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Sam Elliott: Facts About The Man, The Voice, The Mustache

Steve Palace
Photo Credit: Tommaso Boddi/WireImage
Photo Credit: Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

There’s something timeless about the actor Sam Elliott, despite him being well into his 70s. His presence is instantly recognizable and unmistakably American.

What’s the story behind this reassuring, and enduring, Hollywood star? Read on to find out the facts about Sam Elliott.

His father disapproved of an actor’s life

Sam Elliott in 1968
Sam Elliott, circa 1968. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Elliott was born in Sacramento, California. His parents were mother Glynn Mamie, a teacher and instructor, and father Henry who was part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Showbiz clearly wasn’t what Henry had in mind for young Sam. Tragically, he never lived to see how things turned out for his world-famous son.

However, Elliott reportedly carries on his dad’s legacy through a strong work ethic and the powerful male roles he plays.

Sam Elliott’s voice is his trademark

Sam Elliott onstage at the 2019 National Memorial Day Concert at U.S. Capitol, West Lawn on May 26, 2019
Photo Credit: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

If you don’t know Elliott’s face, you’ll sure as sugar know his voice. It cruises through your senses like a top-quality barbecue sauce, leaving you wanting more.

When the Coen brothers cast him as the narrator of The Big Lebowski (1998), they wanted to hang off his every word.

Take after take was shot of his brief onscreen appearance. The actor wondered why. “They made him do it nine more times just because they liked watching him deliver his lines,” wrote Mental Floss.

Where do his distinctive tones come from? Elliott’s father was an influence on his life, but as the man himself revealed to CNN: “I sounded very much like my mom in terms of the dialect.” He was dissuaded from using his accent but stuck to his guns, a move that paid off big time.

From voicing road safety champion Smokey Bear to playing Virgil Earp 1993’s Tombstone, is there anything he can’t sell with that voice of his? Seemingly not — “I’d love to do a musical one day,” he told CNN, “if it’s in the cards.”

Elliott doesn’t get what the hubbub’s about with his mustache

Sam Elliott stroking his mustache
What’s not to get? (Photo Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Sam Elliott doesn’t mess around with his mustache. It has been known to leave his lip from time to time, but overall, everyone associates him with that impressive facial hair.

The straight-talking star doesn’t understand the hairy hubbub. Mental Floss mentioned his puzzlement on being placed in a virtual competition against fellow mustache wearer Tom Selleck. The pair worked together in 1982 Western The Shadow Riders…paydirt for mustache maniacs.

He’s fought all manner of foes onscreen

Still from The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot
Photo Credit: Eagle Films / MovieStillsDB

An early appearance for Elliott was in the horror movie Frogs (1972). He tried not to croak as mankind was set upon by the natural world.

If he thought that was strange, then more surreal action awaited later in life. 2018 curio The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot did exactly what it said on the tin. Needless to say, Elliott got the job done.

It was written in the stars for Elliott and wife Katherine Ross

Actress Katharine Ross at the 47th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, 20th January 1990.
Photo Credit: Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elliott has been lucky in both his career and his personal life.

Actress Katherine Ross shared the screen with Newman and Redford in the all-time classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). But a certain “blink and you’ll miss him” player would become her husband…Sam Elliott.

He couldn’t muster up the courage to talk to her back then, but when his profile rose and they found themselves starring together in horror fest The Legacy (1978), a romance blossomed. They married in 1984 and have one daughter, Cleo Rose.

You’ll often see him in a stetson

American actors Tom Selleck (left) and Sam Elliott as Orrin and Tell Sackett in 'The Sacketts', directed by Robert Totten, 1979.
Photo Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Elliott was born to ride the range and handle a six-shooter. On the big screen at least. Western aficionados love him and self-proclaimed John Wayne fan Elliott has respect for the genre. “There’s a simplicity to that form that has always spoken to me,” he told The Guardian.

His credentials were well and truly acknowledged when he made it into Oklahoma City’s National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 2007.

Sam Elliott is also a writer

Sam Elliott and Cher
Cher leaning against Sam Elliott in a scene from the film ‘Mask’, 1985. (Photo Credit: Universal/Getty Images)

As well as acting, Elliott has worked as a writer. No handing the script to Elliott and expecting him to just say the lines, it seems. He’s reportedly not averse to changing things if he thinks they sound better or more authentic.

When asked about his approach to performance, the richly toned role player said to The Guardian: “it’s all about what’s on the page.”

He switched roles in Road House

road house still
Photo Credit: Silver Pictures / MovieStillsDB

Speaking of going in a different creative direction, one of Elliott’s best-known roles is that of Wade Garrett in the fondly remembered Patrick Swayze vehicle Road House (1989).

But he originally wanted to play Brad Wesley, ultimately portrayed by acclaimed character actor Ben Gazzara. Elliott reckoned he’d fare better in the other part and so the switch was made.

He ain’t fancy

Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott and Lady Gaga attend The TCL Chinese Theatre Hosts Sam Elliott Hand And Footprint Ceremony at TCL Chinese Theatre on January 7, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Photo Credit: Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

Various sources note that Elliott will be the last person you’ll find living an A-List lifestyle. He appears to keep things simple, selects work carefully, and ensures his feet remain on the ground.

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It’s going well so far. He had to wait till 2019 for an Oscar nomination — 2019’s A Star Is Born — but apart from that, he has little to complain about. Nor would he want to, we’re guessing. Here’s to the man who puts the sass in Sarsaparilla.