31 may, 1930
Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. Born in San Francisco on May 31, 1930 to itinerant workers, Eastwood grew up around Northern California and attended some eight schools before the family settled in Springfield, Oregon during his teen years. A slow bloomer in almost every regard, he graduated from high school when he was nearly 19, in an era where most graduated at 16 or 17. He had odd jobs as a lumberjack and forest fighter in Oregon, and as a steelworker in Seattle. Moving back to California at the age of 22, Eastwood briefly attended junior college in Los Angeles but dropped out to pursue acting.
Eastwood started finding work as an actor in 1955 with uncredited bit parts in B-movies like Revenge of the Creature (1955). He supported himself by digging pools while trying to break into the industry, until getting his big break on the TV series "Rawhide" (1959), where he was a supporting cast member for six years. While still on the show, Eastwood found bigger and better things with Per un pugno di dollari (1964), Per qualche dollaro in più (1965) and Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. (1966), a trilogy of low-budget Spaghetti westerns that were released in the United States over the period of 1967-68 and made him a household name at last. Eastwood proved that his newfound stardom was no fluke when his first Hollywood vehicle, Hang 'Em High (1968), became a box office success. He also starred in Coogan's Bluff (1968), before playing second fiddle to Richard Burton in the World War II epic Where Eagles Dare (1968) and Lee Marvin in the unusual musical Paint Your Wagon (1969). In 1970 Eastwood went in an experimental direction with the offbeat Kelly's Heroes (1970) and Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970).
1971 proved to be a turning point in Eastwood's career and one of his best years in film, if not the best. He starred in The Beguiled (1971) and the cult classic Play Misty for Me (1971), then played the hard edge police inspector in Dirty Harry (1971), which elevated his status from star to superstar and invented the loose-cannon cop genre that has been imitated even to this day. Eastwood had a constant succession of entertaining films in the following years, teaming up with Jeff Bridges for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), starring in the "Dirty Harry" sequels Magnum Force (1973) and The Enforcer (1976), the revisionist westerns Joe Kidd (1972), High Plains Drifter (1973) and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), The Gauntlet (1977), and the fact-based thriller Escape from Alcatraz (1979). He also branched out into the comedy genre in 1978 with Every Which Way But Loose (1978), which became the biggest hit of his career up to that time. Taking inflation into account, it still is.
Eastwood's non-stop success continued into the eighties with Any Which Way You Can (1980), the blockbuster sequel to "Every Which Way But Loose". The fourth "Dirty Harry" film, Sudden Impact (1983), was the highest-grossing film of the franchise and spawned Eastwood's trademark catchphrase, "Make my day". Eastwood also starred in Firefox (1982), Tightrope (1984), City Heat (1984) (with Burt Reynolds), Pale Rider (1985), and Heartbreak Ridge (1986), which were all big hits at the box office. In 1988 Eastwood did his fifth and up to this point final "Dirty Harry" movie, The Dead Pool (1988). Although it was a success overall, it did not have the box office punch his previous films had. Shortly thereafter, with flops like Pink Cadillac (1989) and The Rookie (1990), it became apparent that Eastwood's star was declining as it never had before. He then started taking on more personal projects, such as White Hunter Black Heart (1990), a loose biography of John Huston.
But Eastwood quickly bounced back, first with his western, Unforgiven (1992), which garnered his first Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Director (he won the latter). Then he took on the secret service in In the Line of Fire (1993), which was an instant hit, followed by the interesting but poorly received drama, A Perfect World (1993), with Kevin Costner. Next up was a hugely successful love story, The Bridges of Madison County (1995), with Meryl Streep. Subsequent films were solid but nothing really stuck out. Among them were the well-received Absolute Power (1997) and Space Cowboys (2000), and the badly received True Crime (1999) and Blood Work (2002). But it wouldn't be long before Eastwood was back on top with another box office smash.
In 2004, he directed, co-produced and starred in the boxing drama Million Dollar Baby (2004) alongside Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. The film was a critical and commercial triumph, with Eastwood receiving his second Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and another win for Best Director. Behind the camera, he scored further successes with the multi-award-winning films Mystic River (2003), Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), and Changeling (2008) which starred Angelina Jolie. After four years away from acting, Eastwood's return to the screen in Gran Torino (2008) gave him a $30 million opening weekend, proving his star power has not diminished a bit.
Eastwood has managed to keep his complicated personal life private and has been featured in the tabloids considerably less than other stars of his stature. He had a long time relationship with frequent co-star Sondra Locke and has eight children by six other women, only two of whom he married. Clint Eastwood lives in Carmel.