According to those in the know (by which we mean The Net Worth Portal), Sam Elliot is currently worth the grand total of $12 million. Known to cinema-goers throughout the world for his deep baritone, his lustrous mustache, and his lanky physique, the actor’s been doing the rounds at Hollywood since 1967… and judging by that enviable net worth, all those years of hard graft have clearly paid off.
Back to the Start
Elliott was born on August 9, 1944, in Sacramento, California, to Glynn Mamie, a high school teacher, and Henry Nelson, a predator control specialist. After dropping out of the University of Oregon after two semesters of studying English and psychology, he enrolled at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. It was at Clark that Elliott’s interest in acting was sparked: after starring as Big Jule in the school’s production of Guys and Dolls, the Vancouver Columbian newspaper was so taken by his performance it suggested he should abandon whatever he was planning for the future and become a professional actor instead. In the late 1960s, Elliott did exactly that, relocating to LA to take his first steps in showbiz.
Elliott the Cowboy
After moving to LA, Elliot began picking up work as a character actor. With his resonant voice and his lanky bearing, he soon carved out a place for himself in Westerns, picking up roles in the likes of Lancer, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and I Will Fight No More Forever. In 1976, Elliot took his career to the next level with starring roles in both the miniseries Once an Eagle and the summer smash hit, Lifeguard. Over the next few years, his career went from strength to strength, thanks in no small part to his outstanding performances in features such as Aspen (1977), Murder in Texas (1981), and A Death in California (1985). The 90s and 2000s saw a continuation in Elliott’s fortunes, with some of the most notable roles from those years including Lee Scoresby in The Golden Compass, Ben the Cow in the animated film Barnyard, and Avery Markham in Justified.
While Elliott’s enjoyed a fairly consistent career, with none of the wilderness years that many actors suffer, his career took an upward turn in 2015 when he was cast alongside Ashton Kutcher and Elisha Cuthbert in the Netflix series The Ranch. The series, which aired its fourth and final season this January, drew mixed reviews for everything but Elliot’s performance, which was unanimously considered the highlight of the show. “It’s Elliott’s performance that really holds this thing together,” Ben Travers notes on Indie Wire. “I’m so very glad to see this veteran character actor get what I hope is a big payday for his time in the spotlight. He deserves both, and makes the most of his opportunity; so much so that by the time the 10 episodes wrap, just one last look from the mustachioed mountain man brought a single tear rolling down my cheek — not that I’d ever let him see it.”
And it’s not just The Ranch that’s been earning Elliott rave reviews: in 2017, his portrayal of the aging Western icon Lee Hayden in The Hero earned widespread acclaim, while his performance as Bobby Maine in 2018s A Star Is Born won him his first-ever Academy Award nomination, not to mention a National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Elliott has been working in Hollywood for over 5 decades, playing over 100 roles and earning worldwide acclaim. Success like that doesn’t come easily, but for Elliott, it’s something that can be explained by making the right choices, and for the right reasons. “I like to think some of it has to do with the choices I’ve made over the long haul and the way I have exposed myself in the long haul,” he told The LA Times about why he thinks he’s still as in-demand as ever. “I never worked for the money. I’ve never been driven by it. It’s always been about the part or the project or the people.”
If there’s one thing Elliott is known for more than anything else, it’s his voice. Sonorous, rich, and with a gravelly gravity that instantly makes you sit up and take notice, it’s a calling card that can’t help but impress. Over the last decade or so, Elliott has milked his vocals for all their worth, appearing in a spate of commercials for everyone from Dodge, IBM and Kinney Drugs to Union Pacific and American Beef Council. He’s also done voice-over work for the Colorado brewery Coors beer and Ram Trucks. Since 2008, he’s been the voice of Smokey Bear, the advertising icon of the U.S. Forest Service (who, coincidently enough, shares the same birthday (August 9, 1944) as Elliott).
One Woman Man
If there’s one thing that’ll deplete your savings faster than anything else, it’s a divorce. Fortunately for both Elliott’s love life and his bank balance, he’s managed to avoid the trap by sticking resolutely with the same woman for the last 36 years. Elliott first met Katherine Ross when she was playing the lead love interest in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and he was playing an unnamed card player. The pair didn’t set eyes on each other again until 1978, the year they both starred in the horror film, The Legacy. In a case of love at second sight, the pair started dating, eventually tying the knot in 1984. That same year, they welcomed their daughter, Cleo Rose Elliott. The couple currently lives in Malibu in the same seaside ranch they’ve owned since the ‘70s.
As we’ve seen, Sam Elliott’s fortune didn’t come about from being born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Neither can it be explained by luck, magic, or chance. For almost 5 decades, Elliott has worked relentlessly, marrying show-stealing performances with wise choices to ensure that at the age of 75, he’s still as in-demand as ever. Combine that with a modest lifestyle, a long, happy marriage, and it’s easy to see how’s he built (and maintained) that $12 million net worth.