Sam Elliott Turns 78: Remembering the Time He Co-Starred in a Western Series With Reba McEntire

by Sean Griffin

Happy birthday to Sam Elliott!

Elliott turned 78 today, August 9th. The legendary actor played the role of Shea Brennan in the Yellowstone spinoff 1883. In that series, he starred alongside Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and LaMonica Garrett.

Before his role in 1883, the actor held plenty of iconic roles that cemented him as a star in westerns, thrillers, and all kinds of movies in between. For instance, Elliott starred in the Coen brothers’ classic 1998 film The Big Lebowski. He also appeared in the hit show Gunsmoke and in films such as Lifeguard, Gettysburg, and Tombstone.

However, his time in 1883 isn’t Elliott’s first time sharing a TV screen with famous country singers. Back in 1995, Elliott shared the small screen with none other than Reba McEntire.

Before McEntire landed her hit television show Reba, she starred in other Hollywood projects. One was called Buffalo Girls, and she shared the screen with Sam Elliott.

The project was adapted as a Western TV miniseries from the 1990 novel of the same name by Larry McMurtry. The story is told from the perspective of historical frontierswoman and sharpshooter Calamity Jane. Anjelica Huston plays the role of Calamity Jane. The plot centers on a Wild West in decline.

Both McEntire and Elliott portrayed historical figures in Buffalo Girls. McEntire played the role of legendary sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Oakley became one of the stars in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show starting in 1885. Her legacy as a Wild West figure became enshrined in history. On the other hand, Elliott played Wild Bill Hickok. Hickok is a folk hero of the Old West who gained notoriety for his many gunfights.

Sam Elliott and Reba McEntire Starred in ‘Buffalo Girls’

Buffalo Girls aired over the course of two nights in spring 1995 on CBS. The series debuted to critical acclaim. It received nominations for many awards, including several Emmys and two Golden Globes. It won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Miniseries or a Special.

McEntire’s time as the famous sharpshooter in Buffalo Girls wouldn’t be her last time in the role of Annie Oakley. In 2001, she reprised the role in the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun.

Recently, 1883 actor Eric Nelsen spoke about the thrill of acting with a Hollywood icon like Elliott.

“Intimidated may be the wrong word, but he’s got this aura and this greatness to him. And his body of work just embodies everything I would ever want in a career,” Nelsen explained. Nelsen talked about being a huge fan of westerns and how honored he was to earn his role.

Little did he know, he’d get the part as “Ennis” and work alongside Sam Elliott.

“So that alone just kind of… Well, it’s not like they’re unapproachable. But you expect people like that to be a certain way, and you’re almost nervous,” he said. “Because if you get to know them and they let you down and they’re not who you think they should be, or who you want them to be in real life, it would disappoint you.”

At Outsider, we wish the legendary actor a happy 78th birthday.