Ross Elliott (born Elliott Blum, June 18, 1917 – August 12, 1999) was an American television and film character actor. He began his acting career in the Mercury Theatre, where he performed in The War of the Worlds, Orson Welles’ famed radio program.
Elliott was born in the Bronx, New York. While at City College of New York, he participated in the college’s dramatic society, causing him to abandon his original plan to become a lawyer.
Elliott’s Broadway credits include The Shoemaker’s Holiday (1938), Danton’s Tod (1938), Morning Star (1940), This Is the Army (1942), and Apple of His Eye (1946).
Elliott joined the United States Army on August 4, 1941. Much of his time there was spent in “soldier-casts of various touring shows.”
After serving in World War II, Elliott moved to Hollywood. He enjoyed a long career, working steadily in supporting roles in a diverse array of films, including Woman on the Run, D-Day the Sixth of June, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Wild Seed, Kelly’s Heroes, Skyjacked and The Towering Inferno. Elliott was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Throughout his career, Elliott appeared in more than 100 television programs, including the recurring role of crewman Cort Ryker on the syndicated The Blue Angels (1960–1961). Elliott appeared 59 times in a recurring role as Sheriff Abbott on NBC’s western series, The Virginian. He was cast as Virgil Earp in four episodes in 1958 and 1959 of The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, with Hugh O’Brian in the title role of Wyatt Earp, Virgil’s younger brother.
In 1956 he appeared as Sam Wilson on the TV western Cheyenne in the episode titled “Mustang Trail.” In 1958, Elliott played Reverend Kilgore in the episode “The Lord Will Provide” on The Texan, with Rory Calhoun and Ellen Corby. Later that year he played murder victim and title character George Hartley Beaumont in the Perry Mason episode “The Case of the Corresponding Corpse”.
On December 26, 1959, he was cast as the historical lawyer Temple Houston in the episode “The Reluctant Gun” of Death Valley Days, with host Stanley Andrews. This appearance was nearly four years before Jeffrey Hunter played Temple Houston in the short-lived series Temple Houston. Elliott portrayed Colonel Parker in the 1960 episode “Chain of Command” of Colt .45. In 1960 Elliott appeared as Reed Kingsley on Cheyenne in the episode titled “Alibi for the Scalped Man.” In 1960 and 1961 he appeared twice on the popular Leave it to Beaver, including as the school principal.
From 1962 to 1963, he was cast as Marty Rhodes in four episodes of the NBC legal drama Sam Benedict, starring Edmond O’Brien. From 1963 to 1965, Elliott played Lee Baldwin on the ABC Daytime soap opera General Hospital.
Elliott appeared in 11 episodes of The Jack Benny Program as director Freddie. His other television appearances included Burns and Allen, The Twilight Zone, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, Adventures of Superman, The Lone Ranger, Pony Express, The Rifleman, Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Lassie, Leave It to Beaver, Combat!, Hazel, The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Dragnet, Adam-12, Emergency!, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, The Dukes of Hazzard, and Little House on the Prairie. Ross Elliott also appeared in Barnaby Jones, portraying Dr. Dean Sanders; episode titled, “Perchance to Kill”(03/11/1973).
Elliott may be best remembered for having portrayed the television director in the classic episode “Lucy Does a TV Commercial” of I Love Lucy, in which Lucy Ricardo advertises Vitameatavegamin, a tonic that is 23% alcohol.
Elliott died of cancer on August 12, 1999 at the age of 82. He was survived by his wife, Sue, and sister, Mrs. Shirley Frisch.