Clint Eastwood Full Biography – His name has become a household one in Hollywood. His characters have balls so large that they can reach the ISS. A career is the envy of many famous film people. He is an example of real masculinity, both at 30 and at 90. It is Clint Eastwood. He is a well-known master of cinema art,
who has been delighting audiences worldwide with his films for 65 years. And in the breaks between work – he spits on public opinion about how he should live.
Is it true that Eastwood did not want to have children? Why does he think directing is not a very intellectual profession? And why do actors love him so much and critics hate him so much?
Clint Eastwood Full Biography
Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930, in San Francisco. His parents belonged to the working class. His father, Clint Eastwood Sr., worked at a steel plant, and his mother, Margaret, was an engineer. Irish, Dutch, English and Scottish blood flows in his veins.
The boy and his younger sister Jeanne were raised in a very religious family, even though Clint Sr. and Margaret belonged to different faiths. He was a Presbyterian, and she was a Mormon.
Due to the Great Depression that plagued industrial cities, the Eastwood family moved frequently to find work and livelihood. His father tried himself in different areas. He worked as a salesman and a detective and agreed to any job. As a result, the Eastwoods settled in Piedmont in 1940, where they lived until the adulthood of Clint Jr.
“I was born when the Depression started. Until the age of five
or six, you do not notice difficulties. Parents always tried to do everything,
so my sister and I had at least something, ” the actor recalled.
In Piedmont, the actor’s family was considered prosperous. They had a swimming pool,
each parent drove their own car, and the house was in a respectable area.
Sometimes Clint Sr. took the children to the cinema,
where the boy first became interested in films. Inset quote: I always liked Westerns as a kid. You
think about it vicariously, like, I’d like to be doing that. But I never thought seriously of being
in the acting profession. I didn’t know where I wanted to be until I was drafted in the Army.
His study didn’t go well. Due to constant moving, he changed many educational institutions. “I can’t
even say how many schools I went to,” he said later, “I remember that we moved very often,
so I had few friends.” He studied badly, so he
was often left to improve his knowledge for the summer. In the middle classes,
the boy was detained for half a year due to poor progress, and only in January 1946, he transferred
to the senior classes, with a technical bias. Clint was already very tall at school. By the
time of graduation, his height reached 194 cm. According to his classmates, the young
man was considered one of the prettiest in the class. He had a rugged beauty: broad shoulders,
an upturned nose, and brown hair, so it’s no surprise that he was popular with the girls.
And he understood it. Clint already had a hard look then, but the young man was shy, as it was
difficult for him to build new relationships. He did not even think about an acting career and
dreamed about becoming a jazzman. The negative experience at school also affected him. An
English teacher, Gertrude Falk, staged a play at the school theater and invited
Eastwood to join the cast: Inset quote: “…she decided
that I should play the lead role, and it was a disaster … We were confused, missed a lot of
lines. I swore then that the performance would mark the end of my acting career.”
Despite that, teachers noted Clint’s penchant for music and his success in basketball. In high school, they tried to lure him back into the drama class, because the young man was good-looking and physically well-built. But Clint didn’t budge. He was more interested in auto mechanics.
According to Clint, he was only interested in “fast cars and beautiful women.”
But, his school friends recalled that Clint was fond of playing the piano. He could play
until he wiped his fingers to the blood, but he was very ashamed of that. Jazz was his greatest
passion in music. Playing the piano, in his opinion, increased his chances with girls.
Clint even learned hits that were popular at that time, which he did not like, but each time
gathered a large audience. Also, Clint lied about his age to visit the local jazz bar.
Inset quote: “I always thought that jazz was the main thing that gave American
culture to the world. It may be the only truly original art form we have” (Clint Eastwood)
In parallel with his studies, the young man worked part-time, but mostly with hard physical labor. He
delivered newspapers, brought golf clubs, dried hay, and cut wood. It took almost all time and
effort, so Clint almost abandoned his studies. Then his parents transferred him to a technical
school in Oakland, which gave him a chance to learn a profession and settle in life.
But the technical school did not change Eastwood’s attitude to learning. In the evenings,
he met with local hooligans in leather jackets, with a bottle of beer, and who loved jazz. The
boys hung out at a local club called Omar, where Clint played an old battered piano. And,
of course, he gathered a crowd around him. There is no information on whether Eastwood
Jr. graduated from high school and whether he has a certificate. Since the school records
of 1949 are confidential. There is information that the future star was asked to leave school
for disciplinary reasons. School friends of the future actor claimed that it was not so. He simply
did not graduate from high school, because he preferred to spend his time more interestingly.
After school, Clint became independent. He was content with odd jobs. Eastwood worked
as a lumberjack, a steel mill worker, a truck driver, a paper peddler, a lifeguard, a grocer
and a forest fireman. And at the time when he was not working, he lived with his school friend
Harry Pendleton and had an active nightlife. After moving to Seattle, where, by that time,
his parents had a new home, he still worked and played the piano in the bar in the evenings.
“I grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, Lester Young, Charlie Parker,
Dizzy Gilespie, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown”. MILITARY SERVICE
After graduating from college, Clint lived with a friend. He did not want to leave with his
family for Seattle, where his father got a new job, and therefore, to provide for himself,
he began to live on various earnings. There were no plans for the future,
and work in aircraft construction at Boeing Aircraft was not impressive. According to him,
Clint went with the flow, being in a triangle of “work – machines – women.”
“In my youth, I was a vagabond. A rolling stone,” he recalled.
Everything changed when in 1950, he became the target of the draft board. Such a not-very-bright
prospect and craving for music overcame him, and in 1951 Clint decided to enter
the University of Seattle. But he did not pass the full-time format due to low ratings. And so,
he decided to go to the military registration and enlistment office.
In the same year, he was drafted into the army, in the US Air Force. Eastwood spent his last night
out drinking and listening to music in local bars. After that, he was sent to training at
the Fort Ord base on the Monterey Peninsula. And then, following the results of the basic course,
he was appointed a swimming instructor. It saved Clint from fighting in Korea.
Working in the pool helped the young man to make new acquaintances, including people who were
grouped into a special unit, with some Hollywood stars. There Eastwood met actors David Janssen
and Martin Miller, who encouraged him to move to Los Angeles after the end of the service.
There were also other acquaintances. So, he became friends with musician Lennie Niehaus,
a former American football player in Hollywood David Jensen. Together with Jensen,
they often spent time in nightclubs and met local women, and for sexual adventures,
they became a kind of legend. Another job for Clint in the army
was to show movies in the unit’s barracks. Inset quote: “I kept showing The Battle of
San Pietro and must have seen it 50 times over two years.”
While temporarily a projectionist, he gradually began to master the laws of film production:
shots, rhythm, and content. The future actor often went on
leave and arranged a short holiday for himself. So, in Carmel, he often went to local bars to
listen to music and meet women.
But one of these absences almost ended in disaster. As Clint was returning from a leave of absence in Seattle, the plane taking him there and back crashed. There was a depressurization of the cabin, and the navigation system failed. The plane crashed three miles from Point Reyes Seashore.
Therefore, the pilot and Clint were forced to swim in the middle of the night, focusing on the lighthouse. Inset quote: I thought I would probably die here. Well, some people have made it through these things.
I stared at the lights on the coast, which seemed so far away, and we went swimming.
The army gave rise to more than just Clint’s professional career. One day,
his friend, Don Kincaid, set Eastwood up on a blind date, introducing him to
his girlfriend’s friend. This young woman turned out to be Maggie Johnson – a beauty,
with a pretty face and a gorgeous figure. At that time, Maggie was dating another guy, therefore,
Clint did not count on a long relationship. But, in reality, it turned out differently. The young
people liked each other so much that they promised to meet when Eastwood ended military service.
FIRST STEPS IN CAREER After demobilization, Clint
worked as a lifeguard on the beach. But ambitions took their toll. The young man went to conquer the
big city and went to college in Los Angeles at the department of economics. In parallel,
he worked part-time to have something to live on. During the day, he worked as a manager in a
house in Beverly Hills, where he rented a flat, and at night he worked at a gas station. On the
advice of friends from the army, Clint decided to start learning acting. As he later recalled:
he was knocked out by arguments that there were the most beautiful girls among actresses.
Inset quote: I started getting interested in acting because another friend was in a
class. I thought, What the hell is that all about? I started delving into it. At first,
I didn’t know if I’d be able to be sort of hypnotized in front of people. And then you
realize there is a technique; you just bury yourself in the moment. And I got hooked.
On the list of training was the Los Angeles Community College, where George Shdanoff,
a fan of Mikhail Chekhov’s methods of teaching acting, taught.
In parallel with that, Clint went to various auditions, took part in self-made theatrical
performances, tried his hand at writing scripts and pestered film companies with
the hope of signing a contract. Soon Clint met cinematographer Irvin
Glassberg from Universal Studios. He invited the young man to a meeting with
director Arthur Lubin at the gas station. Inset quote: Glassberg invited me for the
screen test. He put me in front of the camera and asked a few questions. I was
really nervous. In general, he liked me… Beautiful appearance and high growth helped
the future star: he passed screen tests and signed a contract with the studio,
despite minimal acting experience. But, the director did not have the best
impression of the acquaintance. “He was quite amateurish. He didn’t
know which way to turn or which way to go or do anything,” he recalled.
Therefore, the main condition for signing the contract was acting courses. Clint
was also offered a modest payment – $100 a week (according to some sources – $75).
But that was enough to move to a new flat closer to the studio. Other aspiring Hollywood actors
also lived in that house, which helped the young man to make new acquaintances.
The first meeting with other studio staff members was also not very successful. On it,
Clint had to pass a test – to repeat the monologue of Alan Squier from the
film Petrified Forest (1936) and, in one of the scenes, to be naked in front of the audience.
One of the studio workers recalled him: Inset quote: “He looked like a typical hillibilly:
skinny, rural, with a protruding Adam’s apple, a man of few words and slow”
The problem was in the appearance of the young actor. He was too handsome for a character role,
but not handsome enough for a romantic hero in female films. Boys, like Clint, were usually used
by the studio to fill the space on the screen. When they let him watch the tape from the
audition, he realized that he didn’t look very good: “I looked like a wuss,” Clint recalled.
A bad reputation in the studio and a lack of experience affected the work
of Eastwood. He got minor roles in low-budget films with a low honorarium. Among them were
Revenge of the Creature, Francis in the Navy and Tarantula in 1955 and Away All Boats in 1956.
The roles were so small that the actor had practically no lines. So,
in the film Revenge of the Creature, Clint had the role of an unnamed laboratory assistant who
miraculously discovered a missing rat. And in the film Tarantula, he was an Air Force pilot
who was supposed to destroy a giant insect. In the drama Never Say Goodbye in 1956, he was
given only half a minute of screen time. Despite the bad luck in his career,
Eastwood managed to star in 8 projects in just two years.
Even then, the actor’s strengths appeared: a good sense of humor and an amazing influence on women,
which he would use later in his career. But so far, Clint simply could not transfer those
qualities to his characters. What is your favorite Eastwood
film character? Write in the comments. Eastwood went to a speech defect specialist
to correct a feature: he spoke in a whistling whisper. Despite the efforts, it was not
possible to correct the defect, but over time it will become a kind of actor’s feature.
In addition, Clint took acting lessons from Jack Kosslyn and Jess Kimmel.
The efforts brought the first success. The guy was noticed and began to receive offers
for the lead roles in films. Attractive and impressive Clint became in demand in the
cinema world as a positive hero of westerns. Among them was Keith Williams in the film Ambush
at Cimarron Pass (1958). It was an adventure film about the union of soldiers and cowboys who tried
to survive after the attacks of the Indians. Clint was very unhappy with the result. In a
1978 interview, he said: “It was sooo [sic] bad I just kept sinking lower and lower in my seat”,
considering the picture being one of the worst westerns.
In the following film, The First Traveling Saleslady, he worked with Carol Channing and hoped
for success, but it failed at the box office. He got only a minor role in the film, Lafayette
Escadrille, which was released in 1958. Clint later recalled:
Inset quote: “They were making a lot of cheap stuff, that is, B-movies… I always played some
young lieutenant or laboratory assistant, who would come and say:“ He is over there ”, or“
So-and-so happened – then”, or “Doctor, here are the X-rays”, and in response,
I heard something like: “Guy, get out of here!” I left, and that was it.”
He got lead role offers so rarely that the actor began to lose hope for a brighter future. Working
with the studio was also short-lived. Universal terminated the contract with
him after a year and a half. The film studio bosses argued that Clint had a “wrong” look.
The producers especially did not like his teeth and Adam’s apple. Eastwood was not prepared for
that. But there was nothing he could do. And so he continued to go to auditions,
train in the gym, and learn acting. When Eastwood finally got his coveted lead role,
it turned out to be some low-end western that was so bad that Eastwood decided to quit.
To earn money, the young man did menial jobs. He dug pits for pools,
and he was a cleaner at a furniture factory.
An accident saved him. Clint met with one of the directors of the Rawhide series while visiting
a friend at the studio of the CBS television network. He was looking for a suitable young
man for the supporting role of cowboy Rowdy Yates. Rowdy defined the actor’s roles for the
coming years. The pretty and good character who has principles and sticks to them.
According to Clint, such a character was not very interesting to him. But the leaders of
the television network discovered a new star for themselves from the very
first episodes. Clint brought a new cultural appeal to the show: strong, handsome, rough,
and good at shooting and fighting, he instantly pulled a young audience into the series.
Years later, the actor warmly recalled that period:
Clint starred in the series for seven years, from the first to the last
episode. By the end of the first season, his $600 salary had doubled. And by the end of
the series, it was already six numbers. The series did not become very popular but
played a crucial role in the actor’s life. There, Clint first paid attention to directing and began
to study the film business from the inside. Young Eastwood was invited to shoot one of the episodes,
which, unfortunately, was never realized. The contract with CBS meant that the actor
could not participate in any third-party projects. It was until 1953 that the network loosened the
reins a little after season 4 of the series began to slowly slide down. To promote him,
the bosses decided to use their lead star, Clint, somewhere else.
The company asked the actor to be a guest star on an episode of the popular sitcom Mister Ed, where
he played himself. He agreed on the condition that he would not wear cowboy clothes.
But, it was not the advertisement that Eastwood was counting on. The episode with the talking
horse was as strange as all those on the show. But he proudly passed the test and silently
took the money. At the same time,
his personal life was actively seething. A tall and well-built Eastwood has always
attracted the attention of many women. And he did not miss the opportunity to use it.
In the press, his name was constantly accompanied by the word “Womanizer”.
Relations with Maggie Johnson were impetuous. After the end of the service,
Clint moved to Los Angeles, where a girl was waiting for him. They began to meet regularly,
and soon the question of marriage arose. For Maggie, who grew up in a very decent family,
the choice of a man for life was controversial. She was not at all like the standard Eastwood
ladies of not very good behavior. Therefore, Clint was obliged to take
the next step and tie the knot. In 1953, Clinton Eastwood Jr. took
Maggie Johnson as his wife in front of parish priest Henry David Gray.
And everything would be fine, but. During the beginning of their relationship,
another woman got pregnant by the young man. He had a brief affair with her in Seattle when
Clint was visiting his parents. The girl decided to keep the child but gave the
newborn girl up for adoption. While studying acting classes,
Eastwood had affairs with local girls. One of them was Mamie Van Doren, who later claimed
that “sex raged” between the students. Years later, he recalled that the first
year of marriage was terrible for him. Inset quote: “If I had to go through this again,
I think I would remain a bachelor for the rest of my days. I liked doing what I wanted. I did
not tolerate any interference in my life … Meg had to immediately learn the following about me:
I will always do what I want. And she had to accept it because if she hadn’t,
we would never have gotten married.
For the first seven years, the couple had a big problem. Clint and Meg did not have
children. The reason for that was the actor’s desire. He admitted to biographer Richard
Schickel that he still remained a child of the Depression period, and he did not
want to repeat the experience of his parents. Another reason was the disagreement in marriage
due to the excessive sexual appetite and the betrayal of the actor. In the monographs, you
can find information that Eastwood’s agents had two sets of ledgers. One was for the tax office,
and the second was for the wife, who should not have known how much Clint spent on women.
As a result, in marriage with Maggie, the actor still has two children – son Kyle, born in 1968
and daughter Alison, who was born four years later. For Meg, that step was a confirmation
of the existence of her unusual marriage. But the marriage could hardly be called happy.
According to biographers, the concept of marital fidelity never made much sense
to Clint. Maggie was content with the fact that he just came home in the evenings.
Clint had affairs with other women whenever possible, especially on film sets. Friends
and colleagues called their marriage open, although it did not remain clear
whether it suited Maggie or whether she resigned herself to what was happening.
Later, she would say about her husband: “He is such a cowboy,
a real cowboy of the 20th century … We are not supporters of the theory of complete unity.”
While filming Rawhide, the actor began a relationship with dancer and stuntwoman
Roxanne Tunis. Biographers call their romance intense and “very sexy.” Roxanne did not hide
their relationship and, in every possible way, paid attention to Clint on the set. But,
at the same time, she did not demand more than she had. Everyone involved in the
filming of Rawhide knew about their romance, but the actor did not pay attention to it.
Their relationship lasted 14 years, during which she gave birth to a daughter named
Kimber. She gave birth to her in 1964 in the Hollywood hospital Cedars Sinai and,
to save Clint, she recorded the baby in her last name. The actor promised
Tunis to support them financially, but they should keep everything a secret. The girl
was hidden from the press until the 80s. But despite that, she became the first officially
recognized illegitimate Clint’s child. Maggie knew about the existence of Roxanne,
and even one day suddenly appeared on the set, where she met her personally.
But it did not change the situation. RISING STAR
The real success was waiting for Clint ahead. And he was again associated with the “cowboy”
films in the cinema. His works of the following decades would form a unique image of a laconic
hero of westerns and action films. The Italian director Sergio Leone noticed
the actor in Rawhide. He invited Clint to his new project, A Fistful of Dollars,
which was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and became the beginning of the famous “dollar
trilogy”. Leone looked for a textured guy for the lead role and liked Eastwood.
His filming partners were supposed to be Eli Wallack and Lee Van Cleef.
Clint was so disgusted with the role of the good guy from Rawhide that he agreed
to Leone’s offer. Even on the condition that the shooting had to go to Italy and Spain,
and he had to work on the series too. Inset quote: I realized the story was
Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa, which I was a big fan of. And I was going to make $10,000 to
work in Spain and Italy, and I’d never been to Europe. So I figured that I would go and
have a good trip. …It’s another example of how things in life are built around something else.
Many years later, director Sergio Leone noted that he approved Clint for the lead role in
his films only because the actor had two suitable facial expressions: “with a hat”
and “without a hat.” The director was struck by the actor’s manner of moving slowly. “I thought
Clint looked a lot like a cat,” he recalled. During filming, the actor wore the same poncho,
forbidding everyone to wash it throughout the entire period of the trilogy production. It
was a kind of talisman for the actor. The first film, A Fistful of Dollars,
was released in 1964. And although the film was accused of plagiarism in Asian countries, it was a
huge success in Europe and the USA. With a budget of $200 thousand, it earned $14 million and gave
rise to a subgenre – “spaghetti western”. During the same period, Clint woke up famous.
Therefore, it is not surprising that they made two sequels a few years later – For
a Few Dollars More in 1965 and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in 1966. All three films were united
by the figure of the protagonist – silent, in a poncho, cowboy boots, a cigarillo in his mouth
and ambiguous morality. The main motive of the film is considered one of the most recognizable
melodies in cinematic history. This experience became important
in the actor’s life. The film was so similar to
the original source that Leone later received a lawsuit. And no wonder, the accuracy of the
coincidence in details is striking: the image of a lone warrior, a similar montage rhythm
and structure of action. So, fights begin with a long and tense wait, when the camera concentrates
on every movement and look of opponents. By the way, Kurosawa won the case in court,
receiving $100 thousand and 15% of the box office.
But it was worth it. Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood made a breakthrough in the image of
the western genre, which by the early 60s had almost died. They created a classic
Puritan hero in a hat and on a horse, who is a complex of unambiguous positive qualities
and well-established clichés. Other characters throughout the trilogy come up with different
names for Eastwood’s character. Therefore, he is known as “The Man with No Name” in the film.
In 2008, Empire selected him as the 43rd greatest cinematic character of all time.