01 August 2014


Katharine Ross had certainly made a name for herself before she ever stepped into a horror film. The beauty was born on January 29, 1943 in Hollywood. She studied at Santa Rosa College and worked with the San Francisco Workshop.

In 1962, she made her television debut in the TV series Sam Benedict. More television roles followed, including an appearance in a 1963 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Two years later, Ross made her first film, Shenandoah. It was followed by the Debbie Reynolds hit The Singing Nun (1966).

And then the still young actress hit paydirt. She was cast as Elaine Robinson in The Graduate, a film for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress...proving that she was more than a pretty face.

With that role, Ross came to "represent the free-thinking liberated woman" in the comtemporary cinema of the time (according to writer Ken Wlaschin).

She was the female lead in another famously successful movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). Again, she lit up the screen with her elegant good looks. Director George Roy Hill called her "the sexiest girl I'd ever seen."

After a slow period in the early '70s, Ross's career picked up again when she starred in 1975's The Stepford Wives. She was perfectly cast in the thriller based on Ira Levin's novel.

As Joanna, a photographer who moves from New York City to a small suburban town in Connecticut, she was extremely sympathetic and showed great range. At first amused by the "perfect" housewives in the town, she soon discovers a horrific secret: the women are actually droids whose sole purpose is to service their husbands. The Stepford Wives is one of the great psychological thrillers.

1978's The Swarm was a typical Irwin Allen project centered around killer bees. Although her Swarm performance verged on comatose, that same year she found a better vehicle with The Legacy. She played Margaret Walsh, an American traveling through England with her boyfriend.

When the pair have a motorcycle accident, a wealthy Brit invites them to stay at his mansion along with some other guests. One by one, they all meet gruesome deaths, until Maggie realizes it was her destiny to end up at the house...she is to be the reincarnation of her host's dying mother.

Ross's co-star in The Legacy was her future husband Sam Elliott, with whom she would collaborate on several projects over the years.

Murder By Natural Causes was an excellent Made-for-TV film. The 1979 picture co-starred Hal Holbrook - and Ross was terrific as a seemingly devoted wife who devises a plan to kill her husband by shocking him into cardiac arrest. There were plenty of twists in the very clever screenplay. The Hollywood Reporter called it an "extremely captivating caper" that "keeps you on the edge from start to finish."

In 1982, the actress had the lead in a remake of Wait Until Dark that was a videotaped stage production for HBO. She played the part of blind Suzy Hendrix, a role originally played by Audrey Hepburn in the 1967 chiller.

In recent years, Ross has appeared in 2001's Donnie Darko and Don't Let Go (2002). A great injustice that this beauty doesn't act much anymore. Katharine Ross has a screen presence that is rare indeed.

NOTABLE FILMS YEAR
The Legacy 1978
Murder by Natural Causes 1979
The Stepford Wives 1975
The Swarm 1977
Wait Until Dark 1982
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