Born on 29th January 1940, in Los Angeles, California, USA, Katharine Ross is an American actress who became part of the entertainment industry when 22 years old. Katharine was raised by her parents, Dudley Tying Ross and Katherine Mullen; Dudley, a New York native, was in the US Navy and also worked for the Associated Press, whereas Katherine was born in Oklahoma and lived in Indiana, Oregon, and San Francisco.
The Ross family eventually settled down in Walnut Creek. Katharine was a skilled horse rider in her youth, and matriculated from Las Lomas High School in 1957; her life changed forever when she began studying at Santa Rosa Junior College, and participated in a production of “The King and I” – the next year she dropped out, and moved to San Francisco to pursue her acting dreams, where she joined The Actors Workshop and famously appeared nude on stage for a risqué role in “The Balcony”.
Katharine’s first TV appearance came in 1962, with a minor role in “Sam Benedict”. One of the actress’s first significant roles came two years later, when John Houseman cast her as Cordelia in a stage production of “King Lear”. During her time with the Workshop, Katharine also acted in small TV series for extra money. She was brought to Hollywood by the production company MGM, but was eventually dropped, and picked up by Universal instead.
After signing to the talent agent Wally Hiller, Katharine appeared in episodes of “Run for Your Life”, “Gunsmoke”, “Mr. Novak” and “Kraft Suspense Theatre” among other shows. She also played Lee Majors’ love interest in an episode of “The Big Valley”.
In 1965, the brunette made her first film appearance playing James Stewart’s daughter-in-law in “Shenandoah”. At the same time, she appeared in “The Wild Wild West” and other shows.
Shortly before her mainstream breakthrough, Katharine was convinced by her friends and colleagues to sign a long-term deal with Universal, despite not wanting a contract in the movies. Despite being let go by MGM, the production company borrowed her for supporting parts in “Mister Buddwing” and “The Singing Nun”.
The first of many career highlights for Katharine came in 1967, when she starred in the TV film “The Longest Hundred Miles” alongside Doug McClure. In the same year, she co-starred in the psychological thriller “Games” with James Caan and Simone Signoret, however, the actress’s most memorable project of the year was her role as Elaine Robinson in the comedy-drama “The Graduate”, co-starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. Katharine’s performance in the movie earned her a Golden Globe Award in the New Star of the Year category, as well as an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Years later, Katharine confirmed that she was inundated with offers after “The Graduate”; however, Universal refused to loan her out to other studios. Eight months later, she played John Wayne’s daughter in “Hellfighters”. Then in August 1968, she signed a new contract with Universal to make two films a year until 1975. After turning down several roles, she played Etta Place in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, co-staring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the title characters; the movie was a huge commercial success which helped boost her career even more.
Despite winning a prestigious BAFTA Award for Best Actress, Katharine was dropped by Universal in early 1969 after turning down a role as a stewardess in “Airport”; the role eventually went to Jacqueline Bisset; this also meant that the brunette missed out on starring in the movie adaptation of “Play It as It Lays”.
After marrying the cinematographer Conrad Hall, Katharine decided to slow down and focus on her marriage and home life, despite accepting occasional roles, including in “Get to Know Your Rabbit”, “Chance and Master”, and “They Only Kill Their Masters”. For the rest of the 1970s, Katharine returned to small Los Angeles playhouses, as she preferred stage acting to movies.
Despite having a reputation for being difficult, Katharine was cast as Joanna Eberhart in “The Stepford Wives”, winning a Saturn Award for Best Actress following her stellar performance. In 1976, she revisited her role as Etta Place for the TV film “Wanted: The Sundance Woman”, then in the next few years, the Los Angeles native explored different genres, adding drama (“Voyage of the Damned”), supernatural horror (“The Legacy”), and disaster films (“The Swarm”) to her portfolio.
Katharine’s career trajectory veered towards TV movies from 1979 onwards, such as “Murder in Texas”, “Marian Rose White”, and “Murder by Natural Causes”. However, she also enjoyed supporting roles in the movies “Wrong Is Right” and “The Final Countdown”, and played Francesca Scott Colby in “The Colbys” from 1985 to 1987.
Katharine’s career slowed down somewhat in the 1990s and 2000s, as she became more selective in accepting roles. Some of the movies and independent films she appeared in during that time include “Home Before Dark”, “Donnie Darko”, and “Eye of the Dolphin”. Her last movie appearance to date came in 2017, when she played Sam Elliott’s former wife in “The Hero”; the actress retired two years later, after over five decades in the entertainment industry.
Fans of the Golden Globe winner were horrified to learn that she had been stabbed by her daughter Cleo six times with a pair of scissors. Katharine reportedly filed a restraining order against Cleo in September 2022, claiming that her daughter had been verbally abusive since her childhood years, but became increasingly violent as she entered her adolescence.
According to court documents, Cleo lost her temper during an incident that took place in March 2022, and told her mother that she wanted to kill her. She then began following Katharine around the house; when the latter tried to call the police, Cleo allegedly cut the phone line with a pair of scissors, threatened her mother, and stabbed her six times in the right arm forcefully enough to leave visible marks.
To this day, it remains unclear what may have instigated the incident. Katharine filed a protective order on 8th March 2022 without an attorney; Cleo was thereafter ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from her mother’s home, car, and workplace, and to avoid contacting her. Court documents also stated that police officers must be present if Cleo needed to pick-up her belongings from the family home.
Just months after Katharine was granted a restraining order against Cleo, the mother-daughter duo appeared to have patched things up for Christmas Day, as Cleo shared an Instagram photo of her bonding with the former actress while building a puzzle. The current state of Katharine and Cleo’s relationship is unknown, but they’re believed to be on good terms, and have worked on their issues in private.