A laconic performer whose trademark bushy mustache and deep gravely voice made him perfect for Western roles, actor Sam Elliott unfortunately emerged at a time when that particular genre had run its course. As one of the last actors to sign an exclusive contract under the old studio system, Elliott struggled to find his footing in the feature world, which led to getting his start on the small screen with a regular series role on "Mission: Impossible" (CBS, 1966-1973) during the show's last season. Following several made-for-television movies and guest starring roles on episodes of "Hawaii Five-O" (CBS, 1968-1980) and "Police Woman" (NBC, 1974-78), he earned critical acclaim - as well as the enmity of Paramount Pictures - for his leading role in the cult favorite, "Lifeguard" (1976). But Elliott made his greatest impression in the following decade, particularly as a rough-and-tumble, but good-hearted biker in "Mask" (1985), a performance that brought the actor widespread attention. From there, Elliott went back and forth between television and features, turning in one quality performance after another, many of which were variations on the gruff cowboy or the tough, but wise authority figure. Though initially frustrated with playing virtually the same role in numerous projects, Elliott came to appreciate the fortune given to him. With rock solid supporting performances in "Tombstone" (1993), "The Big Lebowski" (1998), "The Contender" (2000) and "Thank You for Smoking" (2006), Elliott had established himself as one of Hollywood's most prolific and sought-after character actors.