Sam Elliott – is known for his deep, booming, and distinguished voice, lanky frame, and performances in films. Such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Quick and the Dead. Recently, A Star Is Born and The Hero receives quite recognition for his work throughout his prestigious career. He’s been nominated for an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, two primetime Emmys, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. He shines in every role that he’s given and routinely appears on lists of the greatest actors of our time.
While the world has never doubted his skills, one person, in particular, was never quite sold on his abilities. They say that blood is thicker than water, but in this case, blood was a lot more like vitriolic poison. Because even on his deathbed, Sam Elliott’s father failed to show his son the respect he deserved. In fact, Sam’s dad died thinking of him as an idiot. Well, to be fair, he didn’t exactly have a deathbed per se as he died unexpectedly, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Join FactsVerse as we explore this touchy situation while discovering why Sam’s father thought of him in such demeaning terms. But first, let’s take a look back on Sam Elliott‘s early life and career.
His Father Died Before Seeing His Son Succeed
Samuel Pack Elliott was born on the ninth of August, 1944, in Sacramento, California. He was the son of Henry Nelson Elliott, a predator control specialist for the US Department of the Interior, and Glynn Marnie, a physical training instructor and school teacher.
When Sam was 13 years old, his family relocated from California to Portland, Oregon.
Elliott spent the bulk of his teenage years living in the Pacific Northwest in the northeastern corner of Portland. He attended David Douglas High School and graduated in 1962. Then enrolled at the University of Oregon in Eugene as an English and Psych major, although he dropped out after just two terms.
He then returned back to Portland, where he studied at Clark College in the nearby city of Vancouver, Washington. After completing a two-year program there, he was cast in the role of Big Jule in a production of Guys and Dolls.
Delivering a powerful performance, the local paper suggested that he should become a professional actor. After graduating from Clark College, he went back to the University of Oregon but soon dropped out again after his father died of a heart attack.
Sam’s Father Taught Him To Be A Man
In the late 60s, Elliott moved to LA to further pursue his dream of acting. His father had tried to convince him not to before he passed away. He wanted him to get his college degree instead.
Henry once told Sam that he had a ‘snowball’s chance in hell’ of making it in Hollywood.
Sam would later reflect on his father’s demeanor by calling him a realist. The military man was a hard worker and didn’t believe in handouts. He instilled that work ethic into his son, and Sam says that he is still immensely grateful for that even though his father never really believed in him.
Most of Elliott’s fans will acknowledge that one of his defining characteristics is his masculinity. Well, he developed this masculine persona modeling aspects of his father.
When he was a kid, Sam used to go fishing with his dad and his group of friends. In 2017, talking to The Off-Camera Show, Elliott called this group of men ‘pretty hardcore’. He further explained that his father was never particularly easy to get along with and wouldn’t put up with much of anything.
When he passed away, he had collapsed in his wife’s arms in their home in Portland. He was only 54.
When he died, Sam was 18 years old, and he still thought of his son as a total idiot for wanting to pursue acting as his profession. While he never set out to prove his father wrong, Sam did want to make the tough-as-nails man proud of his career choice. Sadly, he never got that opportunity, nor did his father ever get a chance to see his son grow into the success story he is today.
Sam told Off-Camera that his dad was never really all that interested in theater or the arts. And although he was able to see him perform on stage a few times, he never seemed all that impressed.
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Sam’s Career Picked Up Steam After His Father Died
Elliott got his start in Hollywood, working as a character actor. His resounding voice, coupled with his looming stature and rugged appearance, made him the perfect fit for Westerns. In 1969, he earned his first screen credit portraying the character Dan Kenyon in the series Judd for the Defense.
Later that year, he also appeared in an episode of the Western Lancer. He would go on to make two more appearances on that show in 1970 and 1971.
One of his earliest and most notable early roles was playing a card player who watches as the Sundance Kid showed off his gunslinging skills in the opening scene of the iconic 1969 western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
In 1975, Elliott landed the role of Charles Wood in the TV film Will Fight No More Forever. And then, from 1976 to 1977, he played the lead, Sam Damon, in the miniseries Once an Eagle, performing alongside Kim Hunter, Clu Gulager, Melanie Griffith, and Amy Irving.
In 1976, he got his feature film breakthrough role playing the character Rick Carlson in the seldom remembered film Lifeguard.
Developing A Reputation As A Character Actor
In 1977, Eliott played Tom Keating in the miniseries, Aspen. A couple of years later, he played an abusive wife-killer in the 1981 miniseries Murder in Texas, starring opposite his future wife, Katharine Ross. In 1979, he had co-starred with Tom Selleck in the miniseries Louis L’Amour’s The Sacketts. The two would join forces once again in 1982s The Shadow Rangers.
Performing opposite Cher, Eliott would appear in1985s Mask. In 1989, he portrayed a rough-and-tumble yet sympathetic father figure in the Christmas movie Prancer. Around this time, he would also enjoy guest-starring roles in series such as Gunsmoke, Hawaii Five-O, and Felony Squad.
In 1986, Elliott starred in the TV film Gone to Texas. The role gave him the chance to play Houston as both a man who grew into a fearless and silver-tongued political leader as well as a fierce fighter.
Elliott’s Marriage To Katharine Ross
Sam and Katherine Ross got married in 1984. They started dating while working together on the set of the 1978 horror film The Legacy. They previously met, however, while on the set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and in 1989 the two would appear together again in the TV film Conagher – yet another Louis L’Amour adaptation.
More recently, the couple appeared together in 2017s, The Hero, in which Ross played the ex-wife of Elliott’s lead character.
On September 17, 1984, they welcomed their daughter, Cleo, into the world. She’s now a succesful musician in Malibu, California.
Sam and Katherine have been married for 37 years now and share a home on a seaside ranch in Malibu, which they bought in the 70s. Elliott also owns a property in the Williamette Valley in Oregon, and after his mother passed away in 2012, he inherited his childhood home in northeast Portland.
Sam Elliott’s Career From The 90s to Now
In 1993, Elliott played General John Buford in the historical drama film Gettysburg. A few years later, he played The Stanger, the narrator of 1998s The Big Lebowski.
He went on to co-star in We Were Soldiers in 2002 and played General Thaddeus Ross in the 2003 superhero flick Hulk.
From 2005 to 2010, Elliott appeared in films such as Thank You For Smoking, Ghost Rider, The Golden Compass, and The Company You Keep. He also appeared three times on the sitcom Parks and Recreation as the character Ron Dunn.
From 2015 onward, Sam Elliott’s career saw a significant resurgence after starring in the Netflix series The Ranch opposite former That 70s Show stars Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson. That same year he also had a recurring role in the second season of Grace and Frankie and supplied the voice work for the character Butch in the animated film The Good Dinosaur.
In 2017, he starred in the Hero, playing an aging Western icon whose best days were behind him. His performance in that film was with critical acclaim. Later in 2017, Elliott starred in the adventure film The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot.
Elliott’s most prominent recent film role was in 2018s A Star Is Born, in which he played Bobby Maine, the older half-brother of the film’s lead Bradley Cooper. Once again, Elliott’s performance was met with resounding acclaim by both critics and audiences alike. For that role, he won the National Board of Review Award fr Best Supporting Actor and was nominated for a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. The role likewise earned him his first Academy Award nomination of his career.
If only Sam’s father had lived long enough to see what his son would go on to do with his life and career. Maybe then he wouldn’t have thought of him as an idiot. A quick search seems to imply that Sam Elliott’s net worth is somewhere around $20 million. That’s not too shabby for someone who didn’t even finish college.
What are some of your favorite films that Sam Elliott starred in? And what do you think is the secret to his success? Is it the mustache or that golden voice or something else?
Let us know in the comments section below.