As one of the greatest leading men in Hollywood’s history, Clint Eastwood put his all-American bravado on display in numerous classics before shifting his work behind the camera. Take a look at the story behind the man behind the Man With No Name.
A Heavy Baby
Nurses could not believe their eyes when they saw baby Clinton Eastwood Jr. He was so massive that they nicknamed him “Samson” for his considerable weight. At 12 pounds, he was almost twice the size of an average baby.
Role Of A Lifetime
It is near impossible to imagine another actor donning Eastwood’s poncho and brown hat as the Man With No Name. Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy launched Eastwood into stardom, but he was not Leone’s first choice for the role. At first, Leone offered it to established stars Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, and Richard Harrison. Leone was not wild about the idea when Harrison recommended Eastwood for the part, but he relented, and the Eastwood’s work became iconic.
Acting is not Eastwood’s only successful foray in Hollywood. Beginning with Play Misty For Me in 1971, Eastwood began directing many of the films in which he stars. Two of his films, Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, not only won the Academy Award for Best Picture but saw Eastwood receiving his first Oscars for Best Director. Three of his other films as director, Letters From Iwo Jima, Mystic River, and American Sniper, received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and/or Best Director.
Actor and Mayor
In the 80s, Eastwood became disappointed with the local government in his home town of Carmel By The Sea, California. He decided to take matters into his own hands and run for town Mayor in 1986. Eastwood surprised many and won the election, beginning a two-year term. He worked hard during his term to build for the future of the town, fighting to build a library and new parking areas, as well as working to support and flourish small businesses.
Saving A Friend
During the filming of the Dollars trilogy, Eastwood put aside his anti-hero role to help save “the Ugly” from certain death. In one scene with Eli Wallach, they were prepping a scene in which a bridge would explode. Before they took their places, Eastwood urged Wallach to find a safe place as something seemed off. Moments later, the bridge blew up without a cue. Without Eastwood’s awareness, Wallach could have died on set and thrown off the entire series.
Throughout his life, Eastwood has been known as quite the ladies man and womanizer. He has had numerous children with multiple women, but you might not know that he has only been married twice. His first attempt was with Maggie Johnson, then a swimsuit model, whom he married in 1953 and had two children with. They divorced in 1984, and he would not wed again until 1996 to Dina Ruiz. Their marriage would only make it to 2014 before their divorce was finalized.
Learning From The Best
Clint is happy to know that he has passed on his acting genes to some of his children. His son Scott recently appeared in the eighth installment of the Fast and Furious franchise. Clint worked side by side with his daughter Alison on her film Battlecreek. Alison has appeared in some of her father’s films, such as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, but has a greater passion for being behind the camera than in front of it.
Swim To Live
Before he became a star, Eastwood was drafted in the United States Army in 1951 to assist in the war effort in Korea. Legend has it that he was not sent to the front lines because he charmed an officer’s daughter into getting him assigned as a lifeguard at Ford Ord in California. It would eventually save his life when his plane ride from Seattle crashed in the Pacific. He swam three miles back to shore, later admitting that he thought he would die.
In a very un-Clint Eastwood move, his family became the center of a reality show on E!. The 2012 show, Mrs. Eastwood and Company, followed Dina Eastwood (his then-wife) and their children through their lives in Carmel By The Sea. Dina efforts to manage a South African a cappella group became a running plot on the show. Unsurprisingly, Clint himself was not wild about the show, and he only appeared in three episodes throughout its run. It only lasted ten episodes.
The Empty Chair
In one of the most bizarre moments of his career, Clint Eastwood appeared as a special guest at the 2012 Republican National Convention. The noted Republican appearing as a speaker was not odd, but his speech included him addressing an empty chair which was supposed to represent candidate President Barack Obama. The speech was well received by the crowd but was torn apart by the media for its strange dramatics. He ended the speech with his famed, “Go ahead, make my day,” from Dirty Harry.
The Same Poncho
If you have seen any of Sergio Leone’s films in the Dollars trilogy – A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – you will notice Eastwood wearing what seems to be the same brown poncho in each film. That’s because it is the same poncho. Clint claims never to have washed it, fearing that it would fall apart in the wash. He still holds onto the Hollywood relic to this day.
Francesca Eastwood, Clint’s beautiful daughter with Frances Fisher, is working hard to build her career in the shadow of her father. Starting as a model, Francesca has transitioned into acting over the past few years, finding roles in television and film. Her first major on-screen exposure was on Mrs. Eastwood and Company with her step mother and half siblings. In an episode of Fargo, she appeared with her mother as the younger and older versions of the same character.
A Talented Musician
Acting and directing are not Clint’s only contributions to film. He is also an established musician and singer. He released his first album in 1961 and was nominated for a Golden Globe for the title track of Grace is Gone. Impressively, he has composed the score for many of his hit films including, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, and J. Edgar. He is most influenced by jazz, country, western genres, beginning as a ragtime pianist.
Beneath his harsh and stern exterior, Eastwood has a secret devotion to spirituality. He revealed an affinity for meditation that stretches back 40 years. Eastwood claims that meditation helps him maintain a balance in his life. This does not translate back to any religious beliefs, as he does not believe in organized religion, but he does believe in self-help. While religion has no place in his life and he considers himself agnostic, he holds no hard feelings to those who do believe in religion.
Filming The Eiger Sanction became one of the most difficult roles in Eastwood’s life. The 1975 film required numerous stunts in the mountains, and instead of letting his stunt double work through the challenging course, Eastwood took on the stunts himself. It required extensive training on climbing courses, mountaineering, and rope climbing, but he was able to pull it off. At the time, special effects were not assisted by CGI, so Eastwood put his body on the line to make it look as real as possible.
The Next President
Before he briefly became a local politician, Eastwood considered running for president. During Ronald Reagan’s first term, his former partner Sondra Locke admitted that Eastwood mentioned it while they were in Washington DC. As they passed the White House in their limousine, he said that “all of this could be theirs.” This came years after Eastwood saw Reagan speak as the Screen Actors Guild president before his days in politics. Eastwood had a strange feeling that Reagan could one day be president.
Clint Eastwood seems to have made a habit out of saving people’s lives. With quick instincts, Eastwood saved a local man from choking to death. Eastwood was attending a gala before a golf tournament when he noticed Steve John, a 50-year-old man, choking on a piece of cheese. John claims Eastwood took one look at him and realized what was happening before racing over to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Fortunately for John, Eastwood was there to save the day.
Like Father, Like Son
If you glance at Scott Eastwood, you might think that he is a younger version of his father. Clint’s youngest son from his relationship with Jacelyn Reeves, Scott has made a nice career for himself. He has appeared in two of his father’s films, Flags of Our Fathers (his first film credit) and Gran Torino. Scott has shown the ability to mock his resemblance to his father by once dressing up as the Man With No Name to a Halloween charity event.
Stranger Than Fiction
Directing has become a common occupation for Eastwood over the last few decades. His first film, Play Misty For Me, starred Clint as a radio disc jockey dealing with a female stalker fan played by Jessica Walter. In an eerie coincidence, Eastwood dealt with a stalker in real life that broke into his house. It turned out to be a fan claiming to be a son of Eastwood’s. He called the authorities to handle it appropriately.
While on the set for the TV show Rawhide in 1964, Eastwood met a young actress and stuntwoman named Roxanne Tunis. The womanizer that he was, Eastwood and Tunis began an affair during filming. If the affair was not a secret, their child certainly was. Tunis and Eastwood kept their child secret until a 1989 National Enquirer story broke the news. Clint and his daughter Kimber have always had a rocky relationship, with Kimber describing them as “estranged from each other.”
The French Connection
The French seem to really love Clint Eastwood, showering praise on him and his films for years. Some of his films became bigger hits in France than they did in the United States. The French love him so much that they awarded him with the country’s highest civilian honor, Légion d’honneur, in 2007 because, according to President Chirac he represents “the best of Hollywood.” Two years later, he would be awarded the Lumière Award to honor his career in film and contributions to the arts.
Changing His Views
Supporting the Republican party has been a major passion of Eastwood’s since he voted for Dwight Eisenhower at his earliest voting eligibility. He still believes in the Republican but has seen his political views move further from tradition conservative views and closer to the Libertarian party. In 1999 he claimed to be “a social liberal and fiscal conservative before it became fashionable.” He is now a registered Libertarian. In his past, he has supported Republican and Democratic nominees.
While the world saw Clint Eastwood as one of the coolest guys on the planet, to his kids, he was just the dorky dad. At times, they would ask to be dropped off blocks before they reached the school to avoid being seen with him by their friends. How could anyone be embarrassed to be Clint Eastwood’s children? Like most children, it took until later in their lives to appreciate their father and understand who he was.
Runs In The Family
Eastwood’s children seem to pick up all of his skills. Some of his children became actors and directors, but his oldest son followed in another path laid out by Clint – professional musician. Kyle Eastwood is a jazz musician playing electric, fretless, and double bass. Just because he is not an actor, does not mean he has not collaborated with his father. Kyle has contributed music to nine Clint Eastwood films including Letters From Iwo Jima, Gran Torino, and Mystic River.
Movie studios must love Clint Eastwood’s approach to filmmaking. As a young actor, he became increasingly frustrated with reshooting scenes multiple times. He became notorious for commenting and bothering directors with his frustration. When he became a director himself, Clint made the decision to avoid hypocrisy and avoid reshoots when possible. He would strive to shoot each scene in one take. This allowed his films to stay on schedule and within the budget to the delight of the producers and studios.
Eastwood got himself into a semi-scandal in the 1980s with a Vietnam veteran. James “Bo” Gritz, a Vietnam lieutenant colonel, was raising money to rescue missing in action soldiers whom he believed were prisoners of war in Laos. Eastwood wanted to help and got in touch with Gritz. Clint was to film a project on the Thailand border to create a diversion so Gritz could save the men, as well as fundraise for the secret mission from his executive friends.
The Plot Thickens
Eastwood eventually agreed to pay for Gritz’s mission, offering up to $50,000. Clint also set up a meeting between Gritz, his second in command and Ronald Reagan to discuss the details of this dangerous plan. Reagan had the chief deputy to the National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane look into the mission, but eventually agreed it was not a good idea. They went forward with the plan until police came by during an ill-fated training session. Eastwood withdrew his support, but Gritz continued until he was captured in Laos.
Advocate Of Legislation
Clint Eastwood might play gunslinging trigger-happy outlaws and law enforcement characters in his films, but that does not mean he is an advocate for firearms. In fact, he feels very strongly towards and has advocated publicly for gun control. He has advocated for a mandatory waiting period, the need for gun registration and the elimination of mail ordered firearms. In a 1995 interview with Larry King, he openly questioned the necessity of assault weapons among a series of gun related questions.
The Next James Bond
In what could have changed the franchise forever, Clint Eastwood was offered the role as the world’s most famous spy, James Bond. Sean Connery announced that he would not continue in the role beyond Diamonds Are Forever, and the series’ producers felt Eastwood would make a perfect replacement. He was honored by the offered and its high paycheck, but referred to it as “somebody else’s gig.” He believed it should be played by a Brit and the role went to Roger Moore.
Made His Day
Similar to The Man With No Name, Clint Eastwood was not the first choice to play his iconic role of Harry Callahan. Before they settled on Eastwood, they wanted to Robert Mitchum or Steve McQueen to take on the part. They made a push to hire Frank Sinatra as Callahan, but Sinatra had to turn it down due to his inability to hold a gun because of a hand problem. When Eastwood heard this, he called it a “pretty lame excuse” and accepted the role.
Pursue The Dream
The story of Eastwood, the actor, began while he was in the army. His Army friends continually pushed him to move to Los Angeles so he could become an actor. He gave in and moved to Hollywood in 1954 and signed a contract with Universal Studios soon. At first, he only appeared in B-movies, but the bigger roles would come. Once, he was fired because the director felt his Adam’s Apple was too prominent. His break came on hit tv show Rawhide.