Clint Eastwood is a legendary Hollywood actor, director, and producer that has managed to maintain a hefty amount of respect over the course of his long career in entertainment. His name carries such a pedigree that he is one of the few actors that has managed to make a name for himself in politics, alongside such iconic figures as Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Despite the icon’s largely positive reputation with audiences, there have been some dark moments in his past. One of the darkest episodes that has loomed over Clint’s life is his former relationship with actress Sondra Locke. Join Facts Verse as we explore Clint Eastwood’s toxic relationship with Sondra Locke.
Just like Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke was a multi-talented Hollywood player. She was an actress, producer, director, and also a talented singer who could perform her own songs on film. Despite Sondra’s immense talent, her legacy has been greatly overshadowed by the tumultuous 13-year relationship she shared with Clint throughout the 1970s and the 1980s. Since the recent announcement of Sondra’s death, more and more people have become curious about what exactly went down between the two stars.
Sondra starred alongside Clint in a number of features, starting with 1976’s The Outlaw Josey Wales. It was on the set of this film that the couple began developing personal chemistry, and this personal relationship led to many more professional roles together. Other Clint Eastwood features that Sandra can be seen in include The Gauntlet, Every Which Way but Loose, Any Which Way You Can, Sudden Impact, and Bronco Billy. Any Which Way You Can was a sequel to Every Which Way but Loose, and Sondra was given numerous opportunities to sing throughout both films.
Despite the massive amount of onscreen chemistry that the two shared, Sondra and Clint’s relationship was never quite as perfect as it may have seemed on the surface. In fact, it has come to be known as one of the most toxic and notorious relationships in Hollywood history. It was a relationship ripe with both personal and professional abuse, and it ended in a series of disastrous lawsuits that surprisingly had very little impact on Clint’s reputation.
Sondra Locke was born Sandra Louise Smith on May 28, 1944. She was born in the town of Shelby, Tennessee. Her father was a soldier named Raymond Smith who ended up leaving Sondra’s mother, a factory worker by the name of Pauline Bayne. Pauline eventually found a new husband in the form of Alfred Locke, a practicing carpenter. It was this man who truly raised Sondra, and who she eventually decided to take her professional last name from.
Sondra was always an outsider during her years at school, finding it hard to fit in with the majority of her peers. One of the only friends that Sondra maintained in the early days of her youth was a young boy by the name of Gordon Anderson. Gordon was an effeminate boy, and eventually came out to Sondra as being gay. However, the two still decided to marry in 1967 for social reasons. Despite Sondra being romantically involved with other people after their marriage, the two never official divorced. Sondra was married to Gordon until her death in 2018.
Sondra made her entrance into the entertainment industry via a talent competition that was being sponsored by Warner Brothers. The young lady easily bested the competition, securing herself her first role in a feature film. That feature film was 1968’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, and Sondra’s dramatic performance caught the attention of both critics and the audience. In fact, her performance in the film even garnered her an Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
After her breakout performance in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Sondra could be seen in a few more notable feature films before eventually forming a personal and professional partnership with Clint Eastwood. Some of the films Sondra could be seen in during the early 1970s included Willard and Cover Me Babe. Sondra first met Clint in 1972, while campaigning for a role in his feature film Breezy. While Sondra didn’t quite make the cut for that film due to being a little too old for the character, Clint remembered Sondra and eventually invited her to star in The Outlaw Josey Wales.
After the success of The Outlaw Josey Wales, Sondra and Clint entered into a personal and professional relationship. However, the relationship was soon going to take a dark turn. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! As well, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
As we’ve already established, Sondra Locke was already married to a gay man at the time she met Clint Eastwood. As well, she stay married to that man over the course of her entire 13-year relationship with Clint. This fact was inevitably going to play into the public’s perception of the relationship. However, Clint was also married when he met Sondra.
Clint was married to a woman by the name of Maggie Johnson when he met Sondra, and he didn’t divorce her until he had already been with Sondra for a period of nine years. However, the two eventually did get divorced. Despite the two of them already being married, Sondra and Clint hit it off on the set out The Outlaw Josey Wales and became inseparable for the next 13 years, even moving in together.
Sondra and Clint’s personal and professional relationship seemed to be going okay for a number of years before eventually taking a dark turn. However, many details have since come to light that have made people question whether the relationship was every truly as healthy as it appeared.
One big issue that has come to light about the pair’s romantic relationship is the fact that Clint forced Sondra to use a natural form of birth control that wasn’t entirely effective. When this method of birth control inevitably resulted in Sondra getting pregnant, Clint forced her to get an abortion so that the two of them could maintain their adventurous social lifestyle. Clint forced Sondra to get two abortions during the course of their 13-year relationship, all the while cheating on her with other women.
According to Sondra, the reason that Clint was so picky about her preferred method of birth control was that the IUD she had been using when she met him caused discomfort when they made love. As well, both stars had issues with other traditional methods of birth control, believing that the health consequences of using birth control pills outweighed their potential benefits. Because of this, Sondra was sent to a naturopath clinic that helped her learn the rhythm method for birth control. This method requires understanding the menstrual cycle and only having intercourse at times where pregnancy is unlikely or impossible. While many have had success with this method, it isn’t quite as effective as some others. Hence, Sondra ended up becoming pregnant twice.
Another issue that arose over the course of Clint and Sondra’s relationship was the simple fact that Sondra wasn’t content with always playing second fiddle to Clint. While roles in films such as Every Which Way but Loose and Bronco Billy helped Sondra gain more mainstream recognition, she had an artistic itch that these performances couldn’t scratch. Clint tried to help Sondra exercise her creativity, producing her 1986 directorial debut Ratboy. Despite being considered a cult classic today, the film was both a critical and financial failure at the time of it’s release.
It’s not clear what specific incident ended Clint and Sondra’s relationship, but there were numerous factors working against them near the end. Sadly, the relationship didn’t end amicably, with Sondra ending up locked out of their Hollywood home. Sondra sued Clint for palimony, but ended up settling out of court. Part of the settlement involved Clint getting Sondra a production deal with Warner Brothers. However, nothing ever came of the production deal. When it became apparent that the production deal was simply a rouse to try and keep Sondra out of court, she attempted to sue Clint once again. This time, she sued for fraud. Sadly, this case ended up being settled out of court, as well.
Around the time that Sondra was suing Clint for palimony, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo a double mastectomy, as well as chemotherapy. While this was certainly a dark period for Sondra, there was a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a new love interest named Scott Cuneen. Scott was one of her surgeons.
Sondra’s directorial career never quite recovered after her multiple court battles with Clint, but she did resume her acting career later on. In 1999, she starred in two feature films. However, neither film garnered a theatrical release. She didn’t act again until 2017, starring in the Alan Rudolph film Ray Meets Helen. Her performance in the that film proved to be the actress’s final role, and she died a year later from a cardiac arrest related to her breast cancer.
After all that Sondra had been through, it was a miracle that she was able to accomplish as much as she did before her death at age 74. Some wonder if she could’ve perhaps found more success if she had never met Clint Eastwood, although it’s also possible that the opposite might’ve been true.
In addition to her starring roles alongside Clint Eastwood in films such as The Outlaw Josey Wales, Bronco Billy and Sudden Impact, Sondra was certainly a notable actress and director in her own right. Comment down below to share what your favorite role from the actress’s career was, or if you’re one of the many people who think that 1986’s Ratboy didn’t get a fair shake upon it’s initial release. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!