Katharine Juliet Ross (born January 29, 1940) is an American film and stage actress. Trained at the San Francisco Workshop, she is perhaps best known for her role as Elaine Robinson in the 1967 film The Graduate, opposite Dustin Hoffman, and her role as Etta Place in 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, opposite Paul Newman and Robert Redford. She has also established herself as an author, publishing several children's books.
She studied at Santa Rosa Junior College for a year, where she had her introduction to acting in a production of The King and I. She dropped out of the course and moved to San Francisco to study acting. She joined The Actors Workshop and was with them for three years working as an understudy; for one role in Jean Genet's The Balcony she appeared nude on stage, and in 1964 she was cast by John Houseman as Cordelia in a production of King Lear. While at the Workshop, she began acting bit parts in television series in Los Angeles to earn extra money. She was brought to Hollywood by Metro, dropped, then picked up by Universal.
Her first television role was in Sam Benedict in 1962. In 1964, Ross appeared in episodes of The Virginian and Gunsmoke, and made her first film, Shenandoah, followed by a starring role in Mister Buddwing with MGM in 1965. In 1966, she appeared in the episode "To Light a Candle" of Barry Sullivan's NBC Western The Road West. That year, she had her first major role in the film Games. Then came her breakout roles in two of cinema's most popular films, Elaine in The Graduate (1967) and Etta Place in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). After appearing as Dustin Hoffman's girlfriend Elaine in The Graduate, a part for which she received an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe as most promising female newcomer, she said that "I'm not a movie star... that system is dying and I'd like to help it along." She also won a BAFTA for her part as an Indian in Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969). She turned down several roles before accepting the part in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and then turned down several more roles, including a part in Towering Inferno. She was dropped by Universal in the spring of 1969 for refusing to play a stewardess in Airport, a role that went to Jacqueline Bisset. She preferred stage acting, returning to the small playhouses in LA for much of the 1970s. One of her best-known roles came in 1975's The Stepford Wives, for which she won the Saturn Award for Best Actress. She reprised the role of Etta Place in a 1976 ABC TV movie, Wanted: The Sundance Woman, and then won a Golden Globe for best supporting actress for her part in 1977's Voyage of the Damned; as of 2008, she is the only winner to not get an Oscar nomination for the same performance.