Who is Clint Eastwood?
From being born in a middle class family to being a highly successful actor-director-producer, Clint Eastwood has had a great career in Hollywood. It is hard to believe that this prolific actor had an extremely humble beginning. He struggled with various odd jobs before trying his luck in acting. Tasting success with the Western TV series Rawhide, he achieved international fame with Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) during the 1960s and in the Dirty Harry film series in the 1970s and 1980s. The Dollars Trilogy and the Dirty Harry series established his image as a tough guy. Clint ventured into directing films in 1971 and made a mark with his unique style. Eastwood won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture for Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004); he had also received nominations for Best Actor for these films. He received Academy Award nominations for Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) as well. Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and its sequel, Any Which Way You Can (1980) are considered as his biggest commercial successes (inflation adjusted). He has starred in most of his self-directed films, and also directed several films without appearing in them.
Childhood & Early Life
Clint Eastwood was born Clinton Eastwood Jr. on May 31, 1930, in San Francisco, California, to Clinton Eastwood, Sr. and Margaret Ruth. His father worked at pulp and paper company Georgia-Pacific and later worked as a clerk at IBM. He has a younger sister, Jeanne Bernhardt (born in 1934). Eastwood has Scottish, English, Irish, and Dutch ancestry.
He initially attended Piedmont Middle School after which he studied at Piedmont High School, which he was asked to leave on disciplinary grounds. After that he transferred to Oakland Technical High School, but it’s not clear whether he graduated high school or not.
Around this time, he took up various odd jobs, including paper carrier, lifeguard, grocery clerk, golf caddy, and forest firefighter. According to Eastwood, he tried to enrol at Seattle University but was drafted into the US Army during the Korean War and stationed in California. While serving in the US Army, he met actors David Jansen and Martin Miller who encouraged him to relocate to Los Angeles after completing his military duty.
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Early Career & Struggles
He appeared for a screen test at Universal Studios and got a 40-week contract, but after just one renewal and small roles in such movies as Revenge of the Creature (1955) and Tarantula (19550, his contract was not renewed.
After that, he appeared in several TV series before getting the big break he was looking for - the role of Rowdy Yates in TV Western Rawhide (1959-65). The series reached the top 20 in TV rating within three weeks and proved a major success for several years before being cancelled in the 1965-66 season. It served as a career breakthrough for Eastwood.
Meanwhile, he appeared in minor roles in such films as Lady Godiva of Coventry (1955), Never Say Goodbye (1955), Escapade in Japan (1957), Lafayette Escadrille (1958), and Ambush at Cimarron Pass (1958). In 1959, he made a guest appearance on Maverick. Cast opposite James Garner, he played the role of a cowardly villain.
The Dollars Trilogy Changed it All
Italian director Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) during the 1960s established Eastwood as a major star. He portrayed the Man with No Name in all the three films of the Dollars trilogy.
To shed his Rawhide image, he accepted the offer to play the role of a cowboy in the first film of the trilogy, A Fistful of Dollars. The success of this film made him a prominent star in Italy, and he was signed for the second film of the dollar trilogy, For a Few Dollars More (1965).
In 1966, he starred in the third film of the Dollar trilogy, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The film also featured Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach in prominent roles.
The Dollars trilogy was released in the United States in 1967 (in January, May and December) and proved a commercial success, catapulting Eastwood as a major film star. All the three films, however, received poor reviews from film critics.
With the money earned from the Dollars trilogy, Eastwood established his production company, Malpaso Productions, in 1967.
Eastwood appeared in his first American Western, Hang ’Em High (1968), which was directed by Ted Post and produced by his production company, Malpaso Productions. After Hang ’Em High, he worked with Don Siegel in Coogan’s Bluff (1968). This was the beginning of a long and fruitful association with Don Siegel—as acknowledged by Eastwood himself, he learned the nuances of directing from the former.
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In 1968, he starred in the war epic Where Eagles Dare, a film set in the Second World War
Eastwood starred in the only musical of his career, Paint Your Wagon (1969), but the film was not a commercial or critical success. It was, however, nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
Career in the 1970s
In the 1970s, he worked with Don Siegel in several films. He collaborated with the director on the western Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), Civil War drama The Beguiled (1971), and the biographical prison thriller Escape from Alcatraz (1979), but the police action-thriller Dirty Harry (1971), in which Eastwood first portrayed the no-holds-barred cop Harry Callahan, was their most famous collaboration. The film spawned four sequels and established the character Dirty Harry—known for several iconic one liners, including “Go ahead, make my day.”
Towards Direction: Clint Eastwood turned to directing films in the early 70s. His first film as director was the thriller Play Misty for Me (1971), followed by the western High Plane Drifter (19172), the romantic drama Breezy (1973), the action-thriller The Eiger Sanction (1975), and the western The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). He played leading roles in all these films. Eastwood then directed and starred in The Gauntlet (1977), which also starred Sandra Locke, William Prince, Pat Hingle, Bill McKinney, and Mara Corday.
He reprised his role as Callahan in Magnum Force (1973), a sequel to Dirty Harry. The film was not a critical success, but became a major commercial for Eastwood, grossing $58.1 million in the United States.
Eastwood then starred in the road movie Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), which was a moderate box-office success.
Rejecting Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now and Ted Post's Go Tell the Spartans, Eastwood decided to make The Enforcer (1976), the third film of the Dirty Harry franchise. The film grossed $100 million worldwide.
Career in the 1980s
The decade of 1980 saw him both as a director and actor. He directed and self-starred in a number of movies, including Bronco Billy, Honkytonk Man, Firefox, Tightrope, and City Heat.
He directed the cop-action Sudden Impact (1983), the fourth film of the Dirty Harry franchise.
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In 1985, he directed, produced and starred in the western Pale Rider, which proved a success. The film is remembered for Eastwood’s iconic presence and Bruce Surtees’ mind-blowing cinematography.
In 1985, he forayed into TV direction with Vanessa in the Garden (part of Amazing Stories series). It remains his only TV direction venture.
In the military drama Heartbreak Ridge (1986), he portrays a US Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam War.
In 1988, he directed Bird, which was a biographical film around the life of famous saxophonist Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, played by Forest Whitaker. The movie was a commercial dud, but attained critical acclaim and fetched him several awards.
In The Dead Pool (1988), the fifth and final film of the Dirty Harry franchise, Eastwood starred alongside Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, and Jim Carrey. Grossing nearly $38 million, it is considered as the weakest film of the franchise.
Career in the 1990s
In 1990, he directed the cop drama The Rookie, which proved unsuccessful, but his revisionist western Unforgiven (1992) a major commercial and critical success. The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won four, including best film and best director.
In the drama A Perfect World (1993), he played a Texas Ranger, and donned the hat of a U.S. Secret Service agent in Wolfgang Petersen’s action thriller In the Line of Fire (1993).
In The Bridges of Madison County (1995), he played a photographer. The film also starred Meryl Streep.
In the political thriller Absolute Power (1997), he again donned the hat of the director and starred along with Gene Hackman. Eastwood played a veteran thief in the film.
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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) was his only directed film of the decade, in which he did not star. The film was based on John Berendt's novel and starred John Cusack, Kevin Spacey, and Jude Law.
In the mystery drama True Crime (1999), Clint Eastwood starred as veteran reporter. It was his worst-performing film of the 1990s.
2000 & Beyond
In his 2000 adventure drama Space Cowboys (2000), Eastwood starred alongside Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner, and Donald Sutherland.
Eastwood’s mystery drama Mystic River (2003), starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon, achieved both critical and commercial success. It won six Academy Awards nominations and won two–Best Actor for Penn and Best Supporting Actor for Robbins.
He followed the success of Mystic River with Million Dollar Baby (2004). The film earned rave reviews and won him critical acclaim and commercial success. It won four Academy Awards–Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Hilary Swank) and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman).
In 2006, he collaborated with Steven Spielberg on two World War II films, Flags of the Fathers and its sequel, Letters from Iwo Jima. Both the films were well received by the audience. Letters from Iwo Jima won several Academy Awards nominations, including Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay.
In 2008, he directed Changeling, which was based on a true story. The film starred Angelina Jolie and won both critical and commercial success. For Changeling, Eastwood received several nominations.
After an acting hiatus of four years, Eastwood appeared in Gran Torino (2008). The film garnered superlative success at the box office, grossing over $268 million worldwide. It also became the highest-grossing film of his career until then.
In 2009, he directed Invictus, which was based on the story of the South African Rugby team at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. The film starred Morgan Freeman (as Nelson Mandela), Matt Damon, and Grant L. Roberts.
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In 2010, he directed the fantasy disaster drama Hereafter, which starred Matt Damon and Cécile de France. The film received mixed reviews.
Eastwood next directed J. Edgar (2011), a biopic of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Armie Hammer also starred alongside DiCaprio. The film received mixed reviews from critics, although DiCaprio's performance was widely appreciated.
In 2014, Eastwood came up with his next directorial venture, Jersey Boys. The film narrates the story of the American rock-and-roll group the Four Seasons. Eastwood next directed American Sniper (2014), which became a massive success. Grossing more than $350 million in the domestic market and over $547 million worldwide, the film became one of Eastwood's biggest movies commercially.
Eastwood’s next venture, Sully (2016), was based on airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who landed a malfunctioning Airbus A320 aircraft on the Hudson River, saving all the passengers on board. Tom Hanks played the role of Chesley Sullenberger. The film became a commercial success, grossing over $238 million globally.
In 2018, he directed the biographical drama The 15:17 to Paris, which was based on the 2015 terrorist attack on an Amsterdam-to-Paris train. The film starred Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos who had thwarted the strike. The film received negative reviews from critics.
In 2018, he directed and starred in the drama The Mule. The film was based on the life of Leo Earl Sharp Sr., a Second World War veteran who became a drug courier for the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. It was Eastwood’s first acting project since Trouble with the Curve (2012) and the first starring role in a film directed by him since Gran Torino (2008).
Eastwood next produced and directed the biographical drama Richard Jewell (2019). The film received generally positive reviews from critics and Kathy Bates earned nominations at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.
Political Views & Affiliations
Eastwood once told the Wall Street Journal he is always in a state of evolution and called himself a libertarian. The above statement of Eastwood has actually reflected in his political affiliations over the years.
In 1986, Eastwood was elected and served for two years as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.
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He supported the candidature of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.
In February 2020, Eastwood announced his support for Democrat Mike Bloomberg in the 2020 presidential election.
Interest in Music
Eastwood has been very passionate about music all his life. He particularly likes the jazz, western, and country music.
A self-taught pianist, he produced Cowboy Favorites, in 1959, but it could not make it to the Billboard Hot 100.
In the early 1960s, he, along with Paul Brinegar and Sheb Wooley toured festivals, fairs and rodeos in the US.
Awards & Achievements
His work in films, television and music has been recognised with several prestigious awards, including Academy Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and People's Choice Awards.
He was bestowed with the highest civilian distinction in France, Légion d'honneur. Additionally, he received the Order of the Rising Sun, which was bestowed upon him by Emperor Akihito of Japan.
He has been inducted in the California Hall of Fame. Other than this, he has also received honorary degrees from various universities and colleges.
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Family & Personal Life
Eastwood holds the image of a Casanova, as he has had numerous relationships with a number of women, including Anita Lhoest, Mamie Van Doren, Roxanne Tunis, Gael Greene, Sondra Locke, Jacelyn Reeves, Frances Fisher, Catherine Deneuve, Jill Banner, Jamie Rose, Inger Stevens, Jo Ann Harris, Jean Seberg, Megan Rose, Jane, Bridget Byrne, Keely Smith, Susan St. James and Christina Sandera.
On December 19, 1953, Eastwood tied the knot with Maggie Johnson. The couple had two children, Kyle (born 1968) and Alison (born 1972), before separating in 1984. She reportedly received $25 to $30 million, as part of the divorce settlement.
From 1959 to 1973, he was in a relationship with Roxanne Tunis and fathered a daughter, Kimber (born 1964).
In 1975, Eastwood started living with actress Sondra Locke. They had a high profile relationship and starred in many films together before their break-up in April 1989. Eastwood is said to have continued several other relationships even during his romantic association with Locke and fathered at least 3 children during this period.
In his unpublicised affair flight attendant Jacelyn Reeves, Eastwood had two children, Scott (born 1986) and Kathryn (born 1988).
After his break-up with Locke in 1989, Eastwood had a relationship with actress Frances Fisher and this association produced a daughter, Francesca (born 1993).
He married Dina Ruiz on March 31, 1996. The couple has one daughter, Morgan Eastwood (born 1996). In August 2013, Ruiz revealed that the two were living separately. They formally divorced in 2014.
Clint Eastwood’s Car Collection Will Make Your Day
The Man With No Name has quite an enviable collection of cars. The mean machines in his collection include Ford Roadster (1932), Lincoln K-Series convertible (1937), Austin Healey 100M (1955), Cadillac Eldorado Series 62 convertible (1955), Jaguar XK150 roadster (1960), Morris Mini Countryman ‘Cooper S’ (1966), Ferrari 275 GTB (1966), Gran Torino Sport (1972), Ferrari 365 GT4 Berlinetta Boxer (1974), Pontiac Special Edition Trans-Am (1977), Ferrari 308 GTB (1978), GMC Typhoon (1992), and Fiat 500e (2014).