" It's just hair on somebody's lip."
-Sam Elliott on his signature mustache
Throughout Sam Elliott's career, he's become synonymous with his mustache. Somehow, it's almost as famous as he is. He's had it for decades, one of the first in his generation to have one, and it quickly became part of his identity. Despite the fascination, he's certainly not the only man in Hollywood to grow a mustache. Just look at Tom Selleck or Nick Offerman. Even actors like Jude Law and Ryal Gosling have dabbled. But for Sam Elliott, his mustache has become a pop culture phenomenon people just can't seem to get enough of.
Thrillest ranked all of his best mustaches throughout his career (Tombstone won first place). Someone started a Twitter account called @MustacheElliott. In 2019, Fandango tweeted, "Let Sam Elliott and Sam Elliott's mustache host the Oscars." What is it about this mustache that is so special? If you ask Elliott himself, he doesn't have a clue. He told the TODAY Show that it's just facial hair.
"Yeah, it's a weird thing, isn't it? It's just hair on somebody's lip," Elliott said. "I'm comfortable with it or without it. I've worked without it a number of times over the years."
And as much as his fanbase might be uncomfortable with a bare-faced Elliott, he actually is fine without it. He's gone without the stache a few times over the years, notably early in his career and then sporadically for a few roles. He makes such a statement with his signature mustache that he's nearly unrecognizable without it until you hear that deep voice. We'll never really know what it is that has turned the mustache into as much a legend as Elliott himself, but it's an entertaining craze that will continue to follow the beloved actor until the end of his career.
Here are some photos over the years of Elliott without the iconic stache. If you're anything like me, you won't be able to look away. Dare I say, he looks a bit like Scott Bakula?
1968- 24-year-old Sam Elliott
Just a fresh-faced Sam in his twenties, years before his mustache would set him apart from other actors in Hollywood. You almost forget that there was ever a time Elliott didn't have the stash and grey hair because he's been rocking that look since Mask.
1971- Mission Impossible
Another photo of young Elliott early in his career when he jumped around TV shows here and there. He appeared in Mission Impossible season 5, among other hits like Lancer and Gunsmoke.
One of Elliott's early big breaks was in the horror film Frogs, which is about killer frogs. Look at that seventies haircut!
1974- Hawaii Five-0
Maybe it's the angle, but Elliott in an episode of Hawaii Five-0 looks just like Jon Hamm. Right?
2000- High Fidelity premiere
Fast forward a couple of decades when the mustache was in full force, and here we have Elliott at the peak of his career, showing up to a movie premiere bare-faced. He still has the twinkle in his eye and the easy breezy smile, but there's just something missing.
2001- Jurassic Park III premiere
Apparently, around this time, Elliott went a fair amount of time without the mustache. Here he is with his family in full dad mode, checking out the premiere of the new Jurassic Park movie.
2001-Sixth Annual Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards
I just can't look away. Was he experimenting during this time? Why the need to be fully shaven?
2002 - We Were Soldiers
It makes sense for him to be clean shaved in this movie since he is in the Army. But just look at this photo...it doesn't even look like him!
2015- Grandma premiere
15 years later, Elliott lost the stache again. In 2015 he went bare-faced for his role in the modern western series Justified, not for any particular reason, he told Vulture.
"I didn't have it when they cast me, and I didn't have time to grow one that I wanted to wear on weekly episodic TV. So I left it off, and I'm glad I did. It helped me a lot with this guy to look different than I did in most of the work I've done. And I never combed my hair straight back, either, so that's a new thing. That seems absurd, probably, but it's that little subtle stuff that makes all the difference in the world."
2015- Park City, Utah
And here's our favorite Hollywood cowboy one last time, pictured walking around Park City, Utah. At least he brought back the mustache for Yellowstone prequel 1883.
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