Clinton “Clint” Eastwood Jr. (born May 31, 1930) is an American actor, filmmaker, musician, and political figure. After earning success in the Western TV series Rawhide, he rose to international fame with his role as the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone‘s Dollars trilogy of spaghetti Westerns during the 1960s, and as antihero cop Harry Callahan in the five Dirty Harry films throughout the 1970s and 1980s. These roles, among others, have made Eastwood an enduring cultural icon of masculinity.
For his work in the Western film Unforgiven (1992) and the sports drama Million Dollar Baby (2004), Eastwood won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture, as well as receiving nominations for Best Actor. Eastwood’s greatest commercial successes have been the adventure comedy Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and its sequel, the action comedy Any Which Way You Can (1980), after adjustment for inflation.
Other popular films include the Western The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (1966), Hang ‘Em High (1968), the psychological thriller Play Misty for Me (1971), the crime film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), the Western The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), the prison film Escape from Alcatraz (1979), the action film Firefox (1982), the suspense thriller Tightrope (1984), the Western Pale Rider (1985), the war films Where Eagles Dare (1968) and Heartbreak Ridge (1986), the action thriller In the Line of Fire (1993), the romantic drama The Bridges of Madison County (1995), and the drama Gran Torino (2008).
In addition to directing many of his own star vehicles, Eastwood has also directed films in which he did not appear, such as the mystery drama Mystic River (2003) and the war film Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), for which he received Academy Award nominations, and the drama Changeling (2008). The war drama biopic American Sniper (2014) set box office records for the largest January release ever and was also the largest opening ever for an Eastwood film.
Eastwood received considerable critical praise in France for several films, including some that were not well received in the United States. Eastwood has been awarded two of France’s highest honors: in 1994 he became a recipient of the Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2007 he was awarded the Legion of Honour medal. In 2000, Eastwood was awarded the Italian Venice Film Festival Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.
Since 1967, Eastwood has run his own production company, Malpaso, which has produced all except four of his American films. From 1986–88, Eastwood served as Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, a non-partisan office.
Eastwood was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr. (1906–1970) and his wife, Margaret Ruth (née Runner) Eastwood (1909–2006). He was nicknamed “Samson” by the hospital nurses because he weighed 11 pounds 6 ounces (5.2 kg) at birth. He has a younger sister, Jeanne (born 1934). Eastwood’s widowed mother later married a retired lumber executive, John Belden Wood (1913–2004), who became stepfather to Clint and Jeanne.
Eastwood is of English, Irish, Scottish, and Dutch ancestry, and was raised in a working class environment. Eastwood is descended from Mayflower passenger William Bradford, and through this line is the 12th generation of his family born in North America and the 13th generation to live in North America.
His family moved often as his father worked at jobs along the West Coast. They finally settled in Piedmont, California, where Eastwood attended Piedmont Junior High School. Shortly before he was to enter Piedmont High School, he rode his bike on the school’s sports field and tore up the wet turf; this resulted in his being asked not to enroll. Instead, he attended Oakland Technical High School, where the drama teachers encouraged him to take part in school plays. However, Eastwood was not interested. He worked at a number of jobs, including lifeguard, paper carrier, grocery clerk, forest firefighter, and golf caddy.
In 1951, Eastwood enrolled at Seattle University but was then drafted into the United States Army and assigned to Fort Ord in California, where he was appointed as a lifeguard and swimming instructor. While returning from a weekend visit to his parents in Seattle, Washington, he was a passenger on a Douglas AD bomber that ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean near Point Reyes. Escaping from the sinking aircraft, he and the pilot swam three miles (5 km) to safety.
1950s: Early career struggles
According to the CBS press release for Rawhide, the Universal (known then as Universal-International) film company was shooting in Fort Ord when an enterprising assistant spotted Eastwood and invited him to meet the director. According to Eastwood’s official biography, the key figure was a man named Chuck Hill, who was stationed in Fort Ord and had contacts in Hollywood. While in Los Angeles, Hill became reacquainted with Eastwood and managed to sneak Eastwood into a Universal studio, where he showed him to cameraman Irving Glassberg. Glassberg arranged for an audition under Arthur Lubin, who, although very impressed with Clint’s appearance and stature at 6’4″ (193 cm), disapproved initially of his acting skills, remarking, “He was quite amateurish. He didn’t know which way to turn or which way to go or do anything.” Lubin suggested that he attend drama classes and arranged for Eastwood’s initial contract in April 1954, at $100 per week. After signing, Eastwood was initially criticized for his stiff manner and delivering his lines through his teeth, a lifelong trademark.
In May 1954, Eastwood made his first real audition for Six Bridges to Cross but was rejected by Joseph Pevney. After many unsuccessful auditions, he was eventually given a minor role by director Jack Arnold in Revenge of the Creature (1955), a sequel to the recently released The Creature from the Black Lagoon. In September 1954, Eastwood worked for three weeks on Arthur Lubin’s Lady Godiva of Coventry, won a role in February 1955, playing “Jonesy”, a sailor in Francis in the Navy and appeared uncredited in another Jack Arnold film, Tarantula, where he played a squadron pilot.
In May 1955, Eastwood put four hours’ work into the film Never Say Goodbye and had a minor uncredited role as a ranch hand (his first western film) in August 1955 with Law Man, also known as Star in the Dust. Universal presented him with his first television role on July 2, 1955, on NBC‘s Allen in Movieland, which starred Tony Curtis and Benny Goodman. Although he continued to develop as an actor, Universal terminated his contract on October 23, 1955.
Eastwood joined the Marsh Agency, and although Lubin landed him his biggest role to date in The First Traveling Saleslady (1956) and later hired him for Escapade in Japan, without a formal contract Eastwood was struggling. Upon the advice of Irving Leonard, his financial advisor, he changed talent agencies to the Kumin-Olenick Agency in 1956 and Mitchell Gertz in 1957. He landed several small roles in 1956 as a temperamental army officer for a segment of ABC‘s Reader’s Digest series, and as a motorcycle gang member on a Highway Patrol episode. In 1957, Eastwood played a cadet in West Point series, played a suicidal gold prospector in Death Valley Days. In 1958, he played a Navy lieutenant in a segment of Navy Log and in early 1959 made a notable guest appearance on Maverick opposite James Garner as a cowardly villain intent on marrying a rich girl for money. Eastwood had a small part as an aviator in the French picture Lafayette Escadrille and played a major role as an ex-renegade of the Confederacy in Ambush at Cimarron Pass, a film which Eastwood viewed disastrously and professes to be the lowest point of his career.
In 1958, Eastwood was cast as Rowdy Yates for the CBS hour-long western series Rawhide, the breakthrough in his career he had long been searching for. However, Eastwood was not especially happy with his character; Eastwood was almost 30, and Rowdy was too young and too cloddish for Clint to feel comfortable with the part. Filming began in Arizona in the summer of 1958. It took just three weeks for Rawhide to reach the top 20 in TV ratings and although it never won an Emmy, it was a major success for several years, and reached its peak at number six in the ratings between October 1960 and April 1961. The Rawhide years (1959–65) were some of the most grueling of Eastwood’s career, often filming six days a week for an average of twelve hours a day, yet he still received criticism by some directors for not working hard enough.
By late 1963 Rawhide was beginning to decline in popularity and lacked freshness in the script; it was canceled in the middle of the 1965–66 television season. Eastwood made his first attempt at directing when he filmed several trailers for the show, although he was unable to convince producers to let him direct an episode. In the show’s first season Eastwood earned $750 an episode. At the time of Rawhide‘s cancellation, he received $119,000 an episode as severance pay.
In late 1963, Eastwood’s co-star on Rawhide, Eric Fleming, rejected an offer to star in an Italian-made western called A Fistful of Dollars, to be directed in a remote region of Spain by the then relatively unknown Sergio Leone. Richard Harrison suggested Eastwood to Leone because Harrison knew Eastwood could play a cowboy convincingly. Eastwood thought the film would be an opportunity to escape from his Rawhide image. Eastwood signed a contract for $15,000 in wages for eleven weeks’ work, with a bonus of a Mercedes automobile upon completion.
Eastwood later spoke of the transition from a television western to A Fistful of Dollars: “In Rawhide I did get awfully tired of playing the conventional white hat. The hero who kisses old ladies and dogs and was kind to everybody. I decided it was time to be an anti-hero.” Eastwood was instrumental in creating the Man with No Name character’s distinctive visual style and, although a non-smoker, Leone insisted Eastwood smoke cigars as an essential ingredient of the “mask” he was attempting to create for the loner character.
A Fistful of Dollars proved a landmark in the development of spaghetti Westerns, with Leone depicting a more lawless and desolate world than traditional westerns, and challenging American stereotypes of a western hero with a morally ambiguous antihero. The film’s success made Eastwood a major star in Italy and he was re-hired to star in For a Few Dollars More (1965), the second of the trilogy. Through the efforts of screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni, the rights to For a Few Dollars More and the final film of the trilogy (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) were sold to United Artists for about $900,000.
In January 1966, Eastwood met producer Dino De Laurentiis in New York City and agreed to star in a non-Western five-part anthology production named Le Streghe (“The Witches”) opposite De Laurentiis’ wife, actress Silvana Mangano. Eastwood’s nineteen-minute installment took only a few days to shoot, but his performance did not please the critics, one writing that “no other performance of his is quite so ‘un-Clintlike’.” Two months later Eastwood began work on the third Dollars film, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, again playing the mysterious Man with No Name. Lee Van Cleef returned as a ruthless fortune seeker, with Eli Wallach portraying the cunning Mexican bandit Tuco Ramirez. The storyline involved the search for a cache of Confederate gold buried in a cemetery. During the filming of a scene in which a bridge was blown up, Eastwood urged Wallach to retreat to a hilltop. “I know about these things,” he said. “Stay as far away from special effects and explosives as you can.” Minutes later confusion among the crew over the word “Vaya!” resulted in a premature explosion that could have killed Wallach.
“I wanted to play it with an economy of words and create this whole feeling through attitude and movement. It was just the kind of character I had envisioned for a long time, keep to the mystery and allude to what happened in the past. It came about after the frustration of doing Rawhide for so long. I felt the less he said, the stronger he became and the more he grew in the imagination of the audience.”
— Eastwood, on playing the Man with No Name character
The Dollars trilogy was not released in the United States until 1967, when A Fistful of Dollars opened in January, followed by For a Few Dollars More in May, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on December 29, 1967. All the films were commercially successful, particularly The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, which eventually earned $8 million in rental earnings and turned Eastwood into a major film star. All three films received bad reviews, and marked the beginning of a battle for Eastwood to win American film critics’ respect. Judith Crist described A Fistful of Dollars as “cheapjack,” while Newsweek considered For a Few Dollars More as “excruciatingly dopey.”
Renata Adler of The New York Times said The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was “…the most expensive, pious and repellent movie in the history of its peculiar genre.” Time magazine drew attention to the film’s wooden acting, especially on the part of Eastwood, though a few critics such as Vincent Canby and Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised Eastwood’s coolness in playing the tall, lone stranger. Leone’s cinematography was widely acclaimed, even by critics who disparaged the acting in the film.
Stardom brought more roles for Eastwood. He signed to star in the American revisionist western Hang ‘Em High (1968), featured alongside Inger Stevens, Pat Hingle, Dennis Hopper, Ed Begley, Alan Hale, Ben Johnson, Bruce Dern, and James MacArthur, playing a man who takes up a Marshal’s badge and seeks revenge as a lawman after being lynched by vigilantes and left for dead. The film earned Eastwood a fee of $400,000 and 25 percent of its net box-office takings. Using money earned from the Dollars trilogy, accountant and Eastwood advisor Irving Leonard helped establish Eastwood’s own production company, Malpaso Productions, named after Malpaso Creek on Eastwood’s property in Monterey County, California. Leonard arranged for Hang ‘Em High to be a joint production with United Artists; when it opened in July 1968, it had the largest opening weekend in United Artists’ history. Hang ‘Em High was widely praised by critics, including Archer Winsten of the New York Post, who described it as, “a western of quality, courage, danger and excitement.”
Before the release of Hang ‘Em High, Eastwood had already begun working on Coogan’s Bluff, about an Arizona deputy sheriff tracking a wanted psychopathic criminal (Don Stroud) through the streets of New York City. He was reunited with Universal Studios for it after receiving an offer of $1 million—more than double his previous salary. Jennings Lang arranged for Eastwood to meet Don Siegel, a Universal contract director who later became Eastwood’s close friend, forming a partnership that would last more than ten years and produce five films. Shooting began in November 1967, before the script had been finalized. The film was controversial for its portrayal of violence. Coogan’s Bluff also became the first collaboration with Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin, who would later compose the jazzy score to several Eastwood films in the 1970s and 1980s, including the Dirty Harry films.
Eastwood was paid $750,000 in 1968 for the war epic Where Eagles Dare, about a World War II squad parachuting into a Gestapo stronghold in the alpine mountains. Richard Burton played the squad’s commander, with Eastwood as his right-hand man. Eastwood was also cast as Two-Face in the Batman television show, but the series was canceled before filming began.
Eastwood then branched out to star in the only musical of his career, Paint Your Wagon (1969). Eastwood and Lee Marvin play gold miners who buy a Mormon settler’s less favored wife (Jean Seberg) at an auction. Bad weather and delays plagued the production, while the film’s budget eventually exceeded $20 million, which was extremely expensive for the time. The film was not a critical or commercial success, although it was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
In 1970, Eastwood starred with Shirley MacLaine in the western Two Mules for Sister Sara, directed by Don Siegel. The film follows an American mercenary, who gets mixed up with a prostitute disguised as a nun, and ends up helping a group of Juarista rebels during the reign of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. Eastwood once again played a mysterious stranger—unshaven, wearing a serape-like vest, and smoking a cigar. Although it received moderate reviews, the film is listed in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made. Later the same year, Eastwood starred as one of a group of Americans who steal a fortune in gold from the Nazis, in the World War II film Kelly’s Heroes, with Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas. Kelly’s Heroes was the last film Eastwood appeared in that was not produced by his own Malpaso Productions.
Filming commenced in July 1969 on location in Yugoslavia and in London. The film received mostly a positive reception and its anti-war sentiments were recognized. In the winter of 1969–70, Eastwood and Siegel began planning his next film, The Beguiled, a tale of a wounded Union soldier, held captive by the sexually repressed matron (played by Geraldine Page) of a Southern girls’ school. Upon release the film received major recognition in France and is considered one of Eastwood’s finest works by the French. However, it grossed less than $1 million and, according to Eastwood and Lang, flopped due to poor publicity and the “emasculated” role of Eastwood.
Eastwood’s career reached a turning point in 1971. Before Irving Leonard died, he and Eastwood had discussed the idea of Malpaso producing Play Misty for Me, a film that was to give Eastwood the artistic control he desired, and his debut as a director. The script was about a jazz disc jockey named Dave (Eastwood), who has a casual affair with Evelyn (Jessica Walter), a listener who had been calling the radio station repeatedly at night, asking him to play her favorite song – Erroll Garner‘s Misty. When Dave ends their relationship, the unhinged Evelyn becomes a murderous stalker. Filming commenced in Monterey in September 1970 and included footage of that year’s Monterey Jazz Festival. The film was highly acclaimed with critics, such as Jay Cocks in Time magazine, Andrew Sarris in the Village Voice, and Archer Winsten in the New York Post all praising the film, as well as Eastwood’s directorial skills and performance. Walter was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actress Award (Drama), for her performance in the film.
“I know what you’re thinking – Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But, being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”
— Eastwood, in Dirty Harry
Dirty Harry (1971), written by Harry and Rita Fink, centers on a hard-edged New York City (later changed to San Francisco) police inspector named Harry Callahan who is determined to stop a psychotic killer by any means. Dirty Harry has been described as being arguably Eastwood’s most memorable character, and the film has been credited with inventing the “loose-cannon cop” genre. Author Eric Lichtenfeld argues that Eastwood’s role as Dirty Harry established the “first true archetype” of the action film genre. His lines are regarded by firearms historians, such as Garry James and Richard Venola, as the force that catapulted the ownership of .44 Magnum revolvers to new heights in the United States; specifically the Smith & Wesson Model 29 carried by Harry Callahan. Dirty Harry achieved huge success after its release in December 1971, earning $22 million in the United States and Canada alone. It was Siegel’s highest-grossing film and the start of a series of films featuring the character Harry Callahan. Although a number of critics praised Eastwood’s performance as Dirty Harry, such as Jay Cocks of Time magazine who described him as “…giving his best performance so far, tense, tough, full of implicit identification with his character,” the film was also widely criticized as being fascistic.
Following Sean Connery‘s announcement that he would not play James Bond again, Eastwood was offered the role but turned it down because he believed the character should be played by an English actor. He next starred in the loner Western Joe Kidd (1972), based on a character inspired by Reies Lopez Tijerina, who stormed a courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico in June 1967. During filming, Eastwood suffered symptoms of a bronchial infection and several panic attacks. Joe Kidd received a mixed reception, with Roger Greenspun of The New York Times writing that it was unremarkable, with foolish symbolism and sloppy editing, although he praised Eastwood’s performance.
In 1973, Eastwood directed his first western, High Plains Drifter, in which he also starred. The film had a moral and supernatural theme, later emulated in Pale Rider. The plot follows a mysterious stranger (Eastwood) who arrives in a brooding Western town where the people hire him to protect them against three soon-to-be-released felons. There remains confusion during the film as to whether the stranger is the brother of the deputy, whom the felons lynched and murdered, or his ghost. Holes in the plot were filled with black humor and allegory, influenced by Leone. The revisionist film received a mixed reception, but was a major box office success. A number of critics thought Eastwood’s directing was “as derivative as it was expressive,” with Arthur Knight of the Saturday Review remarking that Eastwood had “…absorbed the approaches of Siegel and Leone and fused them with his own paranoid vision of society.” John Wayne, who had declined a role in the film, sent a letter to Eastwood soon after the film’s release in which he complained that, “The townspeople did not represent the true spirit of the American pioneer, the spirit that made America great.”
Eastwood next turned his attention towards Breezy (1973), a film about love blossoming between a middle-aged man and a teenage girl. During casting for the film Eastwood met Sondra Locke for the first time, an actress who would play major roles in six of his films over the next ten years and would become an important figure in his life. Kay Lenz got the part of Breezy because Locke, at age 29, was considered too old. The film, shot very quickly and efficiently by Eastwood and Frank Stanley, came in $1 million under budget and was finished three days ahead of schedule. Breezy was not a major critical or commercial success and it was only made available on video in 1998.
Once filming of Breezy had finished, Warners announced that Eastwood had agreed to reprise his role as Callahan in Magnum Force (1973), a sequel to Dirty Harry, about a group of rogue young officers (among them David Soul, Robert Urich and Tim Matheson) in the San Francisco Police Department who systematically exterminate the city’s worst criminals. Although the film was a major success after release, grossing $58.1 million in the United States (a record for Eastwood), it was not a critical success. The New York Times critic Nora Sayre panned the often contradictory moral themes of the film, while the paper’s Frank Rich called it “the same old stuff.”
In 1974, Eastwood teamed up with Jeff Bridges and George Kennedy in the buddy action caper Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, a road movie about a veteran bank robber Thunderbolt (Eastwood) and a young con man drifter, Lightfoot (Bridges). On its release, in spring 1974, the film was praised for its offbeat comedy mixed with high suspense and tragedy but was only a modest success at the box office, earning $32.4 million. Eastwood’s acting was noted by critics, but was overshadowed by Bridges who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Eastwood reportedly fumed at the lack of Academy Award recognition for him and swore that he would never work for United Artists again.
Eastwood’s next film The Eiger Sanction (1975) was based on Trevanian‘s critically acclaimed spy novel of the same name. Eastwood plays Jonathan Hemlock in a role originally intended for Paul Newman, an assassin turned college art professor who decides to return to his former profession for one last “sanction” in return for a rare Pissarro painting. In the process he must climb the north face of the Eiger in Switzerland under perilous conditions. Mike Hoover taught Eastwood how to climb during several weeks of preparation at Yosemite in the summer of 1974 before filming commenced in Grindelwald, Switzerland on August 12, 1974. Despite prior warnings about the perils of the Eiger the film crew suffered a number of accidents, including one fatality. Despite the danger, Eastwood insisted on doing all his own climbing and stunts. Upon release in May 1975 The Eiger Sanction was a commercial failure, receiving only $23.8 million at the box office, and was poorly received by most critics. Joy Gould Boyum of the Wall Street Journal dismissed the film as “brutal fantasy.” Eastwood blamed Universal Studios for the film’s poor promotion and turned his back on them to make an agreement with Warner Brothers, through Frank Wells, that has lasted to the present day.
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), a western inspired by Asa Carter‘s 1972 novel of the same name, has lead character Josey Wales (Eastwood) as a pro-Confederate guerilla who refuses to surrender his arms after the American Civil War and is chased across the old southwest by a group of enforcers. Eastwood’s costars were Locke (for the first time) and Chief Dan George. Director Philip Kaufman was fired by producer Bob Daley under Eastwood’s command, resulting in a fine reported to be around $60,000 from the Directors Guild of America—who subsequently passed new legislation reserving the right to impose a major fine on a producer for discharging and replacing a director. The film was pre-screened at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and Humanities in Idaho during a six-day conference entitled Western Movies: Myths and Images. Invited to the screening were a number of esteemed film critics, including Jay Cocks and Arthur Knight; directors such as King Vidor, William Wyler, and Howard Hawks; and a number of academics.
Upon release in the summer of 1976 The Outlaw Josey Wales was widely acclaimed, with many critics and viewers seeing Eastwood’s role as an iconic one that related to America’s ancestral past and the destiny of the nation after the American Civil War. Roger Ebert compared the nature and vulnerability of Eastwood’s portrayal of Josey Wales with his Man with No Name character in the Dollars westerns and praised the film’s atmosphere.] The film would later appear in Time‘s “Top 10 Films of the Year.”
Eastwood was then offered the role of Benjamin L. Willard in Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, but declined as he did not want to spend weeks on location in the Philippines. He also refused the part of a platoon leader in Ted Post‘s Vietnam War film, Go Tell the Spartans and instead decided to make a third Dirty Harry film, The Enforcer. The film had Callahan partnered with a new female officer (Tyne Daly) to face a San Francisco Bay area group resembling the Symbionese Liberation Army. The film, culminating in a shootout on Alcatraz island, was considerably shorter than the previous Dirty Harry films at 95 minutes, but was a major commercial success grossing $100 million worldwide to become Eastwood’s highest-grossing film to date.
In 1977, he directed and starred in The Gauntlet opposite Locke, Pat Hingle, William Prince, Bill McKinney, and Mara Corday. Eastwood portrays a down-and-out cop assigned to escort a prostitute from Las Vegas to Phoenix to testify against the mafia. Although a moderate hit with the viewing public, critics had mixed feelings about the film, with many believing it was overly violent. Ebert, in contrast, gave the film three stars and called it “… classic Clint Eastwood: fast, furious, and funny.”
The following year, he starred in Every Which Way But Loose in an uncharacteristic offbeat comedy role. He played Philo Beddoe, a trucker and brawler who roams the American West searching for a lost love (Locke) accompanied by his brother (played by Geoffrey Lewis) and an orangutan called Clyde. The film proved surprisingly successful upon its release and became Eastwood’s most commercially successful film up to that time. Panned by critics, it ranked high among the box office successes of his career and was the second-highest-grossing film of 1978.
Eastwood starred in Escape from Alcatraz in 1979, the last of his films directed by Siegel. It was based on the true story of Frank Lee Morris who, along with John and Clarence Anglin, escaped from the notorious Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in 1962. The film was a major success; Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic praised it as “crystalline cinema” and Frank Rich of Time described it as “cool, cinematic grace.”
In 1980, Eastwood directed and played the title role in Bronco Billy alongside Locke, Scatman Crothers, and Sam Bottoms. Eastwood has cited Bronco Billy as being one of the most relaxed shoots of his career and biographer Richard Schickel has argued that Bronco Billy is Eastwood’s most self-referential character. The film was a rare commercial disappointment in Eastwood’s career, but was liked by critics. Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that film was “…the best and funniest Clint Eastwood movie in quite a while”, and praised Eastwood’s directing, intricately juxtaposing the old West and the new West. Later that year, Eastwood starred in Any Which Way You Can, the sequel to Every Which Way But Loose. The film received a number of bad reviews from critics, although Maslin described it as “funnier and even better than its predecessor.” Released over the Christmas season of 1980, Any Which Way You Can was a major box office success and ranked among the top five highest-grossing films of the year.
In 1982, Eastwood directed and starred in Honkytonk Man, based on the eponymous Clancy Carlile‘s depression-era novel. Eastwood portrays a struggling western singer Red Stovall who suffers from tuberculosis, but has finally been given an opportunity to make it big at the Grand Ole Opry. He is accompanied by his young nephew (played by real-life son Kyle) to Nashville, Tennessee, where he is supposed to record a song. Only Time gave the film a good review in the United States, with most reviewers criticizing its blend of muted humor and tragedy. Nevertheless, the film received critical acclaim in France, where it was compared to John Ford‘s The Grapes of Wrath, and it has since acquired the very high rating of 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. In the same year Eastwood directed, produced, and starred in the Cold War-themed Firefox. Based on a 1977 novel with the same name written by Craig Thomas, the film was shot before but released after Honkeytonk Man. Russian filming locations were not possible due to the Cold War, and the film had to be shot in Vienna and other locations in Austria to simulate many of the Eurasian story locations. With a production cost of $20 million, it was Eastwood’s highest budget film to date. People magazine likened Eastwood’s performance to “Luke Skywalker trapped in Dirty Harry’s Soul.”
Eastwood directed and starred in the fourth Dirty Harry film, Sudden Impact, which was shot in the spring and summer of 1983 and is considered the darkest and most violent of the series. By this time Eastwood received 60 percent of all profits from films he starred in and directed, with the rest going to the studio. Sudden Impact was his final on-screen collaboration with Locke. She plays an artist who, along with her sister, was gang-raped a decade before the story takes place and seeks revenge for her sister’s now-vegetative state by systematically murdering the rapists. The line “Go ahead, make my day“ (uttered by Eastwood during an early scene in a coffee shop) has been cited as one of cinema’s immortal lines. It was quoted by President Ronald Reagan in a speech to Congress, and used during the 1984 presidential elections. The film was the second most commercially successful of the Dirty Harry films, after The Enforcer, earning $70 million. It received very positive reviews, with many critics praising the feminist aspects of the film through its explorations of the physical and psychological consequences of rape.
Tightrope (1984) had Eastwood starring opposite Geneviève Bujold in a provocative thriller, inspired by newspaper articles about an elusive Bay Area rapist. Set in New Orleans to avoid confusion with the Dirty Harry films, Eastwood played a divorced cop drawn into his target’s tortured psychology and fascination for sadomasochism.
Tightrope was a critical and commercial hit and became the fourth highest-grossing R-rated film of 1984. Eastwood next starred in the crime comedy City Heat (1984) alongside Burt Reynolds, a film about a private eye and his partner who get mixed up with gangsters in the prohibition era of the 1930s. The film grossed around $50 million domestically, but was overshadowed by Eddie Murphy‘s Beverly Hills Cop.
“Westerns. A period gone by, the pioneer, the loner operating by himself, without benefit of society. It usually has something to do with some sort of vengeance; he takes care of the vengeance himself, doesn’t call the police. Like Robin Hood. It’s the last masculine frontier. Romantic myth, I guess, though it’s hard to think about anything romantic today. In a Western you can think, Jesus, there was a time when man was alone, on horseback, out there where man hasn’t spoiled the land yet.”
— Eastwood, on the philosophical allure of portraying western loners
Eastwood made his only foray into TV direction with the 1985 Amazing Stories episode Vanessa in the Garden, which starred Harvey Keitel and Locke. This was his first collaboration with Steven Spielberg, who later co-produced Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. He would revisit the Western genre when he directed and starred in Pale Rider (1985), a film based on the classic 1953 western Shane and follows a preacher descending from the mists of the Sierras to side with the miners during the California Gold Rush of 1850. The title is a reference to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as the rider of the pale horse is Death, and shows similarities to Eastwood’s 1973 western High Plains Drifter in its themes of morality and justice as well as its exploration of the supernatural. Pale Rider became one of Eastwood’s most successful films to date. It was hailed as one of the best films of 1985 and the best western to appear for a considerable period, with Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune remarking, “This year (1985) will go down in film history as the moment Clint Eastwood finally earned respect as an artist.”
In 1986, Eastwood co-starred with Marsha Mason in the military drama Heartbreak Ridge, about the 1983 United States invasion of Grenada. He portrays an United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam War who realizes he is nearing the end of his military service. Production and filming were marred by internal disagreements between Eastwood and long-time friend and producer Fritz Manes, as well as between Eastwood and the United States Department of Defense who expressed contempt for the film. At the time, the film was a commercial rather than a critical success, and has only come to be viewed more favorably in recent times. The film grossed $70 million domestically.
Eastwood starred in The Dead Pool (1988), the fifth and final film in the Dirty Harry series. It co-starred Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, and a young Jim Carrey who plays Johnny Squares, a drug-addled rock star and the first of the victims on a list of celebrities drawn up by horror film director Peter Swan (Neeson) who are deemed most likely to die, the so-called “Dead Pool.” The list is stolen by an obsessed fan who, in mimicking his favorite director, makes his way through the list killing off celebrities, of which Dirty Harry is also included. The Dead Pool grossed nearly $38 million, relatively low receipts for a Dirty Harry film. It is generally viewed as the weakest film of the series, though Roger Ebert thought it was as good as the original.
Eastwood began working on smaller, more personal projects and experienced a lull in his career between 1988 and 1992. Always interested in jazz, he directed Bird (1988), a biopic starring Forest Whitaker as jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker. Alto saxophonist Jackie McLean and Spike Lee, son of jazz bassist Bill Lee and a long time critic of Eastwood, criticized the characterization of Charlie Parker remarking that it did not capture his true essence and sense of humor.
Eastwood received two Golden Globes for the film, the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his lifelong contribution, and the Best Director award. However, Bird was a commercial failure, earning just $11 million, which Eastwood attributed to the declining interest in jazz among black people. Carrey would appear with Eastwood again in the poorly received comedy Pink Cadillac (1989). The film is about a bounty hunter and a group of white supremacists chasing an innocent woman (Bernadette Peters) who tries to outrun everyone in her husband’s prized pink Cadillac. The film failed both critically and commercially, earning barely more than Bird and marking a low point in Eastwood’s career.
Eastwood directed and starred in White Hunter Black Heart (1990), an adaptation of Peter Viertel‘s roman à clef, about John Huston and the making of the classic film The African Queen. Shot on location in Zimbabwe in the summer of 1989, the film received some critical attention but with only a limited release earned just $8.4 million. Later in 1990, Eastwood directed and co-starred with Charlie Sheen in The Rookie, a buddy cop action film. Critics found the film’s plot and characterization unconvincing, but praised its action sequences. An ongoing lawsuit, in response to Eastwood allegedly ramming a woman’s car, resulted in no Eastwood films being shown in cinemas in 1991. Eastwood won the suit and agreed to pay the complainant’s legal fees if she did not appeal.
“…if possible, he looks even taller, leaner and more mysteriously possessed than he did in Sergio Leone’s seminal Fistful of Dollars a quarter of a century ago. The years haven’t softened him. They have given him the presence of some fierce force of nature, which may be why the landscapes of the mythic, late 19th-century West become him, never more so than in his new Unforgiven…. This is his richest, most satisfying performance since the underrated, politically lunatic Heartbreak Ridge. There’s no one like him.”
— Vincent Canby of The New York Times, on Eastwood’s performance in Unforgiven
In 1992, Eastwood revisited the western genre in his film Unforgiven, which he directed and in which he starred as an aging ex-gunfighter long past his prime. Scripts existed for the film as early as 1976 under titles such as The Cut-Whore Killings and The William Munny Killings but Eastwood delayed the project because he wanted to wait until he was old enough to play his character and to savor it as the last of his western films. Unforgiven was a major commercial and critical success; Jack Methews of the Los Angeles Times described it as “the finest classical western to come along since perhaps John Ford’s 1956 The Searchers. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, (including Best Actor for Eastwood and Best Original Screenplay for David Webb Peoples) and won four, including Best Picture and Best Director for Eastwood. In June 2008 Unforgiven was ranked as the fourth-best American western, behind Shane, High Noon, and The Searchers, in the American Film Institute‘s “AFI’s 10 Top 10” list.
Eastwood played Frank Horrigan in the Secret Service thriller In the Line of Fire (1993), directed by Wolfgang Petersen and co-starring John Malkovich and Rene Russo. Horrigan is a guilt-ridden Secret Service agent haunted by his failure to save John F. Kennedy‘s life. The film was among the top 10 box office performers in that year, earning $102 million in the United States alone.
Later in 1993, he directed and co-starred alongside Kevin Costner in A Perfect World. Set in the 1960s, Eastwood plays a Texas Ranger in pursuit of an escaped convict (Costner) who hits the road with a young boy (T.J. Lowther). Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that the film marked the highest point of Eastwood’s directing career, and the film has since been cited as one of his most underrated directorial achievements.
At the May 1994 Cannes Film Festival Eastwood received France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal, and on March 27, 1995, he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the 67th Academy Awards. His next film appearance was in a cameo role as himself in the 1995 children’s film Casper. Later that same year he expanded his repertoire by playing opposite Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County. Based on the novel by Robert James Waller, the film relates the story of Robert Kincaid (Eastwood), a photographer working for National Geographic, who has an affair with a middle-aged Italian farm wife, Francesca (Streep). Despite the novel receiving unfavorable reviews and a subject deemed potentially unsuitable for film, The Bridges of Madison County was a commercial and critical success. Roger Ebert wrote, “Streep and Eastwood weave a spell, and it is based on that particular knowledge of love and self that comes with middle age.” The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture and won a César Award in France for Best Foreign Film. Streep was also nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
In 1997, Eastwood directed and starred in the political thriller Absolute Power, alongside Gene Hackman (with whom he had appeared in Unforgiven). Eastwood played the role of a veteran thief who witnesses the Secret Service cover up of a murder. The film received a mixed reception from critics. Later in 1997, Eastwood directed Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, based on the novel by John Berendt and starring John Cusack, Kevin Spacey, and Jude Law. The film met with a mixed critical response.
“The roles that Eastwood has played, and the films that he has directed, cannot be disentangled from the nature of the American culture of the last quarter century, its fantasies and its realities.”
— Author Edward Gallafent, commenting on Eastwood’s impact on film from the 1970s to 1990s
Eastwood directed and starred in True Crime (1999). He plays Steve Everett, a journalist and recovering alcoholic, who has to cover the execution of murderer Frank Beechum (played by Isaiah Washington). True Crime received a mixed reception, with Janet Maslin of The New York Times writing, “his direction is galvanized by a sense of second chances and tragic misunderstandings, and by contrasting a larger sense of justice with the peculiar minutiae of crime. Perhaps he goes a shade too far in the latter direction, though.” The film was a box office failure, earning less than half its $55 million budget and was Eastwood’s worst-performing film of the 1990s aside from White Hunter Black Heart, which had a limited release.
In 2000, Eastwood directed and starred in Space Cowboys alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner. Eastwood played one of a group of veteran ex-test pilots sent into space to repair an old Soviet satellite. The original music score was composed by Eastwood and Lennie Niehaus. Space Cowboys was critically well received and holds a 79 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes, although Roger Ebert wrote that the film was, “too secure within its traditional story structure to make much seem at risk.” The film grossed more than $90 million in its United States release, more than Eastwood’s two previous films combined. In 2002, Eastwood played an ex-FBI agent chasing a sadistic killer (Jeff Daniels) in the thriller Blood Work, loosely based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Michael Connelly. The film was a commercial failure, grossing just $26.2 million on an estimated budget of $50 million and received mixed reviews, with Rotten Tomatoes describing it as, “well-made but marred by lethargic pacing.” Eastwood did, however, win the Future Film Festival Digital Award at the Venice Film Festival for the film.
“Clint is a true artist in every respect. Despite his years of being at the top of his game and the legendary movies he has made, he always made us feel comfortable and valued on the set, treating us as equals.”
— Tim Robbins, on working with Eastwood.
Eastwood directed and scored the crime drama Mystic River (2003), a film dealing with themes of murder, vigilantism and sexual abuse and starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins. The film was praised by critics and won two Academy Awards – Best Actor for Penn and Best Supporting Actor for Robbins – with Eastwood garnering nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. The film grossed $90 million domestically on a budget of $30 million. In 2003 Eastwood was named Best Director of the Year by the National Society of Film Critics.
The following year Eastwood found further critical and commercial success when he directed, produced, scored and starred in the boxing drama Million Dollar Baby, playing a cantankerous trainer who forms a bond with a female boxer (Hilary Swank), whom he is persuaded to train by his longtime friend and employee (Morgan Freeman). The film won four Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Swank) and Best Supporting Actor (Freeman). At age 74 Eastwood became the oldest of eighteen directors to have directed two or more Best Picture winners. He also received a nomination for Best Actor, as well as a Grammy nomination for his score, and won a Golden Globe for Best Director, which was presented to him by daughter Kathryn, who was Miss Golden Globe at the 2005 ceremony. A. O. Scott of The New York Times lauded the film as a “masterpiece” and the best film of the year.
In 2006, Eastwood directed two films about World War II’s Battle of Iwo Jima. The first, Flags of Our Fathers, focused on the men who raised the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi and featured the film debut of Eastwood’s son Scott. This was followed by Letters from Iwo Jima, which dealt with the tactics of the Japanese soldiers on the island and the letters they wrote home to family members. Letters from Iwo Jima was the first American film to depict a war issue completely from the view of an American enemy. Both films received praise from critics and garnered several nominations at the 79th Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay for Letters from Iwo Jima. At the 64th Golden Globe Awards Eastwood received nominations for Best Director in both films. Letters from Iwo Jima won the award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Eastwood next directed Changeling (2008), based on a true story set in the late 1920s. Angelina Jolie stars as a woman reunited with her missing son only to realize he is an impostor. After its release at several film festivals the film grossed over $110 million, the majority of which came from foreign markets. The film was highly acclaimed, with Damon Wise of Empire describing Changeling as “flawless.” Todd McCarthy of Variety magazine described it as “emotionally powerful and stylistically sure-handed” and that the film’s characters and social commentary were brought into the story with an “almost breathtaking deliberation.” For the film Eastwood received nominations for Best Original Score at the 66th Golden Globe Awards, Best Direction at the 62nd British Academy Film Awards and director of the year from the London Film Critics’ Circle.
Eastwood ended a four-year “self-imposed acting hiatus” by appearing in Gran Torino, which he also directed, produced and partly scored with his son Kyle and Jamie Cullum. Biographer Marc Eliot called Eastwood’s role “an amalgam of the Man with No Name, Dirty Harry, and William Munny, here aged and cynical but willing and able to fight on whenever the need arose.” Gran Torino grossed almost $30 million during its opening weekend release in January 2009, the highest of his career as an actor or director. Gran Torino eventually grossed over $268 million in theaters worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of Eastwood’s career so far (without adjustment for inflation).
Eastwood’s 30th directorial outing came with Invictus, a film based on the story of the South African team at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, Matt Damon as rugby team captain François Pienaar and Grant L. Roberts as Ruben Kruger. The film met with generally positive reviews; Roger Ebert gave it three and a half stars and described it as a “…very good film… with moments evoking great emotion,” while Variety‘s Todd McCarthy wrote, “Inspirational on the face of it, Clint Eastwood’s film has a predictable trajectory, but every scene brims with surprising details that accumulate into a rich fabric of history, cultural impressions and emotion.” For the film Eastwood was nominated for Best Director at the 67th Golden Globe Awards.
In 2010, Eastwood directed Hereafter, again working with Matt Damon, who portrayed a psychic. The film had its world premiere on September 12, 2010 at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival and had a limited release later in October. Hereafter received mixed reviews from critics, with the consensus at Rotten Tomatoes being, “Despite a thought-provoking premise and Clint Eastwood’s typical flair as director, Hereafter fails to generate much compelling drama, straddling the line between poignant sentimentality and hokey tedium.” In the same year, Eastwood served as executive producer for a Turner Classic Movies (TCM) documentary about jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way, to commemorate Brubeck’s 90th birthday.
In 2011, Eastwood directed J. Edgar, a biopic of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. The film received mixed reviews, although DiCaprio’s performance as Hoover was widely praised. The Rotten Tomatoes consensus was, “Leonardo DiCaprio gives a predictably powerhouse performance, but J. Edgar stumbles in all other departments.”
Roger Ebert wrote that the film is “fascinating,” “masterful,” and praised DiCaprio’s performance. David Edelstein of New York Magazine, while also praising DiCaprio, wrote, “It’s too bad J. Edgar is so shapeless and turgid and ham-handed, so rich in bad lines and worse readings.”
In January 2011, it was announced that Eastwood was in talks to direct Beyoncé Knowles in a third remake of the 1937 film A Star Is Born; however, the project was delayed due to Beyoncé’s pregnancy. Eastwood then starred in the baseball drama Trouble with the Curve (2012), as a veteran baseball scout who travels with his daughter for a final scouting trip. Robert Lorenz, who worked with Eastwood as an assistant director on several films, directed the film.
“Everybody wonders why I continue working at this stage. I keep working because there’s always new stories…. And as long as people want me to tell them, I’ll be there doing them.”
— Eastwood, reflecting on his later career
During Super Bowl XLVI, Eastwood narrated a halftime advertisement for Chrysler titled “It’s Halftime in America.” The advertisement was criticized by several U.S. Republicans, who claimed it implied that President Barack Obama deserved a second term. In response to the criticism, Eastwood stated, “I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message about job growth and the spirit of America.”
Eastwood next directed Jersey Boys, a musical biography based on the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys. The film told the story of the musical group The Four Seasons, and was released on June 20, 2014.
Eastwood directed American Sniper, a film adaptation of Chris Kyle‘s eponymous memoir, following Steven Spielberg’s departure from the project. The film was released on December 25, 2014. American Sniper has grossed more than $350 million domestically and over $547 million globally, making it one of Eastwood’s biggest movies commercially.
Beginning with the thriller Play Misty for Me, Eastwood has directed over 30 films, including Westerns, action films, and dramas. He is one of few top Hollywood actors to have also become a critically and commercially successful director. The New Yorker wrote that, unlike Eastwood, John Ford appeared in just a few films; Howard Hawks never acted in movies. Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, Steve McQueen, and Sean Connery never directed a feature. John Wayne directed only twice, and badly; ditto Burt Lancaster. Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, and Sean Penn have directed a few movies each, with mixed commercial and artistic success.
From the very early days of his career Eastwood was frustrated by directors’ insistence that scenes be re-shot multiple times and perfected, and when he began directing in 1970, he made a conscious attempt to avoid any aspects of directing he had been indifferent to as an actor. As a result, Eastwood is renowned for his efficient film directing and ability to reduce filming time and control budgets. He usually avoids actors’ rehearsing and prefers to complete most scenes on the first take.
Eastwood’s rapid filmmaking practices have been compared to those of Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, and the Coen brothers. When acting in others’ films he sometimes takes over directing, such as for The Outlaw Josey Wales, if he believes production is too slow. In preparation for filming Eastwood rarely uses storyboards for developing the layout of a shooting schedule. He also attempts to reduce script background details on characters to allow the audience to become more involved in the film, considering their imagination a requirement for a film that connects with viewers. Eastwood has indicated that he lays out a film’s plot to provide the audience with necessary details, but not “so much that it insults their intelligence.”
According to Life magazine, “Eastwood’s style is to shoot first and act afterward. He etches his characters virtually without words. He has developed the art of underplaying to the point that anyone around him who so much as flinches looks hammily histrionic.” Interviewers Richard Thompson and Tim Hunter note that Eastwood’s films are “superbly paced: unhurried; cool; and [give] a strong sense of real time, regardless of the speed of the narrative” while Ric Gentry considers Eastwood’s pacing “unrushed and relaxed.” Eastwood is fond of low-key lighting and back-lighting to give his movies a “noir-ish” feel.
Eastwood’s frequent exploration of ethical values has drawn the attention of scholars, who have explored Eastwood’s work from ethical and theological perspectives, including his portrayal of justice, mercy, suicide and the angel of death.
Eastwood married Margaret Neville “Maggie” Johnson (then working for an auto parts suppliers company) on December 19, 1953 in Pasadena. They had met six months earlier on a blind date in Los Angeles, although Eastwood subsequently had a serious relationship with a young woman in Seattle that summer, before Johnson announced her engagement to him in October. The marriage would not prove altogether smooth, Eastwood telling biographer Richard Schickel in the only authorized book ever written about him that he was “too young, not well enough established.” A decade later, an ongoing affair Eastwood was involved in (said to have lasted 14 years) with dancer and Rawhide stuntwoman Roxanne Tunis (who was also married yet separated) produced his earliest confirmed child, daughter Kimber Eastwood (born Kimber Tunis; June 17, 1964), whose existence was kept secret from the public until July 1989, when the National Enquirer revealed her identity. Biographer Marc Eliot wrote of Johnson, “It is difficult to say for sure that she actually knew about the baby, although it would have been nearly impossible for her not to. Everyone on the set knew … and it is simply too difficult to keep a secret like that when the mother and the illegitimate child live in the same small town, especially when that small town is Hollywood.” Actress Barbara Eden, a onetime Rawhide guest star and witness to the affair with Tunis, said of Eastwood’s relationship with Johnson: “They conducted a somewhat open marriage.”
According to biographer Patrick McGilligan, Eastwood had many other affairs, including with co-stars Inger Stevens (Hang ‘Em High), Jean Seberg (Paint Your Wagon) and Jo Ann Harris (The Beguiled), as well as actresses Jill Banner, Catherine Deneuve, and Susan St. James, columnist Bridget Byrne, competitive swimmer Anita Lhoest,] and singer Keely Smith during his marriage to Johnson, who, after a trial separation and lingering bout of hepatitis in the mid-1960s, expressed her desire to reconcile and start a family. They had two children together: Kyle Eastwood (born May 19, 1968) and Alison Eastwood (born May 22, 1972). At some point in 1972, Eastwood met married actress (later director) Sondra Locke. The two began living together while filming The Outlaw Josey Wales in the autumn of 1975, by which time, according to Locke, “He had told me that there was no real relationship left between him and Maggie.” Locke wrote in her autobiography, “Clint seemed astonished at his need for me, even admitting that he’d never been faithful to one woman — because he’d “never been in love before,” he confided. He even made up a song about it: “She made me monogamous.” That flattered and delighted me. I would never doubt his faithfulness and his love for me.” Locke moved into the Sherman Oaks house Eastwood had once shared with Johnson (who by then lived full-time in Pebble Beach), but felt uncomfortable there because “psychologically, it would always be Maggie’s.”
“Finally I told Clint that I couldn’t live there any longer,” writes Locke. The couple moved to Bel-Air in a fixer-upper. Locke spent three years renovating. She underwent two abortions and a tubal ligation in the late 1970s and was most reluctant about the second abortion, noting “I couldn’t help but think that that baby, with both Clint’s and my best qualities, would be extraordinary.” Johnson made no secret of her dislike for Locke, even though the two women never met. “Maggie placed severe rules on my relationship with the kids. Apparently, she never forgave me … after she learned that Clint had taken me onto her property to show me a baby deer that had just been born there, she laid down a rule that I was never to be allowed there again. I was not even allowed to phone the Pebble Beach house.” In 1978 Johnson filed for legal separation from Eastwood, but did not officially divorce him until May 1984, receiving a reported cash settlement of $25 million. Locke never divorced her legal husband, homosexual sculptor Gordon Anderson, who resided with his male companion in a West Hollywood home purchased by Eastwood.
Eastwood and Locke went on to star in The Gauntlet, Every Which Way But Loose, Bronco Billy, Any Which Way You Can and Sudden Impact. According to former longtime associate Fritz Manes, as quoted by author McGilligan, Eastwood was devoted to her between 1976 and 1980 at the least, but discreetly kept up several “maintenance relationships” (such as with Tunis) during that period. McGilligan claims Eastwood returned to his “habitual womanizing” in the early 1980s, becoming involved with story analyst Megan Rose, actress Jamie Rose (who played a bit part in Tightrope), animal rights activist Jane Brolin (who had intermittent liaisons with Eastwood between the early 1960s and late 1980s) and Jacelyn Reeves, a stewardess he met at the Hog’s Breath Inn, among others. He was still living with Locke when he conceived two children with Reeves: a son Scott Eastwood (born Scott Reeves; March 21, 1986) and daughter Kathryn Eastwood (born Kathryn Reeves; February 2, 1988), whose birth certificates both said “Father declined.” The affair with Reeves was not reported anywhere until an exposé article was published in the Star tabloid in 1990, though the children still went unmentioned by mainstream news sources for more than a decade thereafter. Eastwood’s relationship with Locke (at the time unaware of his infidelities) ended acrimoniously in April 1989, and the post-breakup litigation dragged on for years. Locke filed a palimony lawsuit against him after he changed the locks on their home and moved her possessions into storage when she was away filming her second directorial effort Impulse. In court, Eastwood downplayed the intensity of their relationship. He described Locke as a “roommate” before quickly re-describing her as a “part-time roommate.” Locke’s estranged brother told The Tennessean that Eastwood still truly loved her, but could no longer take her “addiction” to husband Gordon Anderson. Anticipating that Eastwood was going to misrepresent the marriage, Locke asked Anderson to surrender all claims on any of her assets that as her legal spouse he was entitled to. “In an extraordinary gesture of love and faith in me, Gordon signed away everything without hesitation.” During the trial, an investigative journalist contacted Locke and informed her of Eastwood’s other family. “I spoke with the nurse in the delivery room, and she confirmed that they are Clint’s children. I’ll send copies of the birth certificates to you and a photo of Jacelyn, if you want them,” Locke quotes the informant. “My mind was still searching to get all his actions lined up. For at least the last four years of our relationship, Clint had been living this double life, going between me and this other woman, and having children with her. Two babies had been born during the last three years of our relationship, and they weren’t mine.” Locke dropped the suit in 1990 in exchange for a directing deal at Warner Bros., but sued Eastwood again for fraud in 1994 when she became convinced the deal was a sham, finally settling out of court in September 1996. Since then, Locke has made discrediting comments about Eastwood.
In 1990, actress Frances Fisher, whom Eastwood had met on the set of Pink Cadillac in late 1988, moved in with him. Fisher said of dating Eastwood, “I simply felt that this was it, the big one. I had no idea that every woman he meets probably feels as I did.” They co-starred in Unforgiven, and had a daughter, Francesca Eastwood (born Francesca Fisher-Eastwood; August 7, 1993). The birth of Francesca marked the first time Eastwood was present for one of his children being born. Eastwood and Fisher ended their relationship in early 1995, after which Fisher said it took two years to complete what she called the grieving process for her shattered dreams. Before she had moved out of Eastwood’s home, he was said to already be dating Dina Ruiz, a television news anchor 35 years his junior whom he had first met when she interviewed him in 1993. They married on March 31, 1996, when Eastwood surprised her with a private ceremony at a home on the Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas. The marriage was noted for the fact that it was only Eastwood’s second legal union in spite of his many long-term romances over the decades. Eastwood said of his bride, “I’m proud to make this lady my wife. She’s the one I’ve been waiting for.” Ruiz commented, “The fact that I’m only the second woman he has married really touches me.” The couple has one daughter, Morgan Eastwood (born December 12, 1996). Ruiz made cameos in two of Eastwood’s films, Blood Work and True Crime (in which Fisher even appeared). In the summer of 2012, Dina, Morgan and Francesca starred with the band Overtone in a reality show for the E! network titled Mrs. Eastwood & Company, on which Eastwood appeared only occasionally.
In August 2013, Dina Eastwood announced that she and her husband had been living separately for an undisclosed length of time. On October 23, 2013, Dina filed for divorce after she withdrew her request for legal separation, citing irreconcilable differences. She asked for full custody of their 16-year-old daughter, Morgan, as well as spousal support. The divorce was finalized in December 2014. Eastwood has since been publicly linked with photographer Erica Tomlinson-Fisher (no relation to Frances), 41 years his junior, and restaurant hostess Christina Sandera, 33 years his junior. He and Sandera went public with their relationship at the 87th Academy Awards in February 2015.
Despite smoking in some of his films, Eastwood is a lifelong non-smoker, has been conscious of his health and fitness since he was a teenager, and practices healthful eating and daily Transcendental Meditation.
He opened an old English-inspired pub called the Hog’s Breath Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in 1971. Eastwood sold the pub and now owns the Mission Ranch Hotel and Restaurant in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
He is an avid golfer and owns the Tehàma Golf Club. He is an investor in the world-renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links west of Carmel and donates his time to charitable causes at major tournaments. Eastwood is a certified pilot and often flies his helicopter to the studios to avoid traffic.
Eastwood favors jazz (especially bebop), blues, classic rhythm and blues, classical, and country-and-western music; his favorite musicians include saxophonists Charlie Parker and Lester Young, pianists Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, and Fats Waller, and Delta bluesman Robert Johnson. He is also a pianist and composer. Jazz has played an important role in Eastwood’s life from a young age and, although he never made it as a professional musician, he passed on the influence to his son Kyle Eastwood, a successful jazz bassist and composer. Eastwood developed as a boogie-woogie pianist early on and had originally intended to pursue a career in music by studying for a music theory degree after graduating from high school. In late 1959 he produced the album Cowboy Favorites, released on the Cameo label.
Eastwood has his own Warner Bros. Records-distributed imprint Malpaso Records, as part of his deal with Warner Brothers, which has released all of the scores of Eastwood’s films from The Bridges of Madison County onward. Eastwood co-wrote “Why Should I Care” with Linda Thompson and Carole Bayer Sager, which was recorded by Diana Krall.
Eastwood composed the film scores of Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Grace Is Gone, Changeling, Hereafter, J. Edgar, and the original piano compositions for In the Line of Fire. He wrote and performed the song heard over the credits of Gran Torino.
The music in Grace Is Gone received two Golden Globe nominations by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the 65th Golden Globe Awards. Eastwood was nominated for Best Original Score, while the song “Grace is Gone” with music by Eastwood and lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager was nominated for Best Original Song. It won the Satellite Award for Best Song at the 12th Satellite Awards. Changeling was nominated for Best Score at the 14th Critics’ Choice Awards, Best Original Score at the 66th Golden Globe Awards, and Best Music at the 35th Saturn Awards. On September 22, 2007, Eastwood was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music at the Monterey Jazz Festival, on which he serves as an active board member. Upon receiving the award he gave a speech claiming, “It’s one of the great honors I’ll cherish in this lifetime.”
Awards and Honors
Eastwood has been recognized with multiple awards and nominations for his work in film, television, and music. His widest reception has been in film work, for which he has received Academy Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and People’s Choice Awards, among others. Eastwood is one of only two people to have been twice nominated for Best Actor and Best Director for the same film (Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby) the other being Warren Beatty (Heaven Can Wait and Reds). Along with Beatty, Robert Redford, Richard Attenborough, Kevin Costner, and Mel Gibson, he is one of the few directors best known as an actor to win an Academy Award for directing. On February 27, 2005, he became one of only three living directors (along with Miloš Forman and Francis Ford Coppola) to have directed two Best Picture winners. Aged 74, he was the oldest to date recipient of the Academy Award for Best Director. Eastwood has directed five actors in Academy Award–winning performances: Gene Hackman in Unforgiven, Tim Robbins and Sean Penn in Mystic River, and Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby.
On August 22, 1984, Eastwood was honored at a ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese theater to record his hand and footprints in cement. Eastwood received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1996, and received an honorary degree from AFI in 2009. On December 6, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Eastwood into the California Hall of Fame located at The California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.
In early 2007, Eastwood was presented with the highest civilian distinction in France, Légion d’honneur, at a ceremony in Paris. French President Jacques Chirac told Eastwood that he embodied “the best of Hollywood.” In October 2009, he was honored by the Lumière Award (in honor of the Lumière Brothers, inventors of the Cinematograph) during the first edition of the Lumière Film Festival in Lyon, France. This award honors his entire career and his major contribution to the 7th Art. In February 2010, Eastwood was recognized by President Barack Obama with an arts and humanities award. Obama described Eastwood’s films as “essays in individuality, hard truths and the essence of what it means to be American.”
Eastwood has also been awarded at least three honorary degrees from universities and colleges, including an honorary degree from the University of the Pacific in 2006, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Southern California on May 27, 2007, and an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music at the Monterey Jazz Festival on September 22, 2007.
On July 22, 2009, Eastwood was bestowed by Emperor Akihito of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun, 3rd class, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon for his contributions to the enhancement of Japan–United States relations.
Eastwood won the Golden Pine lifetime achievement award at the 2013 International Samobor Film Music Festival, along with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Gerald Fried.
Eastwood has contributed to over 50 films over his career as actor, director, producer, and composer. He has acted in several television series, including his starring role in Rawhide. He started directing in 1971, and made his debut as a producer in 1982, with Firefox, though he had been functioning as uncredited producer on all of his Malpaso Company films since Hang ‘Em High in 1968. Eastwood also has contributed music to his films, either through performing, writing, or composing. He has mainly starred in western, action, and drama films. According to the box office–revenue tracking website Box Office Mojo, films featuring Eastwood have grossed a total of more than $1.68 billion domestically, with an average of $37 million per film.
It is not clear how many children Eastwood has fathered. When Steve Kroft asked him “How many do you have?” in a November 16, 1997 segment on 60 Minutes, he said, without further elaboration, “I have a few.” In a January 14, 2009 interview on Late Show with David Letterman, David Letterman said to Eastwood, “You have seven, seven children?” to which he replied “At least.” Furthermore, Eastwood’s daughter Alison stated in an August 7, 2011 article in The Sunday Times, “My dad has eight children by six women.” However, only seven children by five women are accounted for.