20 Things You Didn’t Know About Clint Eastwood
Not so much a living legend as some kind of living, breathing deity of the silver screen, Clint Eastwood is a Hollywood survivor who has been at the height of fame now for almost 60 years straight. Not bad for an actor who was initially dismissed as being unable to act.
Now a multiple Oscar-winning director and musician, too, Eastwood has proven himself a man of many talents.
He’s also lived a life, over his many years, that the rest of us could scarcely imagine. Here are 20 things you never knew about Clint Eastwood.
20. No one knows just how many children he has (maybe not even him)
According to the LA Times, he has eight children. To People magazine, he has seven.
According to a 2012 documentary, meanwhile, the number of children fathered by Clint Eastwood is ‘unknown’, with the possibility given that the actor first became a father as early as high school.
Nobody, including Eastwood’s biographer, has landed on an official number of Eastwood children.
Seemingly not even Clint is sure how many kids he’s spawned: After David Letterman said to Eastwood in 2009, “You have, is it… seven children?”, Eastwood responded with “Uh, at least”.
Eastwood’s eight official kids come from a total of seven women. Eastwood certainly wasn’t afraid of sewing his seed!
19. His pre-fame jobs included military lifeguard and firefighter
Clint Eastwood has had a long career in Hollywood. Now aged 88, Clint has been acting in leading roles since 1959, when he was first cast in the western series Rawhide, meaning he’s been a star in the biz for near six decades.
Everyone has to start somewhere, however, and Eastwood didn’t hit the ground running as an actor.
Even after he broke into Hollywood, he still struggled for many years, as a bit-part player on a low-paying contract for Universal, and so had to supplement his income with various jobs.
Among Eastwood’s early jobs were: grocery clerk, golf caddy and forest firefighter. He was also a lifeguard and projectionist in the military during the Korean War.
Nowadays, Eastwood is the proud owner of his very own gold club, and we bet he wouldn’t be seen dead doing anything remotely like manual labour.
18. He became a western star because a studio head thought he “looked like a cowboy”
Ask anyone to name a western star, and if they don’t give you ‘John Wayne’, they’re almost guaranteed to drop Clint Eastwood’s name. Nobody, apart from Wayne, has become more synonymous with the western genre than Eastwood.
It’s no surprise, considering Eastwood’s run as a western star from 1959 to 1992 (the year Unforgiven, Clint’s last western to date, was released).
From the very beginning, he was typecast as a western leading man, and it all came down to him simply having the right ‘look’.
It was while visiting the CBS lot that Eastwood was, reportedly, first spotted by a studio exec who liked Eastwood because he “looked like a cowboy”.
It was because of that that Eastwood was later cast in the lead role of Rowdy Yates in Rawhide, setting him on the path to stardom.
17. That poncho wasn’t washed once throughout the whole Dollars trilogy
Clint Eastwood is a king of cool, and was never more so than in his heyday as a western star in the late 1960s.
How would it make you feel, though, to discover that through every scene of the Dollars films, from A Fistful of Dollars through to For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, that the poncho Eastwood wears is getting progressively smellier with each passing frame?
The Man With No Name character’s famous shawl, called a serape, went unwashed throughout the baking Spanish and Italian shoots of all three films, which knocks Eastwood (marginally) down the cool rankings.
And the reason behind this rather dubious decision? Well, according to Eastwood ‘if you washed it would fall apart’.
The actor apparently still has this infamous poncho, and we can only assume it takes pride of place in his wardrobe.
16. His politics aren’t as straightforward as you think
In one of the more regrettable moments of the Donald Trump presidential campaign, Clint Eastwood – one-time mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California – revealed he intended to vote for the former reality star.
Following Eastwood’s infamous chair stunt in 2012, in which he argued with an empty chair that he pretended was Barack Obama, it seemed Eastwood’s politics were clear cut.
Eastwood, however, has never chimed with Trump’s Republican party or with Trump’s politics in general.
The actor-director rejects the label of ‘conservative’, considers himself to be “too individualistic to be either right-wing or left-wing”, and has in fact been a registered Libertarian since 2009.
Unlike Trump and the modern Republican party, Eastwood is anti-war, pro-gun control, pro-choice and has historically supported the LGBT community, including in the USA’s landmark gay marriage ruling. He also classes his own films as ‘apolitical’.
15. He’s the second biggest box office draw of all time
Such has been his longevity, not to mention his enduring popularity through the decades, that Clint Eastwood has been one of the more reliable movie stars in Hollywood.
Adjusted for inflation, his films as star have to date grossed over $5 billion, averaging at more than $100 million box office per film.
Eastwood is also, according to a poll published by the Quigley Publishing Company from 1932 to 2013 to rank each year’s top 10 ‘moneymaking’ stars, one of the most consistent box office draws of all time.
The Quigley poll found that Eastwood was in 21 separate years between 1968 and 1993 one of the 10 most reliable stars for bringing audiences to the theatre.
This puts Eastwood second, with that other western star, John Wayne, coming first, ranking as he did in the top ten a total of 25 times.
14. At 89, he’s still one of the highest-paid directors in Hollywood
When you imagine a highly paid movie director, you probably think the likes of the Russos, those filmmaking brothers behind several recent Avengers movies, or consistent box office raider Michael Bay. These are the directors who reliably gross hundreds of millions at the worldwide box office.
You might think Clint Eastwood, by comparison, is on peanuts. After all, he makes mid- to low-budget dramas, not exactly recipes for box office gold these days.
Maybe it’s the clout he has from years in the industry, or maybe it’s because he’s well-known for bringing films in under-budget and before time, but Eastwood in fact still commands hefty paydays to direct his movies.
For example, for Invictus and Hereafter, neither of which set the box office alight, Eastwood made $6 million apiece.
This is still less than what Clint would make were he to direct a Marvel movie, but when he scores a hit as he did with American Sniper, which made half a billion dollars globally, Eastwood bags a fortune in profit percentages that filmmakers a third of his age could only dream of.
13. His son Kyle is often responsible for the music in his films
Clint has always been a music man, a jazz fan who has played in front of live audiences over the years and who has composed the score for several of his own movies, so it’s no surprise that one of his children has developed a taste for music too.
Kyle Eastwood, Clint’s son by Margaret Neville Johnson, is a jazz musician and composer in his own right and has been responsible for part or all of the music in most of his dad’s films this century.
Having first written a song for a Clint movie in 1990, the cop drama The Rookie, Kyle has since contributed music to ten of his father’s films, including scoring Letters From Iwo Jima, Invictus and Gran Torino outright.
Eastwood is also featured on one of his son’s jazz albums, Paris Blue. Well, kind of…
If you listen carefully to the track Big Noise, you’ll hear a sample of him whistling.
12. He’s an Oscar record-breaker
Since he finally broke through with the Academy with 1992’s Unforgiven, which won four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director, Clint Eastwood has made several returns to Academy Awards ceremonies over the years.
Now, Eastwood is a five-time Oscar winner with a further seven nominations from the Academy. One of his big winners came in 2004, with his boxing drama Million Dollar Baby, which won four Oscars from seven nominations.
Two of these wins, Best Picture and Best Director, were for Eastwood. And considering Eastwood was 74 when he picked up the Best Director award, this makes him – to date – the oldest person to ever win it.
He’s also directed 11 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances, including Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman.
In addition to the aforementioned actors, Eastwood has directed himself to Oscar nominations for Best Actor on two different occasions, for Unforgiven in 1993 and Million Dollar Baby in 2005.
11. He founded a popular British-themed pub
Where Eagles Dare, a WWII adventure movie made for ultimate entertainment impact, is one of Eastwood’s many classics.
The actor had such a good time making it at the MGM Studios in rural England, around which he got to sample the local pubs and beers, that he was convinced to open his own British-themed pub.
Eastwood, along with two friends, opened The Hog’s Breath Inn in Carmel in 1972. It closed in 1999 (before later reopening under new management), but Eastwood managed to fit some shenanigans in while it lasted.
‘I had to terminate three pretty good waitresses in the first few months of operation’ explained co-founder Lippman.
‘Not because they went to bed with Clint Eastwood, but because they either talked about it all over the premises, or came in the next day acting like they owned the place.’
10. He turned down the chance to play both Superman and James Bond
In a career as long as his, there are bound to be many, many tantalising films that Clint Eastwood turned down for one reason or another.
We know for a fact that two of these were the late-1970s classics Sorcerer and Apocalypse Now.
Eastwood also said no to a couple of films that would have seen him inhabit two iconic characters, potentially for years to come. But James Bond and Superman weren’t figures Eastwood was interested in playing.
The films Clint was offered were an early version of 1978’s Superman and 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The roles would be filled by Christopher Reeve and George Lazenby, respectively, while Eastwood would go on to get his own iconic screen creation in Dirty Harry.
9. His boots in Unforgiven were the same ones he wore in Rawhide
Though he’s continued to act and direct since, Unforgiven in several ways represented a conclusion in Clint Eastwood’s career.
It’s an elegiac drama about growing old and out of one’s prime, and was intended as Eastwood’s final western film after decades of making them.
One tiny detail helps to make Unforgiven feel even more like a summation of Eastwood’s career.
In a nice touch, Eastwood’s character in the film, William Munny wears a type of footwear that eagle-eyed fans will have seen on the actor before.
Turns out the boots Munny wears are the same as those Eastwood’s Rowdy Yates wore in Rawhide right at the beginning of the actor’s career.
8. He has performed many of his own stunts
Back in 1975, Eastwood directed and starred in The Eiger Sanction. For the role, he was required to undertake some pretty challenging climbing stunts.
Eastwood took months to prepare for the part, training in Yosemite National Park.
He actually succeeded in climbing to the top of Lost Arrow Spire, which reaches a pretty impressive height of 1200 feet.
The White Spider section of the mountain was featured in the film, and is considered one of the most dangerous climbs in the world.
Eastwood was lowered onto the rock face using tether lines, accompanied by a crew of professional climbers. In a tragic turn of events, British rigger David Knowles was killed in a landslide on the second day of filming.
7. He’s notorious for finishing his films early as a director
Eastwood is always keen to finish his productions as quickly as possible, and he prefers to take just one take wherever possible.
Apparently, he doesn’t even use a storyboard, and refused to listen to test screening results.
He also prefers to say ‘okay’ instead of ‘cut’ and ‘action’, claiming it’s much more straightforward.
As well as this, he insists the actors he directs wear as little makeup as possible, and he usually prints first takes.
This allowed him to consistently finish his films on schedule and on budget.
6. He’s not immune to some serious road rage
In 1989, Hollywood producer Stacy McLaughlin filed a $100,000 lawsuit against Eastwood.
This was after Clint allegedly ‘knowingly, intentionally and deliberately’ rammed his truck into her car.
Apparently, the incident occurred after McLaughlin accidentally parked in the actor’s space whilst dropping off a tape to the studio.
Eastwood contended the claims, explaining that he was only trying to park his vehicle in the rightful place. He ended up paying $960 to repair the car’s bumper and headlights.
McLaughlin sought the additional money on punitive damages, claiming that Eastwood acted in malice, although ultimately, the judge refused to grant the damage.
5. Universal fired him over his appearance
Eastwood was employed by Universal as a contract player in the mid-1950s. He worked alongside another actor whose name you might vaguely recall: the legendary Burt Reynolds.
Unfortunately, the pair were actually fired by Universal on the same day, and by the same director.
Whilst some sources state the reason for Eastwood’s employment being terminated as being the mole above his lip, others argue that it was due to his rather prominent Adam’s Apple.
Either way, this director was more than just a little bit shallow and Eastwood’s appearance was considered less than the Hollywood ideal.
There was a slightly more reasonable explanation for Reynolds being fired: apparently, he shoved said director into a water tank after an altercation over how to do a stunt fall.
4. He’s a talented musician
As well as being an incredible actor and director, Eastwood is also a musician. (Are there no ends to his talents?!)
The Western star is an accomplished Jazz pianist, and he performs much of the music for his own movies.
One of the most memorable soundtrack moments of Clint’s come in the bar scene in the 1993 film In the Line of Fire.
In 1963, he even released his own album, aptly titled Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favourites.
More recently, in 2001, Eastwood released a live album on which he is featured playing alongside various high-profile jazz musicians.
3. He was the mayor of a Californian town
In 1986, Eastwood made his foray into the world of politics when he became mayor of a small town called Carmel-by-the-Sea.
An idyllic town, some locals were angered when Eastwood was instated after it led to an influx of tourists flocking to the area.
Eastwood’s main priority was to provide the town with free ice cream, and he lifted a rather bizarre government ban on the sale and consumption of this culinary delight.
Government officials were not a fan of the town’s new mayor, with the president of the Resident’s Association saying ‘some people thought he was charming, but I disagree’.
Another local resident insisted that Eastwood was ‘a spoilt brat mayor’ and that the town acted like an ‘indulgent parent’. Ouch.
2. He’s not big on monogamy
Eastwood is notorious for his many short-lived relationships, some of which even overlapped. Eastwood was married to his first wife, Maggie Johnson, for over 20 years.
However, he was not exactly faithful throughout their relationship. He sired at least two children with other women whilst they were married, amid an extensive list of extramarital affairs.
In 1972, Eastwood embarked on a relationship with Sondra Locke, who was also married at the time.
Locke was seriously invested in their partnership, but it seems Eastwood refused to give up the buck on his philandering ways.
Most recently, he has been linked to restaurant hostess Christina Sandera, who at 55 is 34 years Eastwood’s junior.
1. He was expelled from high school for delinquent behaviour
Eastwood might be a major movie star, but it seems he wasn’t quite as invested in his education as he was his acting career.
He attended a total of three primary schools, all within walking distance of one another.
In one of these instances, he moved schools due to his poor academic performance, whilst delinquent behaviour was cited as being the cause in another case.
In 1945, Eastwood was studying at Piedmont High School. He was expelled from the school after he wrote an obscene suggestion to a school official, as well as burying someone in effigy on the school lawn.
He then transferred to Oakwood Technical High school, although it is unclear if he ever actually graduated.