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March 19

Tea and Truths on Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross’ Love Story

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Amidst the glaring light of Hollywood stardom, Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross found their way to each other. They got married in 1984 and raised their only child, Cleo Rose Elliott. 

The couple met in 1978 as co-stars in the film called “The Legacy (1978).” It’s a horror film featuring a cursed ancestral English estate. They played Margaret Walsh and Pete Danner, a pair who experiences the sinister countryside property of a dying man.

That’s when they first mutually knew each other. However, Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross already worked on a film beforehand. 

Back when Elliott was just a budding actor, he worked with Ross in the 1969 film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” 

Yet, The Ranch star was a yellow belly back then. He didn’t speak to Ross (Etta Place), who was the leading lady of that film. Meanwhile, Elliott was only a “glorified extra in a bar scene,” as he told AARP The Magazine in a 2015 interview.

It took almost a decade for them to cross paths again. If Elliot started a conversation with “The Graduate (1967)” star back in 1969, nothing much would happen between them. Because during this time, Ross was still happily married to her third husband, Conrad Hall. 

Controversial Beginnings

​At the time when Ross and Elliott met again as co-stars, Ross was just coming out of a divorce from her fourth husband, Gaetano Lisi. They were married from 1974 to 1979.

When Elliot and Ross decided to get together, rumors surrounded their relationship. Speculations emerged on whether Ross had feelings to Elliot back when they were filming together in London.

Evidently, the stars aligned for Ross and Elliott in the end. As tea spilled and after four failed marriages occurred, Ross settled with Elliot as his first wife. 

The couple got married in 1984, seven years after they met. A year later, Ross bore their first and only child, Cleo Rose.

In a 2015 interview with Mercury News, Ross agreed that she was attracted to her husband’s signature mustache and baritone voice. Nevertheless, she also insisted that it was “probably all that and more.” She further explained that they were only co-workers and one thing led to another. 

36 years later, the two Oscar-nominees remain stronger together. 

Their mutual passion for acting and making great films persists to be the center of their lasting marriage. As Elliott told Los Angeles Times, “having that creative experience together is the best.” He led on to say that going home to someone you’re working with is truly a positive experience.

Ross led Elliott to his breakout role

A little later after they got married, Ross and Elliott were basking in love during the honeymoon in Hawaii. 

When still on the island, the newly-cuffed Elliot received the news that he would be part of Cher’s movie. He’s the motorcycle-riding love interest in the 1985 film “Mask.” The actor wanted to let go of the role, citing that it came to him on a “bad timing,” as he told New York Times.

However, Ross stepped in and called back on her husband’s behalf, saying he would be on the set on time. 

While Elliott didn’t bag any awards for playing Gar in the film, he received critical attention from many big names in the industry.

Without knowing, Ross nudged Elliot to his breakout role, setting the next most celebrated years of her fifth husband’s career. Elliott would later be known for his signature cowboy roles, with his mustache in place and a shooting iron on hand.

Elliott and Ross together on the big screen

Since 1969, Elliott and Ross have worked together in nine movies. They appeared together in “Murder in Texas (1981),” “The Shadow Riders (1982),” and “Conagher (1991),” among others. 

Their most recent silver screen appearance together was in the 2017 film “The Hero.” It’s a comedy-drama film that stars Sam Elliott (Lee Hayden). His real-life wife played his on-screen ex-spouse (Valarie Hayden).

Elliott and Ross and their family life

Elliott (76) and Ross (86) spend their days between their residences in Oregon and California. Their now-grown only child, Cleo Rose (36), also leads a life of her own as a musician.

“Marriage is work, but it’s worth it,” Elliott told AARP. He also highlighted that working past their relationship bumps helped them stick together over the years.

Meanwhile, the couple is still slated to appear in movies. But, they noted that the choices for roles get narrower over the years. That’s how they find more vacant times to spend with each other now, which is kind of the point in growing up together.

In an interview, Ross expressed that she found it ironic how she and Elliott lived 80 miles away before they met. She grew up in Walnut Creek while the “A Star is Born (2018)” actor lived in Sacramento. 

Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross met in London, which is miles away from home, not knowing that they’d be coming home to each other in the years to come. 


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Katharine Ross, Sam Elliott


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