Clint Eastwood Biography

Most well-known for his film roles of cowboys and cops, audiences first met the tall, taciturn, handsome Clint Eastwood on the small screen, when he played cowboy Rowdy Yates on the hit television Western series “Rawhide.”

From there, he was the inscrutable “Man without a Name” squinting under the sun in Sergio Leone’s Western movies and the scowling San Francisco detective in “Dirty Harry” movies who posed the famous challenge: “Go ahead, make my day.”

With the haunting “Play Misty for Me,” Eastwood first demonstrated his talent for directing is just as abundant as acting. Two of his four Oscars are awards for Best Director—for “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby”—and the other two Oscars are Best Picture awards won by the same movies. As a director, he is known for sticking to the budget and often finishing ahead of schedule. Actors say they like working with Eastwood for his reserved and supportive style. “He respects the actor,” Morgan Freeman has said. He’s also known for filming minimal takes—one take, or two “if you were lucky,” actor Tim Robbins said of the director.

With decades of work behind him and no sign of slowing down—the nonagenarian is still acting—Stacker took a look at the accomplishments and events of Eastwood’s life and compiled a list of 25 facts that you may not know. To put together the list, Stacker consulted newspaper and magazine articles, biographies, film archives, film recordings and reviews, and fan websites.

Clinton Eastwood Jr. was born May 31, 1930, in San Francisco, and he has one younger sister, Jeanne. He attended Oakland Technical High School.

After high school, Eastwood found work as a logger, hay baler, truck driver, and furnace tender in a steel plant. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1950 and stationed at California’s Fort Ord, where he taught swimming lessons on base. After being discharged in 1953, Eastwood attended Los Angeles City College and worked in a gas station.

Eastwood married Maggie Johnson, a Los Angeles model, in 1953. They had two children, Kyle and Alison. In 1964, while married to Johnson, Eastwood had a daughter, Kimber, with Roxanne Tunis, an actress and stuntwoman. Eastwood and Johnson divorced in 1984.

Eastwood passed a screen test with Universal Studios, got a 40-week contract, and landed his first roles in the 1955 monster movies “Revenge of the Creature” and “Tarantula” and the comedy “Francis in the Navy.”

When his Universal Studios contract ended, Eastwood booked a few roles in television, but he made ends meet by digging swimming pools and driving a garbage truck.

Eastwood’s breakout role came in 1958, when he landed the part of Rowdy Yates on the Western television series “Rawhide.” He would go on to play the cowboy for the show’s eight seasons.

The actor headed to Italy in the 1960s to star in a series of spaghetti Westerns—”A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More,” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” —all directed by Sergio Leone. The stint in Europe brought Eastwood international attention.

Actors James Coburn and Charles Bronson both turned down the role of the “Man with No Name” that Eastwood played in the Sergio Leone Westerns. Eastwood wore the same sarape in each movie and is said to have never washed it.

In 1967 Eastwood set up his own company, Malpaso Productions, which would produce his first Western, “Hang ’Em High,” in 1968. Malpaso Productions was behind more of Eastwood’s cowboy roles in “High Plains Drifter” in 1973, “The Outlaw Josey Wales” in 1976, and “Pale Rider” in 1985, as well as Eastwood’s portrayal of real-life prisoner Frank Lee Morris in the 1979 movie “Escape from Alcatraz.”

Eastwood directed his first film, “Play Misty for Me,” in 1971. The film was a psychological thriller about a radio disc jockey (Eastwood) and an obsessed listener played by Jessica Walter.

Eastwood first took on the iconic role of hard-edged San Francisco detective Harry Callahan in 1971’s “Dirty Harry,” which led to the sequels “Magnum Force” in 1973, “The Enforcer” in 1976, “Sudden Impact” in 1983, and “The Dead Pool” in 1988.

In 1975, Eastwood began a 13-year relationship with actress Sondra Locke that would end bitterly. The couple made six films together, although while living with Locke, Eastwood had a son, Scott, and a daughter, Kathryn, with former flight attendant Jacelyn Reeves. In 1989, Locke filed a $70 million palimony lawsuit against Eastwood, seeking damages and an equal division of property. In a private settlement, Locke got money, property, and a directing contract at Warner Bros.

Venturing into comedy, Eastwood appeared in the 1978 movie “Every Which Way but Loose,” sharing the screen with a charismatic orangutan named Clyde. The pair reunited for a sequel, “Any Which Way You Can,” in 1980.

The life-long Californian was elected mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea in 1986, after running a campaign that promised to bridge the business and residential communities of the one-mile-square village. He was mayor of Carmel, which has no street addresses or street lights, for a single two-year term and did not seek reelection.

Adding to his growing list of award-winning directorial efforts, Eastwood made “Bird,” a 1988 biopic about jazz legend Charlie Parker that won him a Golden Globe, followed by the 1992 Western “Unforgiven,” which won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. In “Unforgiven,” Eastwood played an aging gunslinger taking on one last job.

Eastwood had been in a relationship with actress Frances Fisher since the early ’90s, soon after the two appeared together in “Pink Cadillac.” She was also one of his co-stars in the Oscar-winning “Unforgiven,” and in 1993, the couple welcomed a daughter, Francesca.

Eastwood directed and starred in the 1995 love story “The Bridges of Madison County” alongside Meryl Streep as well as the 2000 adventure movie “Space Cowboys” with James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones, and Donald Sutherland. In 2003, he directed the crime drama “Mystic River,” which earned Oscars for stars Sean Penn and Tim Robbins.

Eastwood entered into marriage a second time when he wed a California TV news anchor named Dina Ruiz, who was 35 years his junior. The couple welcomed a daughter, Morgan, that same year, and Ruiz went on to appear in two of his films, “True Crime” and “Blood Work.” The marriage ended in 2013.

“Million Dollar Baby,” starring Hillary Swank as a boxer and Eastwood as her trainer, earned four Academy Awards: Eastwood received an Oscar for Best Director, the movie won for Best Picture, and Swank and Morgan Freeman were recognized with Oscars for their acting. The movie made a whopping $200 million.

In 2006, Eastwood focused on an unusual set of projects—directing two movies about World War II, one from an American point of view and the other Japanese. “Flags of Our Fathers” looks at the men who helped raise the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima, and “Letters from Iwo Jima” drew from battlefield correspondence to explore the experiences of Japanese soldiers. “Letters” was nominated for four Academy Awards, among them Best Picture and Best Director.

Among Eastwood’s successes as a director were “Gran Torino” in 2008 and “Invictus” the following year, starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. Eastwood also directed the film adaptation of the Broadway hit musical “Jersey Boys,” “American Sniper” about Navy Seal sharpshooter Chris Kyle, and “Sully,” a behind-the-scenes look at pilot Chesley Sullenberger’s daring Hudson River airplane landing.

At the 2012 Republican National Convention, in support of candidate Mitt Romney, Eastwood appeared on stage next to an empty chair and spoke to an imaginary President Barack Obama. The unconventional convention appearance left many observers wondering why the actor chose to attempt such an odd stunt.

In 2014, Eastwood divorced Dina Ruiz, a television anchorwoman 35 years his junior whom he had married in 1996. In 2012, Dina starred in a reality show called Mrs. Eastwood and Company, and her famous husband appeared in three episodes of its single season. They separated the following year.

Eastwood directed the 2019 movie “Richard Jewell” about the security guard accused of planting a bomb at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The movie came under criticism for portraying Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs as trading sexual favors with an FBI agent for an inside scoop. The editor-in-chief of the Journal-Constitution and colleagues of the late reporter said the film’s depiction of the respected journalist was offensive.

The year 2018 saw Eastwood starring in “The Mule,” a true story about a U.S. Army veteran working as a drug mule for a Mexican cartel. In 2020, he started his 42nd project as a director—”Cry Macho,” about a horse breeder who rescues a boy from his alcoholic mother.

On April 8, 1986, Clint Eastwood was overwhelmingly elected, with 72.5 % of the vote, to be the mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, or better known as just Carmel, a well known and wealthy community on the Monterey Peninsula in California. As a busy man, he quickly tired of the details he had to be involved in as mayor, and did not run for a second term. One of his best known decisions, during his mayoral tenure, was the repeal of a municipal law that forbade citizens and visitors to eat ice cream on the sidewalks of Carmel.

But Clint Eastwood, or Clinton Eastwood, Jr., his birth name, was a lot more than just mayor of Carmel. He became one of Hollywood’s famous actors, a super star, and he even received more recognition as a film director, later in his career. He was awarded three Golden Globe Awards for Best Director of a film, three Academy Awards for Best Director of a film, the Cecile B. De Mille Award, and the AFI Achievement Award.

Clint Eastwood was born in San Francisco on May 30, 1930. His mother, Margaret Ruth Runner, was of Dutch and Irish descent. She passed away in 2006, at age 97. His father, Clint Eastwood, Sr., was of Scottish and English ancestry. He passed away in 1990, at age 84. Clint Jr. grew up in an apparently normal family, although the family moved frequently, as his father worked in a variety of jobs along the West Coast.

Clint Eastwood graduated from Oakland, California, Technical High School in 1949. He then attended Los Angeles City College, studying business subjects. In the early fifties he served in the United States Army, probably as an enlistee during the Korean War. In the mid fifties he decided to seek an acting career. He made a few brief appearances in minor films including the films, “Revenge of the Creature”, and “Tarantula and Francis in the Navy”. In 1958, he got his first starting role in a feature film, “Ambush at Cimarron Pass”. A year later, in 1959, he was selected to play Rowdy Yates, in the long-running television series, “Rawhide”. This turned out to be his major break. His part in the series made his name a household name.

In the 1960’s, he played major roles in such films as “A Fistful of Dollars”, in 1964, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, in 1966, “Where Eagles Dare”, in 1968, and in “Paint Your Wagon”, in 1969.

In the 1970’s, Eastwood continued his acting career in such major films as “Kelly’s Heroes”, in 1970, “Two Mules for Sister Sara”, in 1970, “Dirty Harry”, in 1971, “Magnum Force”, in 1973, “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot”, in 1974, “The Enforcer”, in 1976, and “Every Which Way But Loose”, in 1978. He also became involved in directing films by establishing his own production company, Malpaso. He directed and starred in “Play Misty for Me”, in 1971. He also directed “High Plains Drifter”, in 1973, “The Eiger Sanction”, in 1975, and “The Outlaw Josey Wales”, in 1976.

In the 1980’s, Eastwood starred in “Any Which Way You Can”, in 1980, “Sudden Impact”, in 1983, “Pale Rider”, in 1985, “The Dead Pool”, in 1988, and “Pink Cadillac”, in 1989. He directed “Bird”, in 1988.

In the 1990’s, Eastwood starred in “The Rookie”, in 1990, “In the Line of Fire”, in 1993, and in “The Bridges of Madison County”, in 1995. He starred and directed “White Hunter and Black Heart”, in 1990, “Unforgiven”, in 1992, and “A Perfect World”, in 1993. He also directed “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”, in 1997.

In the first decade of the twenty first century, Eastwood starred in “Blood Work”, in 2002. He starred and directed “Million Dollar Baby”, in 2004. He also directed “Flags of our Fathers”, in 2006, and “Letters from Iwo Jima”, also in 2006.

In 2009 Eastwood starred in “Gran Torino”, and directed the film “Invictus”. In 2010, he directed the film “Hereafter”, and in 2011 he was the director of “J. Edgar”, the film about the life of J. Edgar Hoover.

Although Eastwood never won an Academy Award for acting, he was nominated twice for acting in the films, “Unforgiven”, in 1992, and “Million Dollar Baby”, in 2004. He did, however, receive considerable recognition for being awarded several awards for film directing, as well as being awarded the Cecil B. De Mille Award in 1988, and the American Film Institute [AFI] Life Achievement Award, in 2004.

For film directing, Eastwood won the Golden Globe Award as Best Director for the movie, “Bird”, in 1989. The movie, “Unforgiven”, earned him the Academy Award for Best Director, and, the Golden Globe Award for Best Director, in 1992 and in 1993 respectively. And about a decade later, the movie, “Million Dollar Baby”, earned him the Academy Award for Best Director, and also the Golden Globe Award for Best Director, in 2004 and in 2005 respectively.

Eastwood received several other awards, including three honorary degrees. The honorary degrees were awarded by the University of the Pacific in 2006, by the University of Southern California in 2007, and by the Berklee College of Music. The latter was an Honorary Doctorate of Music, awarded at the Monterey Music Festival in 2007. In 1994, he received the honorary Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in acting. In 2006, he was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Sound Track Album for a Motion Picture.

In 2007, Eastwood was the first recipient of the Jack Valenti Humanitarian Award, and also in 2007, Eastwood was presented with the highest civilian distinction in France, the Legion d’Honneur. In 2008, he received the Venice film Festival Golden Lion award for Lifetime Achievement. And in 2009, he received the “Order of the rising Star” from Emperor Hirohito, most likely for the film “Letters from Iwo Jima”.

Eastwood’s personal life has almost been as busy as his professional career. He has been married twice, first to Maggie Johnson from 1953 to 1978, and later to Dina Ruiz since 1996. He also had four significant others during periods of his adult life. Eastwood had six children, four daughters and two sons. Only three of the children were borne by his two wives, the other three children were borne by three significant others. His oldest daughter is Kimber L. Eastwood, born in 1964, and his oldest son is Kyle C. Eastwood, born in 1968. His other children are: Alison Eastwood, born in 1972, Scott C. Reeves, born in 1986, Francesca R. F. Eastwood, born in 1993, and Morgan Eastwood, born in 1996.

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