A general utilitarian player on TV and film, Ross Elliott provided clean-cut, reliable support for over four decades. Born Elliott Blum on June 18, 1917 in New York City, Ross grew up in the Bronx and began appearing in plays while a teenage at both summer camps and in high school. He attended New York’s City College upon graduation pursing both law and appearing in the college’s dramatic productions. Acting won out in the long run after he received his degree in 1937.
Following variety show and summer stock work, Elliott became a member of Orson Welles Mercury Theatre and played minor parts on Broadway in “Julius Caesar” (modern version), “The Shoemaker’s Holiday” and “Danton’s Death.” He also was a part of the notorious “War of the Worlds” broadcast on radio in 1938. He also stage toured with Welles in “Five Kings”. His career was interrupted by a tour of duty in the Army. Appearing in several of their touring show, one of the better known was “This Is the Army.” He would also appearing in the Warner Brothers’ film version of This Is the Army (1943).
Elliott returned to professional acting following his honorable discharge and replaced Tom Ewell touring with Walter Huston in “Apple of His Eye”. By 1947 he had relocated to Los Angeles and appeared in his first film The Burning Cross (1947) with a story involving the KKK. His four-decade career would include hundreds of movie and TV roles. His more visible clean-cut appearances occurred in the films Woman on the Run (1950), Hot Lead (1951), Woman in the Dark (1952), Problem Girls (1953), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), Carolina Cannonball (1955), Indestructible Man (1956), Monster on the Campus (1958). Of the scores of parts he played on TV, from the dramas (“Perry Mason,” “Death Valley Days,” “The Adventures of Superman,” “Lassie,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” “Kung Fu,” “The Mod Squad,” “Dallas,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “The A-Team”) to the comedies (“The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Leave It to Beaver,” “Hazel,” “Here’s Lucy,” “The Doris Day Show,” “Phyllis”), Ross will be forever remembered as Lucy Ricardo’s director in the classic Vitameatavegamin commercial episode of “I Love Lucy”. In other “Lucy” episodes he often played Ricky’s publicity agent. He also played Virgil Earp in several episodes of “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp,” appeared frequently as a straight man for Jack Benny on his long-running TV show, and played Sheriff Abbott in many of “The Virginian” segments. After several detours, his career waned in the 1970s and he turned to real estate. His last film was a small role in the Chuck Norris film Scorpion (1986). He died of cancer at age 82 on August 12, 1999, and was cremated.
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