When we think of a cowboy, Sam Elliott surely comes across our mind. With his lanky yet experienced build, impressive mustache, and a deep, resonant voice, he definitely looked like the true representation of a cowboy. In his fifty years of acting, he has always been the top and even the only obvious choice for this type of role.
He may not have a suite of awards in his long acting career, but his performances definitely earned him several nominations including an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, and two Emmys. And more importantly, he won the people making ‘Sam Elliott’ a household name.
Here we listed 10 things that you probably didn’t know about this popular actor from the ’60s.
1. He was born on August 9, 1944 in Sacramento, California.
Samuel Pack Elliott or professionally known as Sam Elliott was born in Sacramento, California on August 9, 1944. Last 2019, the movie star celebrated his 75th birthday. He is the son of high school teacher Glynn Mamie Sparks and predator control specialist Henry Nelson Elliott. Even though he was born in California, Sam has always identified as a Texan as both of his parents were born in the Lone Star State (and the family’s roots even dated way back to the Texas Revolution in 1835).
When he was 13 years old, the family moved to Portland, Oregon. In 1962, he graduated from David Douglas High School then attended the University of Oregon, but he dropped out after two terms. He pursued a degree in Clark College in Vancouver, Canada, where he also graduated.
2. His dad did not approve of his dream of being an actor.
At nine years of age, Sam already knew he wanted to be an actor, but his dad never approved of it. In an interview, Sam said that his father told him that he did not have a snowball’s chance in hell in Hollywood. His dad died at 54 from a heart attack when he was just 18.
Although the two did not have the best relationship, Sam credits his dad for his strong work ethics. His words also motivated him to work harder and made him more focused on his resolve to pursue his acting career.
3. He worked as a construction worker.
While most celebrity backstories featured waiting tables, for Sam it was doing construction works. This job not only earned him extra income but also opened an opportunity for him in acting. He did concrete works for a family friend who turned out to be an assistant director in Hollywood.
One day, he got invited to the set where the family friend worked. Soon, Sam started working in films as well as television shows.
4. He started his acting career back in 1966.
Until now at 76, the movie actor is still active in films and tv shows. His first big-screen appearance was back in 1969 in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Katharine Ross. Sam played an extra as Card Player number 2.
In the early ’70s, his acting career started gaining momentum as he played recurring roles for The felony Squad, Lancer, Once an Eagle, and Mission Impossible. In 1976, he landed a lead role in the Paramount film Lifeguard directed by the late Daniel Petrie. But that didn’t work out well for him as the movie was nothing like he expected it to be. Paramount marketed the film with a catchphrase, ‘Every girl’s summer dream’ and an artwork of him in his Speedo. He ended up never working for Paramount again.
5. He found his true love through acting.
Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross have been together for almost four decades now. Although the couple both acted in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, they only actually met on the set of their 1978 film The Legacy. The two only had one child named Cleo Rose Elliot, who is now a singer and a model.
One of the most memorable stories of their marriage happened during their honeymoon in Hawaii. Sam’s agent called him for an audition but he declined as he did not want to be back that early. But Ross kind of felt that it was an important role, so she called back his agent and told him she would get Sam back in time. And it turned out she was right as he landed the role of Cher’s boyfriend biker in the hit movie Mask.
6. He was honored by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 2018.
After playing a biker in Mask, Sam was offered many more similar roles. He was also typecast as a cowboy, which he came to accept as time passed. He became known for his roles in The Big Lebowski, The Quick and the Dead, Tombstone, and You Know My Name. In an interview with NPR, he said that as he grew old he realized that life serves up what it serves up.
These roles did not just build up a reputation for himself but also earned him recognition. In April 2018, he and his wife were honored by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum at the annual Western Heritage Awards.
7. Beyond the cowboy look, he was also known for his iconic voice.
In 2015, Sam became a mustache Hall-of-Famer alongside Tom Selleck, known for his breakout role as Thomas Magnum in Magnum, P.I. But even before that, in the early 2000s, Sam also made a name in voice acting.
Ever since 2008, he was the voice behind the infamous forest fire mascot Smokey Bear. According to a source, this hit close to home as his wife’s home was burned down in 1978. Coincidentally, the two also shared the same birthday. He was also the voice actor of Ben the Cow in the 2006 animated film Barnyard.
8. He was an actual military man.
Sam Elliott acted in numerous military-themed films and also played military roles himself. And that wasn’t just a role, he was actually a member of the California Air National Guard’s 163rd Airlift Wings out of Channel Islands. In 2002, he was honored by the National Guard Association with the Spirit of America Award.
Elliot mentioned how those years built him up as a man and improved his discipline as well as leadership skills.
9. He got propositioned a lot.
Needless to say, Elliott was a real hit with the ladies during his prime (and probably even until now), especially after his starring role with his now-wife Katharine Ross. In the 1979 cover of Playgirl, the couple was even named as “Hollywood’s Sexiest Couple,” but Elliott did not want that sort of reputation.
But even early in his career, he confessed that he got propositioned a lot from both men and women, which he all declined. Nevertheless, this started rumors about whether Sam was gay. Aside from the fact that he was also observed to have an obsessive attention to his body. Sam never commented on the issue.
10. He did a dance-off with Lil Nas X to Old Town Road in an ad for Cool Ranch Doritos.
While we have seen Sam Elliot act in many iconic Hollywood films, it probably came as a major surprise for many of his fans to see him in the halftime show of the Super Bowl, especially when he did a dance off with Lil Nas X to the tune of Old Town Road which was one of 2019’s most popular songs for a Cool Ranch Doritos ad.
Katharine Ross, Sam Elliott