American actor. His rangy physique, thick horseshoe moustache, and deep, resonant voice (with a Western twang/drawl) match the iconic image of a cowboy or rancher, and he has often been cast in such roles.
Early lifeSam Elliott was born in Sacramento, California, to a physical training instructor mother and a father who worked for the Department of the Interior 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 L.A.. He worked in construction while studying acting in Los Angeles. Elliott also lived for a short time in Princeton, West Virginia.
CareerElliott began his career as a character actor; his appearance and bearing were ideally suited to Westerns. One of his first film roles was as 'Card Player #2' in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).
In 1970-71, 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. 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, among others. He later played a wife killer in the miniseries Murder in Texas (1981) and A Death in California (1985). 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 Buffalo Girls (1995) in which he played Wild Bill Hickok. In 1998, Elliot was named the grand marshal of the Calgary Stampede parade and rode in the procession before 300,000 spectators. He has also starred in Road House (1989) with Patrick Swayze and played Virgil Earp in Tombstone (1993), which starred Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.
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 also played General John Buford in the 1993 film Gettysburg.
Elliott played "The Stranger", a character narrating the story of The Big Lebowski (1998). In 2005 he appeared in Thank You For Smoking where he played a former Marlboro Man advertisement cowboy who has developed lung-cancer. In 2009, Elliott had a small role in Up In The Air in which he portrayed the Captain of an American Airlines jet.
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, Dodge hired Elliott to do the voice-over for their Ram Heavy Duty truck commercial. He is also the new voice for Smokey Bear ("Only YOU can prevent wildfires"). Coincidentally, Elliott and "Smokey" share the same birthday (the U.S. Forest Service recognizes this as Smokey's "birthdate"). He lent his voice to "Buster" (a.k.a. Chupadogra) in Marmaduke (2010). He also narrated the opening of the Super Bowl introductions, in 2011 Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas. He has a supporting role in the forthcoming film The Company You Keep.
Personal lifeElliott married actress Katharine Ross in 1984. Although Ross starred in the 1969 film 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. He and Ross have a daughter, Cleo Rose Elliott, born in 1984, who is now a musician in Malibu. In March 2011, Elliott's wife got a restraining order against Cleo after Cleo allegedly stabbed her repeatedly with a pair of scissors.
Year Title Role Notes
1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Card Player #2
1970 The Challenge Bryant TV movie
1971 Assault on the Wayne Ensign William 'Bill' Sandover TV movie
1972 Molly and Lawless John Johnny Lawler TV movie
Frogs Pickett Smith
1973 The Blue Knight Detective Charlie Bronski TV movie
1974 Evel Knievel Evel Knievel TV movie
1975 I Will Fight No More Forever Captain Wood TV movie
1976 Lifeguard Rick Carlson
Once an Eagle Sam Damon TV miniseries
1977 Aspen Tom Keating TV movie
1978 The Legacy Pete Danner
1979 The Sacketts (TV movie) The Sacketts Tell Sackett TV movie
1980 Wild Times Hugh Cardiff TV movie
1981 Murder in Texas Dr. John Hill TV movie
1982 The Shadow Riders Dal Traven TV movie
1983 The Yellow Rose Chance McKenzie TV series
1983 Travis McGee TV movie
1985 Mask Gar
A Death In California D. Jordan Williams TV miniseries
1986 Gone to Texas Sam Houston TV Movie
1987 Fatal Beauty Mike Marshak
The Quick and the Dead Con Vallian TV movie
1988 Shakedown Richie Marks
Blue Jean Cop Richie Marks
1989 Prancer John Riggs
Road House Wade Garrett
1990 Sibling Rivalry Charles Turner Jr.
1991 Rush Dodd
Conagher Conn Conagher TV movie
1993 Tombstone Virgil Earp
Gettysburg Brigadier General John Buford
Fugitive Nights: Danger in the Desert Lyn Cutter TV movie
1995 Final Cut John Pierce
The Desperate Trail direct to video film
The Ranger, the Cook and a Hole in the Sky Bill Bell TV movie
Buffalo Girls Wild Bill Hickock TV movie
Blue River Henry Howland TV Movie
1996 Dog Watch Charlie Falon direct to video film
Woman Undone Ross Bishop TV movie
1997 Rough Riders Capt. Bucky O'Neil TV movie
1998 The Big Lebowski The Stranger
The Hi-Lo Country Jim Ed Love
Texarkana TV movie
1999 You Know My Name Bill Tilghman TV movie
2000 The Contender Kermit Newman
Fail Safe Congressman Raskob TV movie
2001 Pretty When You Cry Detective Lukas Black
2002 We Were Soldiers Sergeant Major Basil L. Plumley
2003 Hulk General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross
Off the Map Charley
2006 Barnyard: The Original Party Animals Ben the cow voice only
Thank You for Smoking Lorne Lutch
The Alibi The Mormon
Avenger Calvin Dexter TV movie
2007 Ghost Rider The Caretaker / Carter Slade
The Golden Compass Lee Scoresby
2009 Did You Hear About the Morgans? Clay Wheeler
Up in the Air Maynard Finch
2010 Marmaduke Chupadogra voice only
November Christmas Jess Sanford TV movie
2011 The Big Bang Simon Kestral