Clint Eastwood is a Hollywood superstar, actor, film director, producer, composer, and politician. A biography of this prolific public figure sounds like the life of a man who saw and done it all. At age 91, and still directing, producing, and starring in top Hollywood dramas. Eastwood is an outright powerhouse of hard graft creativity, and it didn’t look like he is slowing down. But as with any high-profile superstar, Eastwood makes his fair share of controversies and even a stint in politics.
So what does a brutally honest biography of Clint Eastwood look like? The fame, the success, the good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly. Join us as we dive deep into the life of this multi-Academy Award-winning Hollywood superstar. It is surprising that the things you didn’t know about Clint Eastwood.
Clint Eastwood before the fame
Born on May 31st, 1930, Clinton Eastwood spent much of his childhood on the move. His father, Clinton Eastwood Sr. traveled with his family looking for work across California during the Depression. The family, which included his mother Ruth, and sister Jeanne, eventually settled in Piedmont. Eastwood finishes high school in 1949 and takes a job as a steel-furnace stoker, hay baler, and truck driver.
Clint Eastwood had dreams to follow his passion for music and eventually enroll in a university music program. However, it won’t be the path he follows at the age of 19, he sends into the US army. He served as a swimming instructor while stationed on the Monterey Peninsula at Fort Ord. In 1953, after two years in the force, Eastwood moves to Los Angeles. He signs up for classes at Los Angeles City College and earns money by working at a gas station.
Clint Eastwood’s break into the industry
Then, in the late Fifties, his big break came. A studio exec strolling down the hall at US TV network CBS spots the 6ft 4in hunk and asks, “Are you an actor?”. The producer was looking for a rugged type to star in a cowboy program for TV called Rawhide. Clint took the job and stayed with the series for seven years.
While taking classes in acting, Eastwood screen-tested at Universal Studios. It leads to a contract as a $75-a-week bit player, despite his lack of acting experience. The benefits that come as tall and handsome pay for Eastwood and kick off the beginnings of a Hollywood legend.
Eastwood’s early roles were bit parts in films, and a few years later in 1958, Eastwood landed his big break. He casts as Rowdy Yates in the TV Western, Rawhide, and stars in the series for seven years. The character of Yates is a hotheaded young cowboy, and Eastwood proves himself as a perfect casting for the role. It’s the best possible way for him, like Eastwood to learn the craft in the professional world of television.
Eastwood’s talent and skill as an actor push his career forward in the 1960s when he casts in the now classic trio of Westerns, directed by legendary filmmaker, Sergio Leone. Known today as the Dollars Trilogy, Eastwood traveled to Italy for the production of the spaghetti Westerns, nicknamed because of their Italian production.
The trilogy of movies began with A Fistful of Dollars, then continued with For a Few Dollars More, and concluded with The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly consider one of the two greatest western creations, the other, Once Upon A Time In The West, starring Charles Bronson, and directed by Leone and praised for its stunning cinematography, riveting story, and powerful score by Ennio Morricone. The two films continue to be debated by film buffs and Western fanatics alike, on which is the best Western of all time.
The Dollars Trilogy quickly gained popularity, particularly in Europe before growing its audience in America. This success was enough to turn Eastwood into an international star.
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Clint Eastwood became a Hollywood legend
While Clint Eastwood will always be famous firstly as a world-famous actor, his talent and creativity span way past this one occupation. Eastwood is a filmmaker at heart, and in 1971 he made his directorial debut with Play Misty For Me. The film follows a disc jockey whose life turns upside down after a romantic encounter with an obsessed fan. Eastwood starred in the movie opposite Jessica Walter and Donna Mills. Eastwood would continue this pattern of production as an actor and director throughout his career.
1971 was a superb year for Eastwood’s career. Not only did he make his directorial debut, but he starred in one of his most famous roles to date, as Harry Callahan, a contentious San Francisco cop, in the gritty and violent, Dirty Harry. What made this iconic tough guy so important for Eastwood, was the fact that it wasn’t in a Western, which he had become most associated with.
While Eastwood had built himself up as a tough guy on screen, his confidence and masculinity had given him the willingness to show his more vulnerable, romantic, and comedic side on screen. Eastwood is a lover of jazz, which translated to his abilities as a composer in several of his movies. He showed the world his comedic talents opposite Jeff Bridges in 1974’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. He showed off his talents as a more realistic and reserved performer in 1979’s Escape from Alcatraz, where he played the real-life convict, Frank Lee Morris.
Having starred in so many Westerns throughout his career, alongside the Dollars Trilogy, there’s High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Two Mules for Sister Sara, and many more, Eastwood took on the Western genre once again in 1992 with great acclaim. With Unforgiven, Eastwood showed his true skill as a filmmaker, directing, producing and starring in the movie that was a beautiful deconstruction of the Western genre.
Unforgiven is a revisionist western which deconstructs the myth of the old west that was particularly accentuated by Hollywood movies, including those starring Eastwood, and older movies from the John Wayne and John Ford era. Unlike the typical Western of the past, there are no real heroes in Unforgiven, with every character being morally compromised in some way. This includes the central character played by Eastwood, and even the sheriff, Little Bill Daggett, played by Gene Hackman.
Unforgiven was so beloved that it earned the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. It was here that Eastwood’s career was no longer just as an actor who also dabbled in directing, but a genuine filmmaker with a tremendous understanding of film as an artform. Eastwood continued with his acting-directing projects, including A Perfect World opposite Kevin Costner, The Bridges of Madison County opposite Meryl Streep, and Absolute Power opposite Ed Harris, Laura Linney, and re-teaming with Unforgiven co-star, Gene Hackman.
Clint Eastwood was now a part of Hollywood royalty, not just on screen but off. He had power in the industry, and his career would continue to flourish with some outstanding movies. In 2003, Eastwood decided to keep his focus behind the camera for the murder mystery thriller Mystic River. The movie starred Kevin Bacon, Laura Linney, Lawrence Fishburne, and earned Academy Awards for Tim Robbins and Sean Penn. Eastwood even composed the music for the film, with a hauntingly beautiful score that undoubtedly surprised many to hear that it was created by an actor. Once again, Eastwood stretched his creative muscles with great success. He was honored with the Life Achievement Award by the Screen Actors Guild the very same year.
Eastwood’s creative power continued with the modern classic, Million Dollar Baby, where he starred opposite Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman, both of which earned Academy Awards, alongside Eastwood claiming Best Picture and Best Director. He continued with two World War II dramas, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. The thriller Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie, Gran Torino, starring Eastwood, and Invictus, starring Matt Damon, and Morgan Freeman as former South African president, Nelson Mandela. In 2011, Eastwood directed possibly the biggest Hollywood star of today, Leonardo DiCaprio, in J. Edgar, where DiCaprio played former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
Alongside his unstoppable filmmaking career, Eastwood took on the world of politics. He was elected mayor of Carmel, California, back in 1986 and served two years.
Controversies around Clint Eastwood’s love life
While Clint Eastwood has continually proved himself as a powerhouse in Hollywood, the filmmaker’s love life has been one of controversy. Eastwood has had two marriages in his life, alongside seven children with five different women. Two of his children were with his first wife, Maggie Johnson, a marriage that lasted twenty-five years.
He also had a child with Roxanne Tunis in 1964, and two children with Jacely Reeves, sometime in the 1980s. Eastwoord also had a long-term relationship with actress Sondra Locke. He had addtionally had a relationship with actress Frances Fisher who he starred opposite in Unforgiven. They had a daughter in 1993. Since 1996, Eastwood has been married to Dina Ruiz, a woman 35 years his junior, with whom he has a daughter.
Is Clint Eastwood’s unimaginably successful Hollywood career tainted by his controversial love life, highlighting the unusual behavior of Hollywood celebrities? Or, is he just an ordinary man living an unorthodox life? Let us know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more. Click the bell icon to stay updated on all our latest content.