Sam Elliott: Who Did the Cowboy Icon Play on ‘Gunsmoke’?

by Katie Maloney
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If you’re a true western fan, you probably know that Sam Elliott starred in several unforgettable wild west films. But can you name his character in Gunsmoke?

Sam Elliott has always had a passion for westerns. In 1993 he took on his first major role in a western film in Tombstone. For the film, Elliott plays Virgil, one of three brothers who are attempting to leave their gunslinger ways behind them. But, they are soon pulled back in when they’re targeted by a ruthless cowboy gang. Elliott followed this role with Houston: The Legend of Texas in 1986, The Quick and the Dead in 1987. And You Know My Name in 1999.

But before all of that, Sam Elliott made an appearance on Gunsmoke in 1972. He played Cory Soames. Fans may remember him particularly in Season 17 for the episode titled “The Wedding.”

The episode begins with Cory and his fiancée, Donna, standing in front of a preacher preparing for marriage. All of a sudden, the chapel doors fly open, and in comes Donna’s angry father, Walt. Walt grabs Cory and turns him in to the police for allegedly stealing a horse. And he forces Donna to come back home without her husband. Walt spends the entire episode trying to convince Donna that Cory is no good for her. But his ploy starts to cost Walt far more than he expected.

During an interview, Elliott once shared why he loves westerns.

“I think it has something to do with integrity and a man’s word and honor and all that kind of stuff — values, morality, all that kind of stuff that everybody looks kind of down their nose at,” said Elliott.

American actors Tom Selleck (left) and Sam Elliott as Orrin and Tell Sackett in The Sacketts in 1979. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Sam Elliott’s Acting Debut Was in Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

Long before he starred in riveting western dramas, Sam Elliott made his acting debut in one of the most iconic westerns of them all, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. In the early 60s, Elliott moved to Hollywood to pursue acting. Just a few years later he landed a part in the legendary movie. However, don’t expect to see him for very long in the film. Elliott played “Card Player No. 2” and was seen only fleetingly during a card game scene.

During an interview, Elliott joked about his role in the movie.

“I think I was a shadow on a wall or something,” he joked.

But even playing a shadow has its perks. Elliott would later go on to marry the movie’s lead actress, Katharine Ross. However, they didn’t actually meet during the filming process.

Ross played Robert Redford’s love interest in the movie. Almost a decade later, Elliott and Ross met for the film The Legacy. They quickly fell in love and were married a few years later. They’ve been married for 34 years and they have one daughter together. During an interview, Elliot joked about The Legacy.

“Not a great film, but a legacy nonetheless for Katharine and me,” he said.

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