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How Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross Have Kept the Spark Alive For 36 Years

Hollywood romances aren’t usually known for lasting long, but after 35 years together, Sam Elliott and his wife, Katharine Ross, are the exception. The fellow actors often share the screen, like in their most recent collaboration, 2017’s The Hero, where they played ex spouses. You might think working and living together would wear on a relationship, but this couple seems to thrive on it.

Elliott (75) and Ross (79) met in 1978 while filming The Legacy, a horror film about a haunted house their characters lived in as a couple. That wasn’t their first shared film set, though — Elliott was in the background of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969, but didn’t have any scenes with Ross. They never even crossed paths. “I didn’t dare try to talk to her then,” Elliot told AARP. “She was the leading lady. I was a shadow on the wall, a glorified extra in a bar scene.” How cute is that? He was too starstruck to talk to her!

Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross
The couple in 1979, a year after meeting. Photo Credit: Getty Images

After tying the knot in 1984, the couple honeymooned in Hawaii. It was there that Elliott heard about what would become his breakout role as Cher’s motorcycle riding boyfriend in Mask. According to the New York Times, he actually told the director he wanted to pass on the film because of the bad timing — but Ross called back on his behalf and assured that he would be on set. She must have known it would be the part that would get his career rolling. Women’s intuition, perhaps. 

The mutual passion for their jobs is definitely at the center of their marriage. “I think we just like making movies and having that creative experience together is the best,” Elliott told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s just fun. It’s a whole different kind of energy to go home with someone you’re working with … it’s a totally positive experience.”

Sam Elliot without mustache
A rare snap of Sam Elliott without his signature mustache in 1988. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Most people probably think you shouldn’t work with someone you’re also in a relationship with, but these two certainly make a good case for doing it right. When asked about their secret to their success by AARP, Elliott put it simply, “You work past the s–t, you don’t walk away from it. That’s how relationships last.” 

That mindset is clearly working for them! Here’s to many more happy years or Elliott and Ross — and hopefully more screen time together for the rest of us to enjoy, too.

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