Katharine Juliet Ross rose to notoriety after co-starring with Dustin Hoffman in the film The Graduate. Her performance garnered her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and a Golden Globe award for New Star of the Year.
The film was a smash hit, generating $104.9 million in the United States and Canada, making it the highest-grossing picture of 1967. The Graduate’s finale remains a mystery, with Benjamin (Hoffman) saving Elaine (Ross) from her wedding. The two are later spotted sitting on a city bus, their looks surprising onlookers.
“You are constantly taught to keep going in a scene until the director says, ‘Cut.’ Mike didn’t say it for a long time. We ran out of conversation, but the camera continued rolling. What am I thinking? “I think Elaine got off at the next stop,” Ross remarked of the part that propelled her to stardom.
“[Dustin Hoffman] was a New York theater performer. He looked like he had rolled out from beneath a rock since he was so pale. He just wanted to get back to his off-Broadway performance. Although we eventually got to know and enjoy one other, my initial impression that day was, “Oh my God — this guy is dressed all in black, and he is white as a sheet,” Ross told the Houston Chronicle.
“You’re aware that Gene Hackman, Dustin’s former roommate, was cast as my father. I’m not sure what the situation was, but he backed out.”
Ross made her professional acting debut in 1962 with the television series Sam Benedict, followed by her film debut with Shenandoah, co-starring James Stewart.
Ross performed in a variety of films early in her long and famous career, including Hellfighters, Fools, The Final Countdown, A Climate for Killing, and many others, but being an actor in the 1960s was not easy.
“I recall performing a screen test for the only picture Samuel Goldwyn Jr. ever directed, The Young Lovers. It was supposed to star Peter Fonda, but he wasn’t available for the screen test, so they brought in Chad Everett. He had no idea the character had been cast, so he gave it his all for the screen test. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the truth. I had many appointments with a hairdresser to achieve my appearance just as Sam wanted it. When they were finished, they had cut off all of my hair. “And they ended up casting someone else,” she previously told Variety. “I’ll tell you what was great about it,” she said. “It was a period when the old studio structure was dying, and they were just beginning to experiment with new techniques, and the little $1 million budget pictures were viewed as the way to go. And it did turn out to be the beginning of a fantastic new age, which became the indie cinema movement.”
In 1969, she received another major part. She was cast in the now-legendary film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, where she appeared in one of the most memorable moments ever, balancing on the handlebars of a bicycle pedaled by actor Paul Newman.
Ross and actor Sam Elliott have been happily married for around 40 years. She had four previous marriages before marrying Elliot, and she had finally discovered genuine love with him.
The two originally worked together in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but he was an extra and lacked the bravery to approach her. He was enamored by her, and so began one of the most beautiful relationships in Hollywood history.
“My wife, Katharine Ross, and I both worked on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but I didn’t dare to approach her then. She was the starring lady. “I was a shadow on the wall, a glorified extra in a bar scene,” Elliott told AARP The Magazine in 2015.
“It was a fantastic experience, though, since being an extra on the program and a contract player (with Fox) allowed me to sit in and watch them produce the film. “I spent a lot of time in a dark corner watching Katharine and the rest of ’em work while they were in Los Angeles,” he told The Oklahoman.
Ten years later, they collaborated again, this time on the Gothic horror film The Legacy.
They welcomed daughter Cleo Rose Elliott and went on to feature in other films together, including Travis McGee, Houston: The Legend of Texas, and Conagher. Elliott played an old Western film star in The Hero, while Ross played his ex-wife.
“I think we just like making movies, and having that creative experience together is the best,” Elliott told the Los Angeles Times in 2016.
“It’s simply fun. Going home with coworkers is a whole different type of vibe than going home with someone who isn’t working. It’s a completely pleasant experience.
Elliot once stated that the secret to a long and happy marriage is that we share a sensibility but also work hard to be together. You work through the shit; you don’t walk away from it. “That is how relationships last.”