The Tragic Truth About Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood has a long resume, in front of and behind the camera, which has made him a fortune. After rising to prominence as a star in the early '60s series "Rawhide," Eastwood set the ball rolling and hasn't stopped since. As of this writing, his latest project, "Juror #2," starring Leslie Bibb, is in the works. How does he do it, amid rising questions about his general appearance?

In a 2005 conversation with Film Comment, Eastwood, who was in his seventies at the time, remarked that growing older had impacted how he maneuvered the entertainment business."If there's any advantage to age, it's knowledge and experience, and until the day that some sort of presenility sets in, I figure I'll just go ahead and explore that," the producer said. Back then, he'd just released "Million Dollar Baby," a multiple Academy-award-winning film that earned him recognition for directing an acting. Speaking of his leading role in the film as the elderly boxing coach Frankie Dunn, Eastwood told the outlet, "At my age, I've seen enough of high points and low points that I have enough to draw from for this [role] and 10 more like it."

He wasn't kidding. Eastwood has had tear-jerking experiences (and some shady ones, too) throughout his life. Keep scrolling to take a trip down the entertainment powerhouse's lows.

The Great Depression shaped Clint Eastwood's childhood

Clint Eastwood was born on May 31, 1930, right after the United States economy began collapsing during the Great Depression. Per his account in an interview with Esquire, there weren't enough resources to work with at that time, which forced those who lived through the economic decline to harden up, unlike nowadays."We live in more of a pussy generation now, where everybody's become used to saying, 'Well, how do we handle it psychologically?'," Eastwood observed, adding, "I don't know if I can tell you exactly when the pussy generation started. Maybe when people started asking about the meaning of life."

According to an appearance Eastwood made on "The Barbara Walters Summer Special" in 1982, one major lesson he learned at the time—the importance of being industrious instead of relying on handouts—came from his father. "My dad used to preach to me all the time, 'nobody's going to give you anything ... you're gonna have to go out and earn whatever you get,'" he told Walters. Eastwood's credits in the entertainment industry speak to his work ethic.As of April 2024, he has acted in 72 productions, had 46 directing roles, produced over 50 movies and television shows, and composed 10 soundtracks in addition to other behind-the-scenes qualifications.

Clint Eastwood was always the shy new kid in school

Clint Eastwood's father, Clinton Eastwood Sr. not only gave his son the best advice on hard work, but he also led by example. Eastwood Sr. held many jobs in his lifetime, including top-tier managerial roles, per his profile on Find a Grave. When Eastwood Jr. was young, his father worked in investment and often changed companies. As Eastwood Sr. moved around, he took his family with him. 

According to Eastwood Jr.'s interview with the Telegraph, his family once had to make a 450-mile relocation from Sacramento to Pacific Palisades because his dad got a gig as a gas pump attendant. He told Esquire they settled in multiple locations in California including " Redding. Sacramento. Pacific Palisades. Back to Redding. Back to Sacramento. Over to Hayward. Niles. Oakland." As such, Eastwood Jr.'s education was all over the place, from one school to the next. "I was always the new guy in school," he told the publication." I was taller than most kids in my classes [but] I was a shy kid." 

He was involved in a near-fatal crash landing in the ocean

Just like his dad, Clint Eastwood has held several jobs, one of which is serving as the Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea in the mid-'80s. Eastwood started working informally when he was 13. When he cleared high school, he served as a gas station attendant, played the piano at a bar, and became a firefighter.

In his early twenties, Eastwood got into the army amid the Korean War but was never deployed. It was there that he had a horrendous experience while aboard a naval torpedo bomber on his way to Seattle, where his parents had settled. The red flags were there from the beginning since the plane had no sitting space fit for humans. He was huddled in when the door beneath him flung open, as he recounted in his 2010 conversation with The Telegraph. Eastwood later told The Hollywood Reporter, "Everything went wrong. Radios went out. Oxygen ran out. And finally we ran out of fuel up around Point Reyes, California."

He lost consciousness, and when he came to, the pilot was gearing up to make a forced landing far from the shore. He had to swim in the chilling water against the current for miles to reach the coastline. "It was an ordeal I never want to repeat," he told The Telegraph."I collapsed on the beach."

His first time on set was full of drama

He may be praised as a legend in Hollywood, but Clint Eastwood's start in the industry wasn't so smooth. He bagged a small part as Jennings on "Revenge of the Creature" in the mid-'50s. "I remember it was Jack Arnold directing and William Alland was the producer. Alland called me into his office and read me the scene and gave me the part. And that was it. He said, 'I'll take you down and we'll meet the director,'" Eastwood narrated in a chat with Continuum. He continued," I walked on the set and the director said, "What the hell is this? I told you I don't want to do that goddamn scene! Who's this guy?" I thought, I'm going to get punched— he was screaming and yelling— or else I was just going to wilt to the floor."

Eastwood's part ended up getting cut out. That was only one of the many obstacles he had as a beginner. Dealing with agents at the time, he said, was a Herculean task. Sometimes they'd only send him to casting calls to keep his hopes up, knowing he wasn't the right person for the job. 

Eastwood also had a difficult time being comfortable in his skin. In a chat with Reuters, in which he was discussing the new generation of actors, Eastwood said, "I'm always amazed at how good some of them are at such young ages because it took me forever to learn how to say my own name."

He was 'dumped' by Universal

If Clint Eastwood weren't acting, he would be a business administrator. It is the course he majored in at the Los Angeles City College, which he joined soon after leaving the army. He was uncertain about what career path he wanted to follow but began taking acting lessons. Eastwood was even homeless for a while before he got a job with Universal, paying $75 per week. It didn't last long. "[I] was a contract player for 1-1/2 years. Then they dumped me," Eastwood shared with Bright Lights.

Eastwood's "City Heat" co-star Burt Reynolds, who was also fired at the same time, recalled what studio executives told them on "Conan," revealing, "Well, Clint [Eastwood], they said 'You know, you talk too slow. And your tooth is chipped and you won't get it fixed, and ... you don't listen to anybody. You just wanna do things your own way.' And I said, 'Why are you firing me?' And they said, 'You can't act.'"

After leaving Universal, Eastwood tried to find jobs at every station he could think of, but they weren't willing to take him on. He kept knocking on doors until he found his big break on "Rawhide."

Clint Eastwood lost his father to a heart attack

According to the biography "Clint: The Life and Legend" by Patrick McGilligan, Clint Eastwood's father, Clinton Eastwood Sr. was getting ready to play golf in July 1970 when his wife, Ruth Wood got suspicious that he was taking too long. Wood went to see what was wrong, and stumbled upon him in the middle of a heart attack. Eastwood Sr. died that day.

Eastwood Jr. told Reuters his dad lived a sedentary life. "He didn't take very good care of himself," the "Gran Torino" actor said. According to a different conversation he had with Outsider Magazine, (via Express) it was all the motivation he needed to live an active lifestyle."Stay away from carbohydrates, especially rich desserts. Keep a scale in your bathroom. Get proper rest," Eastwood Jr. advised, also adding "Try to be optimistic. Eat fruits and raw vegetables. Take vitamins. Skip beverages loaded with sugars. Avoid alcohol in excess."

Eastwood Jr. expressed guilt over the state of his relationship with his father when he passed away. Speaking to Esquire, the celebrated director recalled that although he and his dad lived within close range, he barely had time to catch up because of his career. He later compensated for time lost by putting effort into his relationship with his mother.

His mother had a fatal stroke

Clint Eastwood's mom, Ruth Wood was kind and generous. In an interview with A Rabbit's Foot, Eastwood recalled that she'd often share food with people who visited their home in search of work or something to eat. The pair had a close mother-son bond, such that when Eastwood didn't thank her on stage when he won an Academy Award for Best Director (for "Unforgiven") in 1992, he vowed to mention her in case he got the Best Picture award. And he did!

Unlike Eastwood's father, who died unexpectedly and at what the actor considered a premature age, his mother lived until she was 97. Wood died in February 2006 after suffering a stroke. Until she took her last breath, Eastwood was determined to save her, but she, on the other hand, was ready to die.

"The only thing she ever said to me, toward the last, she said, 'I want out of here, I am tired.' And I said 'No, no, three more years. We get the century mark,'" Eastwood shared in his interview with Reuters. "When she finally did pass away, she couldn't talk because she had had a stroke. They said 'Do you want to be resuscitated for while?' And she said 'no.' So, I had to grant her that wish."

He had a cruel separation from Sondra Locke

When Sondra Locke first met Clint Eastwood, it wasn't love at first sight. Locke told Wand'rin' Star, "Clint himself was the last person I would have imagined myself romantically linked." The couple got together while Eastwood was still married to Margaret "Maggie" Johnson, with whom he'd been together for more than two decades.

Years later, the duo was embroiled in a hostile separation. They began clashing when Locke, who appeared in numerous Eastwood films such as "The Gauntlet" and "The Outlaw Josey Wales," wanted to venture out on her own. "I understood it would be at the risk of our relationship," Locke told The Washington Post about the move. "And when I did, that was the beginning of the end." In April 1989, Locke revealed that Eastwood kicked her out of the Bel-Air mansion they'd both occupied since the early '80s.

She later took the filmmaker to court in a palimony case. Eastwood reportedly talked her into a non-existent movie deal in exchange for dropping the lawsuit, and when he didn't keep his word, she continued her pursuit for justice. In September 1996, the pair finally came to an out-of-court agreement for an undisclosed sum. All that time, and until she died in 2018, Locke was married to carver Gordon Anderson.

Clint Eastwood's big family has reportedly had complications

Clint Eastwood has a large family which includes eight children he has by six different women. Clint's oldest child, Laurie Murray, lived with a couple who adopted her until she went on a quest to find out who her biological parents were. Per Daily Mail, Clint did not know of Murray's existence until she reached out. As of this writing, the identity of Murray's biological mother remains sealed. Murray has pretty much been incorporated into the family since she's made public appearances with Eastwood.

Clint's second daughter, Kimber Lynn Eastwood, was born in 1964 to Clint and Roxanne Tunis, who died at 93 in 2023. According to the book "Clint: The Life and Legend," Kimber grew up to have a career in makeup artistry in Hollywood and also ventured into production (per Fox New Mexico). Over the years, she reportedly gave different accounts of the exact nature of her relationship with her father.

"In one publication Kimber was quoted as saying she and her dad had an excellent relationship, and that the star had arranged to see her 'every three or four months' of her life," author Patrick McGilligan wrote. "Other times Kimber was quoted as expressing frustration that Clint and she were not closer ('I've begged and begged for a relationship,' she reportedly said) and as referring to her father as 'His Highness.'"

Clint and Dina Eastwood had a contentious divorce

Dina Marie Fisher and Clint Eastwood first crossed paths in 1993 when he was still in a domestic partnership with Frances Fisher. Three years later, the lovebirds walked down the aisle. All seemed to be well in Dina and Eastwood's household, and they'd even have vacations with Frances. An anonymous source told People that things started taking a different turn when Dina landed the reality TV show "Mrs. Eastwood and Company." The claims were not far from the truth, since Dina herself confirmed that Eastwood's mood shifted when the concept, which started as she managed the band Overton, later morphed into a family affair.

"I think Clint thought it was great when it was the band and me," she revealed in an interview with "Showbiz Tonight," adding, "Once the kid got thrown into the mix I think a little resistance started." In late 2013, Dina, who shares one child with Eastwood, formally sought a divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. According to an interview with "Bethenny," the process was an uphill task.

"He's lovely, he hasn't done much," Dina said of Eastwood. "It's other people around him [who] have done things that ... blown me away." A little over a year after she did her filing, Dina and Clint's marriage formally ended. She's since moved on with basketball coach Scott Fisher.