Katharine Juliet Ross (born January 29, 1940) is an American film and stage actress and author. She had starring roles as Elaine Robinson in The Graduate (1967), for which she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress; as Etta Place in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), for which she won a BAFTA Award for Best Actress; and as Joanna Eberhart in The Stepford Wives (1975). She won a Golden Globe for Voyage of the Damned (1976).
Ross in Mister Buddwing (1966)
Katharine Juliet Ross
January 29, 1940
Hollywood, California, U.S.
(m. 1960; div. 1962)
(m. 1964; div. 1967)
(m. 1969; div. 1974)
(m. 1974; div. 1979)
Ross was born in Hollywood, California, on January 29, 1940, (though many sources cite 1942 or 1943) when her father, Dudley Ross, was in the Navy. He had also worked for the Associated Press. Her family later settled in Walnut Creek, California, east of San Francisco, and she graduated from Las Lomas High School in 1957.
She studied at Santa Rosa Junior College for one year (1957–1958) where she was introduced to acting via a production of The King and I. She dropped out of the course and moved to San Francisco to study acting.
She was picked up by agent Wally Hiller, and in 1964, Ross appeared in episodes of Kraft Suspense Theatre, The Lieutenant, Arrest and Trial, The Virginian, The Great Adventure, Ben Casey, Mr. Novak, Wagon Train, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Run for Your Life, Gunsmoke, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour ("Dividing Wall", 1963) as well as the love interest of Heath Barkley opposite Lee Majors on The Big Valley (Season 1 Episode 7 "Winner Loses All"). She screen tested for The Young Lovers."
Ross made her first film, Shenandoah (1965) playing the daughter-in-law of James Stewart. She returned to guest starring on shows like The Loner," The Wild Wild West and The Road West." MGM put her in an unsold TV pilot about bible stories. She signed a long term deal with Universal who called her an "American Samantha Eggar".
"I didn't want a contract in the movies but a lot of people convinced me it was a good thing to do," she later said.
At Universal she starred in a TV movie with Doug McClure, The Longest Hundred Miles (1967), then co starred in a thriller, Games (1967) with Simone Signoret and James Caan, which she later called "terrible".
Ross had a breakout role as Elaine Robinson in the hugely popular The Graduate (1967) opposite Dustin Hoffman. She had been recommended to director Mike Nichols by Signoret. This part earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe as New Star of the Year. She said, "I'm not a movie star...that system is dying and I'd like to help it along."
She later said at this time "I got sent everything in town but Universal wouldn't loan me out." After eight months she was in Hellfighters (1968) playing the daughter of John Wayne who romances Jim Hutton.
She won a BAFTA for her part as an Indian in Universal's Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969), starring Robert Redford. In August 1968, she signed a new contract with Universal to make two films a year for seven years.
She turned down several roles (including Jacqueline Bisset's role in Bullitt) before accepting the part of Etta Place in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), co-starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, which was another massive hit. She was paid $175,000.
She was dropped by Universal in the spring of 1969, for refusing to play a stewardess in Airport, another role that went to Jacqueline Bisset. She eventually got out of her Universal contract. However this meant later on she lost out to Tuesday Weld on a film she really wanted to do, an adaptation of Play It As It Lays, because it was a Universal movie.
She did star in Fools (1970) with Jason Robards.
She occasionally acted, appearing in Get to Know Your Rabbit (1972), They Only Kill Their Masters (1972) with James Garner and Chance and Violence (1974) with Yves Montand. She turned down several more roles, including a part in The Towering Inferno.
Preferring stage acting, Ross returned to the small playhouses in Los Angeles for much of the 1970s.
"I'm aware that I have the reputation of being difficult," she later said.
She reprised the role of Etta Place in a 1976 ABC TV movie, Wanted: The Sundance Woman. She won a Golden Globe for best supporting actress for her part in 1977's Voyage of the Damned. She was also in The Betsy (1978), The Swarm (1978), and The Legacy (1979).
She starred in several television movies, including Murder by Natural Causes in 1979 with Hal Holbrook, Barry Bostwick and Richard Anderson, Rodeo Girl in 1980, Murder in Texas (1981) and Marian Rose White (1982). She had a support role in The Final Countdown (1980) and Wrong Is Right (1982) but focused on TV movies: The Shadow Riders (1982), a remake of Wait Until Dark (1983), Travis McGee (1982) with Elliot, Secrets of a Mother and Daughter (1983), Red Headed Stranger (1986), and Houston: The Legend of Texas (1986) with Elliot.
She played Donnie's therapist in the 2001 film Donnie Darko. She was in Don't Let Go (2002), and Capital City (2004) and played Carly Schroeder's grandmother in the 2006 independent film Eye of the Dolphin. She was in Slip, Tumble & Slide (2015).
In 2017, she appeared as Sam Elliott's former wife in The Hero, in which he played an aging Western star.
Ross has established herself as an author, publishing several children's books.
In January 2015 she appeared at the Malibu Playhouse in the first of a series titled A Conversation With, interviewed by Steven Gaydos. That February, she appeared with her husband Sam Elliott in Love Letters, also at the Malibu Playhouse.
Ross has been in four short marriages, with her current and fifth marriage now being over 35 years-old. Her first marriage was to actor Joel Fabiani from 1960 to 1962. She was then married to John Marion 1964 to 1967. In 1969, Ross married cinematographer and three-time Oscar-winner Conrad Hall after meeting him on the set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They separated in 1973. She was married to Gaetano "Tom" Lisi from 1975 to 1979; they met when he was a chauffeur and technician on the set of The Stepford Wives.
Ross is married to actor Sam Elliott, whom she originally met on the set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). It is his only marriage. The couple met again when they co-starred in The Legacy (1978). They soon became a couple and married in May 1984, four months before the birth of their only child, daughter Cleo Rose Elliott.
|1962||Sam Benedict||Teresa Parelli||Episode: "A Split Week in San Quentin"|
|1963||Kraft Suspense Theatre||Janet Bollington||Episode: "Are There Any More Out There Like You?"|
|1963||The Lieutenant||Elizabeth||Episode: "Fall from a White Horse"|
|1963||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||Carol Brandt||Episode: "The Dividing Wall"|
|1964||Arrest and Trial||Marietta Valera||Episode: "Signals of an Ancient Flame"|
|1964||Ben Casey||Marie Costeau||Episode: "The Evidence of Things Not Seen"|
|1964||The Virginian||Jenny Hendricks||Episode: "The Dark Challenge"|
|Episode: "Crooked Mile"|
Episode: "The Lady"
|1965||Mr. Novak||Mrs. Bellway||Episode: "Faculty Follies: Part 2"|
|1965||Wagon Train||Bonnie Brooke||Episode: "The Bonnie Brooke Story"|
|1965||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Gloria||Episode: "Terror Island"|
|1965||Run for Your Life||Laura Beaumont||Episode: "The Cold, Cold War of Paul Bryan"|
|1965||The Big Valley||Maria Montero||Episode: "Winner Lose All" S. 1 Ep 7|
|1965||The Loner||Sue Sullivan||Episode: "Widow on the Evening Stage"|
|1965||The Wild Wild West||Sheila Parnell||Episode: "The Night of the Double-Edged Knife"|
|1966||Preview Tonight||Asenath||Episode: "Great Bible Adventures: Seven Rich Years and Seven Lean"|
|1966||The Road West||Rachel Adams||Episode: "To Light a Candle"|
|1976||Origins of the Mafia||Rosa Mastrangelo||Mini-series|
|1976||Wanted: The Sundance Woman||Etta Place / Mrs. Sundance / Annie Martin / Bonnie Doris||TV movie|
|1979||Murder by Natural Causes||Allison Sinclair||TV movie|
|1980||Rodeo Girl||Sammy Garrett||TV movie|
|1981||Murder in Texas||Ann Kurth Hill||TV movie with Sam Elliott.|
|1982||Wait Until Dark||Suzy Hendrix||TV movie|
|1982||Marian Rose White||Nurse Bonnie MacNeil||TV movie|
|1982||The Shadow Riders||Kate Connery/Sister Katherine||TV movie with Sam Elliott.|
|1983||Travis McGee||Gretel Howard||TV movie with Sam Elliott.|
|1983||Secrets of a Mother and Daughter||Ava Price||TV movie|
|1985–1987||The Colbys||Francesca 'Frankie' Scott Colby Hamilton Langdon||49 episodes|
|1986||Gone To Texas aka Houston: The Legend of Texas||Susannah Dickinson||TV movie with Sam Elliott.|
|1988||ABC Afterschool Specials||Maggie's Mother||Episode: "Tattle: When to Tell on a Friend"|
|1991||Conagher||Evie Teale||TV movie with Sam Elliott.|
|2004||Capital City||N/A||Unaired pilot|
|2016||American Dad||Angela, Sickly Lady (voices)||2 episodes|
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