Sam Elliott Theorized on Why His Western TV Show, ‘The Yellow Rose’ Didn’t Succeed

by Jon D. B.

In this fascinating 2006 interview, Hollywood icon Sam Elliott details the shortcomings of The Yellow Rose – and he doesn’t sound at all happy.

Some years ago, Sam Elliott sat down for a truly wonderful interview with author and entertainment writer Scott Holleran. Within, Elliott discusses every stage of his career. It’s all there: from the heights of his Hollywood blockbusters to indie darlings, to failed television shows. The latter, however, reveals perhaps the most intriguing tidbit from Elliott of the entire sit-down.

As the pair breeze through the incredible history that is Sam Elliott in popular Westerns, The Yellow Rose eventually comes up.

“Speaking of cowboys, why didn’t your NBC dramatic series The Yellow Rose catch on?” asks Holleran.

It’s a fair enough question, as Rose had all the makings of a hit. For starters, it was backed by NBC and held Sam Elliott in the lead of a modern western. Yet the show, which ran from October 2, 1983 until May 12, 1984, would only last a single season and 22 episodes. So what happened, exactly? Elliot explains.

“We went down to Del Rio, Texas, and the show was really about these guys who were trying to work out a lifestyle that was ranching and the oil business came into it,” the Western icon revisits of the premise.

“They were modern day cowboys,” Elliott clarifies of the show. “But—and I don’t remember who was running NBC—they turned it into soap opera,” he reveals.

In short: “They messed with it,” the actor states.

Chalk the failure of The Yellow Rose up to NBC, then, Western fans. What a shame.

From Soap Opera Failures to Hollywood’s Highest Heights: Sam Elliott has Seen It All

If there’s any tidbit from Elliott’s sit-down with Scott Holleran that reads even more interestingly, it’s this:

“Of all the films I’ve done, that was the most difficult to make.” These, too, are the words of Sam Elliott. And he’s talking about 2002’s war epic, We Were Soldiers.

The lauded film, which Mel Gibson headlines, tells the harrowing story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War. Not a soul involved took this lightly, either, including Sam Elliott.

“This was an opportunity to get the Vietnam War right,” he reveals to Holleran. “And most of the veterans who come up to me tell me we did.”

There’s no higher praise for those working on a war film. By many accounts, it is the trickiest of genres to “get it right” – as there’s no substitute for experiencing the true horrors of war.

To this end, Sam Elliott reveals a bit more as to why this film was so difficult to make.

“It was a very powerful movie—I walked off some of those scenes in tears,” he offers in the 2006 interview. Not hard to imagine with how brutal We Were Soldiers can be. Which is only a fraction of what the real life soldiers endured.

For more from Sam Elliott on his experience filming We Were Soldiers – including his meeting of the real-life  Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley – we’ve got you covered.