Monday, October 11, 2010

Male on Monday: Sam Elliott

PHS Editor Donna Alward is known for writing cowboys. Today she takes a look at one of her favourite Hollywood cowboys - the man with the voice: Sam Elliot.

Sam Elliott has the ability to make me swoon. And it's all from the voice.  And maybe the mustache. I'm not generally a fan of mustaches, but I make an exception for Elliott.  He is in a class of his own. When he was Parade Marshal for the Calgary Stampede Parade a few years ago, I figured I'd get a better view of him watching the tv than I would on the parade route (and have a miss at the traffic).

Sam's perhaps a little...ahem....experienced for me (66 to my 38), but IMO that doesn't detract from his sexiness AT ALL.

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 began his career as a character actor, his appearance and bearing ideally suited for Westerns. One of his first film roles was as 'Card Player #2' in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).

During 1970-71, 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 (1986). 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; for instance, he played Wild Bill Hickock in Buffalo Girls (1995). In 1998, Elliot was named the grand marshall of the Calgary Stampede parade and rode in the procession before 300,000 spectators. He has also starred in ''Road House (1989) alongside Patrick Swayze and played Virgil Earp in Tombstone (1993), which starred Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.

Elliott has performed voice-over narration for various commercials. He has lent his voice to campaigns for Chevy, IBM, Union Pacific, and, most notably, the American Beef Council, succeeding Robert Mitchum. 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 in their Ram Heavy Duty truck commercial. He is also the new voice for Smokey Bear ("Only YOU can prevent wildfires"). Coincidentally, Elliott and "Smokey" are the same age.

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, which is based on the book Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.

In 2009, Elliott had a small role in Up In The Air, in which he portrayed the Captain of an American Airlines jet. Elliott had previously appeared in Thank You For Smoking which was also directed by Jason Reitman.

Elliott has been married to actress Katharine Ross since 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, born September 17, 1984.

Personally, my favourite roles with Elliott is Virgil Earp in Tombstone, I cheered when he appeared in The Golden Compass, and he made a perfect exasperated father Ben the Bull in Barnyard. Of course Ben is voice only, but with Elliott sometimes that's all you need.

Donna's current release is Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle, out now in the UK and the Mills and Book Book of the Month. You can check out an excerpt on her website at


  1. Donna, thank you for a wonderful post!!! Sam Elliott is the love of my life, and he has no peer as a Western star! As I’ve said many times, his voice alone makes all the seams in your clothes come loose : ) One of my favorite films by Sam is “Conagher”, a great movie on many levels. Sam and his wife, Katharine Ross, are picture perfect in this film. Louis L’Amour, Sam Elliott, Katharine Ross and a stellar supporting cast make this sweet prairie love story unforgettable! I own the book and the movie. In addition to playing the title role, Sam executive produced and co-wrote the screenplay (with wife Katharine Ross and Jeffrey M. Meyer ) for “Conagher”. The picture was one of the highest-rated originals ever to air on TNT and would win Sam a Western Heritage Award, as well as a Golden Globe nomination (for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV). One of my favorite words is “courtly”, which to me means respectful and mannerly. Who could resist a courtly cowboy, hat in hand, when he says “thank you, Ma’am”? A lady journalist who was once lucky enough to interview Sam Elliott described him as “courtly”. I knew that : )

  2. He was also in a film with Kristie Alley years ago, can't remember the title, but she saw him in a checkout queue and ended up having a romp with him...
    Hmm, wonder what that was called. He was Gorgeous in that!

  3. Hi Virginia and Sally!

    Sally - I think that movie was Sibling Rivalry?

  4. Donna, I only have to listen to Sam to know he's a hero. Ah, the voice. The rest is icing on the cake.