Throughout his career, Sam Elliott has starred in a number of military-focused films. After all, who can forget “We Were Soldiers” for instance? But the actor also served in the military as well.
Before he became an actor fans all know and love, Elliott served in the California National Guard. He was part of the California Air National Guard’s 163rd Airlift Wings out of Channel Islands for a brief time. Elliott doesn’t talk much about his stint in the military. It was a stepping stone on his way to becoming an actor. But the experience likely helped characters he played later in his career like Sergeant Major Basil L. Plumley.
In 2002, the National Guard Association awarded Elliott the Spirit of America Award. Elliott also gave back to the military in his own way. He narrated a four-part 2019 documentary “Honor Guard,” which explores the 3rd Infantry Regiment, the oldest active infantry regiment in the Army. They’re also known as the Old Guard.
“It was an opportunity for me to honor those that honor the fallen,” Elliott told Deadline.
Sam Elliott’s Early Career
Elliott wanted to be an actor since his youth. It was a subject that he often argued with his father about, who disapproved of Elliott’s career choice. But Elliott was determined to succeed at acting, even if the road to stardom was a bit bumpy.
After serving in the military, one of Elliott’s National Guard buddies recommended him to a large talent agency. Unfortunately, the agent hated Elliott’s southern drawl and tried to convince him to take speech lessons to change his accent.
The actor started working construction just to make ends meet while he continued with his dream. Construction actually led to his first real break when he did a project for an assistant Hollywood director. Elliott found himself on Hollywood sets and soon he appeared as an extra in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
That role quickly turned into others for the actor. Before long, Elliott had finally the beginnings of a movie career. The actor got his start in TV westerns but shot to national recognition as a sex symbol when he starred in “Lifeguard” in 1976. Elliott added some other key roles under his belt, appearing as a friendly biker in the film “Mask.” Before long, Elliott’s star had risen, and he became known for both his mustache and his signature baritone.