of his first film roles was as 'Card Player #2' in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).

In the 1970–71 television season, Sam Elliott starred as Doug Robert in the hit TV series Mission: Impossible, and played the lead character Sam Damon in Once an Eagle, an NBC miniseries during the 1976–77 season. He played Tom Keating in the mini-series Aspen in 1977. He had the starring role as Rick Carlson in the summer hit sleeper Lifeguard (1976). In 1979, he played the oldest brother in the made-for-TV miniseries The Sacketts, also starring Tom Selleck, Ben Johnson, Slim Pickens, Glenn Ford, Ruth Roman, Mercedes McCambridge, Jack Elam, and Gilbert Roland. He later played a wife killer in the miniseries Murder in Texas (1981) and A Death in California (1985). Elliott's breakthrough came with his supporting role in Mask (1985) when he co-starred with Cher. He has made guest appearances on shows such as Felony Squad, Gunsmoke, Lancer, and Hawaii Five-O and has been featured in many TV movies, including Prancer (1989) and Buffalo Girls (1995) in which he played Wild Bill Hickok. In 1986 he starred in a TV movie Gone to Texas based on a biography of Sam Houston. The role allowed him to play Houston as both fighter and a man who grew into a skillful political leader; the film depicted his disgrace as Governor of Tennessee, his return to his Cherokee Nation friends, and his pivotal role in the liberation of Texas from Mexico in 1836. Elliott played Wade Garrett in Road House (1989) with Patrick Swayze and played Virgil Earp in Tombstone (1993), which starred Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer. In 1998, Elliot was named the grand marshal of the Calgary Stampede parade and rode in the procession before an estimated 300,000 spectators.[citation needed]

Elliott co-starred in We Were Soldiers, which is based on the book We Were Soldiers Once… And Young, portraying Sgt. Maj. Basil L. Plumley. He portrayed General John Buford in the 1993 film Gettysburg. He played General Thunderbolt Ross in the 2003 film Hulk.

Elliott played "The Stranger", a character narrating the story of The Big Lebowski (1998). In 2005 he appeared in Thank You for Smoking, as a former Marlboro Man advertisement cowboy who has developed lung cancer. Elliot joined Nicolas Cage in 2007 in the comic book adaptation Ghost Rider, and stood out in another film that same year, in The Golden Compass as Lee Scoresby. In 2009, Elliott had a small role in Up In The Air in which he portrayed the Chief Pilot of American Airlines. He has appeared three times on Parks and Recreation as Ron Dunn, the Eagleton equivalent of Ron Swanson; Ron Dunn is a hippie, compared to Swanson's staunch survivalist-Libertarian personality. He has a supporting role in the film The Company You Keep and played a college football coach in 2014's Draft Day.

In 2015, Elliott played the role of Karl, Lily Tomlin's former flame, in Paul Weitz's film, Grandma.[5] He played opposite Blythe Danner in the romance I'll See You in My Dreams, and had a role in the independent film Digging for Fire.[6]

In 2015, he won the Critics' Choice Television Award for best guest performer in a drama for his role in the FX Network's show Justified.[6]

Voice acting[edit]

Elliott has performed voice-over narration for various commercials. He has lent his voice to campaigns for Dodge, IBM, Kinney Drugs, Union Pacific, and, most notably, the American Beef Council, succeeding Robert Mitchum in the latter. Since late 2007, Elliott has done voice-overs for Coors beer, bringing his deep, rich voice and "western" appeal to the brand brewed in Colorado. In 2010, Ram Trucks hired Elliott to do the voice-over for their Ram Heavy Duty truck commercial; he has been voicing their commercials since. He is also the new voice for Smokey Bear ("Only YOU can prevent wildfires"), and shares the mascot's birth date (August 9, 1944). For animated films, Elliott lent his voice to "Ben the Cow" in Barnyard, "Buster" (a.k.a. Chupadogra) in Marmaduke and Butch in The Good Dinosaur. He also narrated the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers team introductions to Super Bowl XLV—played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, at the conclusion of the 2010 NFL season—for Fox Sports.

Personal life[edit]

Elliott married actress Katharine Ross in 1984. Although Ross starred in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, in which Elliott had a very small role, the two did not meet and begin dating until 1978 when they both starred with Roger Daltrey in The Legacy. The couple have a daughter, Cleo Rose Elliott,[7] born in 1984, who is now a musician in Malibu.[8][9]



Year Title Role Notes
1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Card Player #2
1970 The Games Richie Robinson
1972 Frogs Pickett Smith
1972 Molly and Lawless John Johnny Lawler
1975 I Will Fight No More Forever Captain Wood
1976 Lifeguard Rick Carlson
1978 Legacy, TheThe Legacy Pete Danner
1985 Mask Gar
1986 Gone to Texas Sam Houston
1986 Blue Lightning, TheThe Blue Lightning Harry Wingate
1987 The Quick and the Dead Con Vallian
1987 Fatal Beauty Mike Marshak
1988 Shakedown Richie Marks Also titled "Blue Jean Cop"
1989 Road House Wade Garrett
1989 Prancer John Riggs
1990 Sibling Rivalry Charles Turner Jr.
1991 Rush Dodd
1993 Tombstone Virgil Earp
1993 Gettysburg Brigadier General John Buford
1995 The Final Cut John Pierce
1995 The Desperate Trail Bill Speakes
1996 Dog Watch Charlie Falon
1996 Adventures of Mowgli Kaa English voice
1998 Big Lebowski, TheThe Big Lebowski The Stranger
1998 Hi-Lo Country, TheThe Hi-Lo Country Jim Ed Love
2000 Contender, TheThe Contender Kermit Newman
2001 Pretty When You Cry Detective Lukas Black
2002 We Were Soldiers Sergeant Major Basil L. Plumley
2003 Hulk General Thadeus Ross
2003 Off the Map Charley
2005 Thank You for Smoking Lorne Lutch
2006 Barnyard Ben the cow Voice only
2006 Alibi, TheThe Alibi The Mormon Also titled "Lies and Alibis"
2007 Ghost Rider The Caretaker / Carter Slade
2007 Golden Compass, TheThe Golden Compass Lee Scoresby
2009 Did You Hear About the Morgans? Clay Wheeler
2009 Up in the Air Maynard Finch Nominated—Critics Choice Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Nominated—WAFCA Award for Best Ensemble
2010 Marmaduke Chupadogra Voice only
2011 Big Bang, TheThe Big Bang Simon Kestral
2012 The Company You Keep Mac McLeod
2014 Draft Day Coach Moore
2015 I'll See You in My Dreams Bill
2015 Grandma Karl
2015 The Gettysburg Address Ward Hill Lamon (voice) Documentary (filming)
2015 The Good Dinosaur Butch Voice only
2016 Rock Dog Fleetwood Yak Voice only


Year Title Role Notes
1968–1969 Felony Squad Numerous 3 episodes
1969 Land of the Giants Martin Reed Episode: "Six Hours to Live"
The F.B.I. SAC Kendall Lisbon) Episode: "The Prey"
Judd, for the Defense Dan Kenyon Episode: "The Crystal Maze"
1969–1970 Lancer Renslo / Canopus / Cowboy 3 episodes
1970 Challenge, TheThe Challenge Bryant Television film
1970–1971 Mission: Impossible Dr. Douglas Robert (Lang) 13 episodes
1971 Assault on the Wayne Ensign William 'Bill' Sandover TV movie
1972 Gunsmoke Cory Soames Episode: "The Wedding"
Mod Squad, TheThe Mod Squad Rick Price Episode: "Good Times Are Just Memories"
Molly and Lawless John Johnny Lawler TV movie
1973 Blue Knight, The Detective Charlie Bronski TV movie
Mannix Bill Saunders Episode: "Little Girl Lost"
Hawkins Luther Wilkes Episode: "Die Die, Darling"
1974 Doc Elliot Lee Barrows Episode: "A Time to Live"
Hawaii Five-O Jack Houston Episode: "The Two-Faced Corpse"
Evel Knievel Evel Knievel TV movie
Manhunter, TheThe Manhunter Will Gantry Episode: "The Ma Gantry Gang"
Streets of San Francisco, TheThe Streets of San Francisco Ken Johnson Episode: "The Hard Breed"
1975 Police Woman Michael Gregory Episode: "Farewell, Mary Jane"
1976–1977 Once an Eagle Sam Damon 7 episodes (miniseries)
1977 Aspen Tom Keating TV movie
1979 Sacketts, TheThe Sacketts Tell Sackett TV movie
1980 Wild Times Hugh Cardiff 2 episodes
1981 Murder in Texas Dr. John Hill TV movie
1982 Shadow Riders, TheThe Shadow Riders Dal Traven TV movie
1983 Yellow Rose, TheThe Yellow Rose Chance McKenzie 22 episodes
Travis McGee Travis McGee TV movie
1985 A Death in California D. Jordan Williams 2 episodes (miniseries)
1986 Gone to Texas Sam Houston TV movie. Also titled "Houston: The Legend of Texas"
1987 Quick and the Dead, TheThe Quick and the Dead Con Vallian TV movie
1988 The World's Greatest Stunts: A Tribute to Hollywood Stuntmen Himself Documentary
1991 Conagher Conn Conagher Nominated—Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor—TV Film
He also produced and helped co-write the script.
1993 Fugitive Nights: Danger in the Desert Lyn Cutter TV movie
1993 The Making of "Gettysburg" Himself/"Brig. Gen. John Buford, Federal" Documentary (On the making of the film Gettysburg)
1995 The Ranger, the Cook and a Hole in the Sky Bill Bell TV movie
Buffalo Girls Wild Bill Hickok TV movie
Nominated—Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor—Movie
Nominated—Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor—TV Film
Blue River Henry Howland TV movie
The Way West Voice Documentary
1996 Woman Undone Ross Bishop TV movie
1997 Rough Riders Capt. Bucky O'Neill TV movie
1997 Big Guns Talk: The Story of the Western Himself Documentary
1998 Texarkana N/A TV movie
1999 You Know My Name Bill Tilghman TV movie
2000 Fail Safe Congressman Raskob TV movie
2001 The Contender: The Making of a Political Thriller Himself Documentary (short)
2002 We Were Soldiers: Getting It Right Himself/Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley Documentary (short)
2002 The Making of "Tombstone" Himself/"Virgil Earp" Documentary (short)
2003 Hulk: The Lowdown Co-Host Documentary
2004 Anatomy of a Scene Himself Documentary; episode: "Off the Map"
2006 Avenger Calvin Dexter TV movie
2010 November Christmas Jess Sanford TV movie
2012 Robot Chicken Various Episode: "Hurtled from a Helicopter into a Speeding Train"
2013–2015 Parks and Recreation Ron Dunn 3 episodes
2015 Justified Avery Markham 12 episodes
Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series


  1. ^ a b Harris, Aisha (2 February 2015). "Sam Elliott On Being the Hollywood Embodiment of the Old West". Slate. Retrieved 23 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "Movies & TV: Sam Elliott Biography". New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
    • a "Birthplace: Sacramento, California, USA"—¶ 1.
  3. ^ "Sam Elliott Biography (1944-)". 1944-08-09. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  4. ^ "Sam Elliot Biography". Perfect People. 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-22. 
  5. ^ Murphy, Mekado (19 August 2015). "‘Grandma’ (With Movie Trailer): Paul Weitz Narrates a Scene". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Buckley, Cara (12 August 2015). "Sam Elliott, a Leading Man Again at 71, No Cowboy Hat Required". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2015. 
  7. ^ "Katharine Ross". People. 4 May 1992. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  8. ^ Magruder, Melonie (31 December 2008). "Straight from her heart". Malibu Times. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  9. ^ "'Cleo:". Daily Mail. 12 March 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 

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