Hand color tinted photo of Clint Eastwood from the 1976 movie, The Outlaw Josey Wales
Clinton “Clint” Eastwood, Jr. (born May 31, 1930) is an American actor, film director, film producer and composer. He has received five Academy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award and five People’s Choice Awards—including one for Favorite All-Time Motion Picture Star.
Eastwood is primarily known for his alienated, morally ambiguous, anti-hero acting roles in violent action and western films, particularly in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Following his role on the long-running television series Rawhide, he went on to star as the Man With No Name in the Dollars trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns and as Inspector Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry film series. These roles have made him an enduring icon of masculinity. Eastwood is also known for his comedic efforts in Every Which Way but Loose (1978) and Any Which Way You Can (1980), his two highest-grossing films after adjustment for inflation.
For his work in the films Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), Eastwood won Academy Awards for Best Director, producer of the Best Picture and received nominations for Best Actor. He also received Oscar nominations as Best Director for Mystic River (2003) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2007), along with a Golden Globe for his direction of Bird (1988). These films in particular, as well as others such as Play Misty for Me (1971), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Escape from Alcatraz (1979), In the Line of Fire (1993), The Bridges of Madison County (1995) and Gran Torino (2008) have all received great critical acclaim and commercial success. He has directed most of his movies since the early 1970s and produced and directed all of his films dating back to 1993’s A Perfect World.
He also served as the non-partisan mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California from 1986–1988, tending to support small business interests on the one hand and environmental protection on the other.
Eastwood was born in San Francisco, California, to Clinton Eastwood Sr., a steelworker and migrant worker, and Margaret Ruth (Runner) Eastwood, a factory worker. He was a large baby (11 pounds and 6 ounces) and was named “Samson” by the nurses in the hospital. Eastwood has English, Scottish, Dutch and Irish ancestry and was raised in a “middle class Protestant home”. His family moved often, as his father worked at different jobs along the West Coast. The family settled in Piedmont, California, where Eastwood attended Piedmont Junior High School and Piedmont Senior High School.
Eastwood was a bored student and records indicate he had to attend summer school. Despite his athletic and musical talents, Eastwood shunned school teams and the band. He was told he would make a good basketball player, but he was interested in individual pursuits like tennis and golf, a passion he retains today. He transferred to Oakland Technical High School, where the drama teachers encouraged him to take part in school plays, but was not interested. According to Eastwood, all he had on his mind were “fast cars and easy women”. He took auto mechanic courses and studied aircraft maintenance, rebuilding both aircraft and car engines. Eastwood also became a pianist; according to a friend, he “would actually play the piano until his fingers were bleeding”.
By early 1949, his father moved to a plant in Seattle. Eastwood had to move in with a friend, Harry Pendleton, to finish high school in Oakland. He was invited to a house party in Malibu, where he met the film director Howard Hawks, who with John Ford would influence his career. Eastwood rejoined his family in Seattle when he was 19 and he worked at the Weyerhaeuser Company pulp mill in Springfield, Oregon with his father. He worked briefly as a lifeguard after obtaining a certificate from a Red Cross course, and played ragtime piano at a bar in Oakland.
Eastwood intended to enter Seattle University and major in music, but in 1950, during the Korean War, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Fort Ord where his certificate as a lifeguard got him appointed as a life-saving and swimming instructor. Eastwood excelled as an instructor and was promoted to corporal. He visited Carmel for the first time and remarked that “someday I’d like to live here”, although he confessed he had gained unwanted attention from a 23 year old school teacher, a one night stand, who stalked him and threatened to kill herself.
In October 1951, Eastwood was aboard a Douglas AD-1 military aircraft that crashed into the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco’s Drake’s Bay. The aircraft had departed from Seattle, bound for Mather Air Force Base at Sacramento. When the intercommunications system failed, the aircraft was forced to ditch in the sea two miles off Point Reyes. Eastwood escaped serious injury, and using an inflatable raft, he swam to shore. The crash was headline news on October 1, 1951 in the San Francisco Chronicle. Eastwood testified at an investigating hearing, and this kept him from going to Korea with the rest of his unit. During his military service, Eastwood became friends with future actors Martin Milner and David Janssen.
Eastwood left Fort Ord in the spring of 1951 and moved back up to Seattle where he worked as a lifeguard for some time. However, as he had little money and few friends in Seattle, he moved down to Los Angeles. Eastwood began a romance with a girl named Maggie Johnson and during this time he worked managing an apartment house in Beverly Hills by day (into which he then moved) and worked at a Signal Oil gas station by night. He signed up to study at Los Angeles City College and quickly became engaged to Maggie; they married shortly before Christmas 1953 in South Pasadena with friend Harry Pendleton as his best man, and honeymooned in Carmel.
Becoming an actor
According to the CBS press release for Rawhide, Universal (known then as Universal-International) film company happened to be shooting in Fort Ord and an enterprising assistant spotted Eastwood and invited him to meet the director. However, the key figure, according to his official biography was a man named Chuck Hill, who was stationed in Fort Ord and had contacts in Hollywood. While in Los Angeles, Hill had reacquainted with Eastwood and with the help of an attractive telephone operator who took a shining to him, managed to succeed in sneaking Eastwood into a Universal studio and showed him to cameraman Irving Glassberg. Glassberg was impressed with his appearance and stature and believed him to be, “the sort of good looking young man that has traditionally done well in the movies”.
Glassberg arranged for director Arthur Lubin to meet Eastwood at the gas station where he was working in the evenings in Los Angeles. Lubin, like Glassberg was highly impressed, remarking, “so tall and slim and very handsome looking”. He swiftly arranged for Eastwood’s first audition but was rather less enthusiastic, remarking, “He was quite amateurish. He didn’t know which way to turn or which way to go or do anything”. Neverless, he told Eastwood not to give up, and suggested he attend drama classes, and later arranged for an initial contract for Eastwood in April 1954 at $100 a week. Some people in Hollywood, including his wife Maggie, were suspicious of Lubin’s intentions towards Eastwood; he was homosexual and maintained a close friendship with Eastwood in the years that followed. After signing, Eastwood was required to perform in front of staff members, including actress Myrna Hansen. He played Alan Squier, a disillusioned English intellectual from The Petrified Forest and in one scene was required to strip in front of the Universal staff. He was initially criticised for his speech and awkward manner; he was soft-spoken and in performing in front of people was cold, stiff and awkward. Fellow talent school actor John Saxon, described Eastwood as, “being like a kind of hayseed.. Thin, rural, with a prominent Adam’s Apple, very laconic and slow speechwise.” The new trainee was certainly not naturally disposed to being a leading man. He lacked creative imagination in the improvisations and although he had a sense of humor and was successful with women offscreen, it didn’t transcend into his early acting.
Universal Studios: Training and development
In May 1954, Eastwood made his first real audition, trying out for a part in Six Bridges to Cross, a film about the Brinks robbery that would mark the debut of actor Sal Mineo. Director Joseph Pevney was not impressed by his acting and rejected him for any role. Later he tried out for Brigadoon, The Constant Nymph, Bengal Brigade and The Seven Year Itch in May 1954, Sign of the Pagan (June), Smoke Signal (August) and Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops (September), all without success. Eastwood was eventually given a minor role by director Jack Arnold in the film Revenge of the Creature, a film set in the Amazon jungle, which was the sequel to The Creature from the Black Lagoon which had been released just months earlier. Eastwood played the role of Jennings, a white-coated lab technician who assists the doctor (John Agar) in researching the “creature” and has a liking to white rats used in testing, keeping one in his pocket. His scene was shot in one day on Friday, July 30, 1954 at Stage No. 16 in Universal, although much of the rest of the film was shot at Marineland south of St Augustine, Florida.
Following this, the young Eastwood and his wife Maggie moved into an apartment at Villa Sands at 4040 Arch Drive off Ventura Boulevard to be closer to the Universal lot, also occupied by fellow Universal actresses Gia Scala and Lili Kardell. It also gave Eastwood an opportunity to continue his swimming as it had notable swimming facilities, and the apartment block became a venue for many swimsuit photoshoots, including a memorable one of Anita Ekberg in a leopard skin bikini. Maggie helped supplement the income by working as a model, and toyed with the idea of acting. In Christmas 1954, he agreed to play the part of a scarecrow in the annual musical given to the children of the employees of the Universal studio. Meanwhile, Eastwood was coached by Jess Kimmel and Jack Kosslyn, and UCLA professor, Dr. Daniel Vandraegen who specialized in correcting bad speech. Eastwood had an early tendency to speak almost in a sibilant whisper and was advised to project his voice. These traits never fully went away, but actually worked in his favor in his later films, especially as the Man with No Name in which he often hissed his lines through clenched teeth. Although Clint was self-conscious on camera, he demonstrated a strength in displaying anger onscreen, and in one improvised scene during training with Betty Jane Howarth, it left her in tears.
At this time, Eastwood was likened to Gary Cooper and that he resembled a tall, rangy version of James Dean with his high forehead and unruly quiff. Eastwood was a great admirer of Dean and his rebel image. However, one day he was introduced to James Dean at Lili Kardell’s apartment and Dean showed little enthusiasm, prompting Eastwood to yank him to his feet and chort, “Goddamn it, fellow, stand up when I speak to you”, although he was apparently kidding. Eastwood also met Charlton Heston for the first time at a gym, mistaking him for Chuck Connors.
In September 1954, Eastwood worked for three weeks on Arthur Lubin’s Lady Godiva of Coventry in which he donned a medieval costume, and then in February 1955, won a role playing “Jonesy”, a sailor in Francis in the Navy and his salary was raised to $300 a week for the four weeks of shooting. He again appeared in a Jack Arnold film, Tarantula, with a small role as a squadron pilot, again uncredited. In May 1955, Eastwood put four hours work into the film Never Say Goodbye, in which he again plays a white coated technician uttering a single line and again had a minor uncredited role as a ranch hand (his first western film) in August 1955 with Law Man, also known as Stars in the Dust. He gained experience behind the set, watching productions and dubbing and editing sessions of other films at Universal Studios, notably the Montgomery Clift film A Place in the Sun. Universal presented him with his first TV role with a small television debut on NBC’s Allen in Movieland on July 2, 1955, starring actors such as Tony Curtis and Benny Goodman. Although his records at Universal revealed his development, Universal along with Miss El Salvador and Miss Ceylon, terminated his contract on October 25, 1955, leaving Eastwood gutted and blaming casting director Robert Palmer, on whom he would exact revenge years later when Palmer came looking for employment at his Malpaso Company. Eastwood rejected him.
No Man’s Land: 1956–1958
On the recommendation of Betty Jane Howarth, Eastwood soon joined new publicity representatives, the Marsh Agency, who had represented actors such as Adam West and Richard Long. Althought Eastwood’s contract with Lubin had ended, he was important in landing Eastwood his biggest role to date; a featured role in the Ginger Rogers – Carol Channing western comedy, The First Travelling Saleslady. Eastwood played a recruitment officer for Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. He would also play a pilot in another of Lubin’s productions, Escapade in Japan and would make several TV appearances under Lubin even into the early 1960s. As Eastwood grew in success, he never spoke to Lubin again until 1992, shortly after winning his Oscar for Unforgiven, when Eastwood promised a lunch that never happened.
Without the contract of Lubin in the meantime, however, Eastwood was struggling. He was advised by Irving Leonard financially and under his influence changed talent agencies in rapid succession, the Kumin-Olenick Agency in 1956, and Mitchell Gertz in 1957. He landed a small role as temperamental army officer for a segment of ABC’s Reader’s Digest series, broadcast in January 1956, and later that year, a motorcycle gang member on a Highway Patrol episode. In 1957, Eastwood played a cadet who becomes involved in a skiing search and rescue in the ‘White Fury’ installment of the West Point series. He also appeared in an episode of the prime time series Wagon Train and a suicidal gold prospector in Death Valley Days. In 1958 he played a Navy lieutenant in a segment of Navy Log and in early 1959 made a notable guest appearance as a cowardly villain, intent on marrying a rich girl for money, in Maverick.
During this period, Eastwood applied for assorted day jobs, dug pools and began working out hard in the gym. He attended further acting classes held by Jack Kosslyn who students also included people like Nick Adams, Irish McCalla, Jamie Farr and Jeanne Baird and other developing actors. Eastwood also displayed an early toughness in real life when on one evening Eastwood, his wife, Floyd Simmons and another couple had gone to dinner at Trader Vic’s and were theatened at gunpoint before entering the restaurant by a gang of Latin thugs. Although his friends turned to flee, Clint stood his ground and growled, “Go on and pull that trigger, you little son of a bitch, and I’ll kill you before I hit the ground”. The thugs ran off. On another occasion, Clint and friend Fritz Manes were at a bar on Highland Avenue where Clint’s long, wavy hair caught the attention of a group of sailors who taunted him and called him a “Hollywood faggot”. One of them landed a punch to Eastwood’s face, but Eastwood surprised them, putting two of the men in hospital and injuring the others.
Eastwood was credited for his roles in several more films. He auditioned for the film The Spirit of St. Louis, a Billy Wilder biopic about aviator Charles Lindbergh. He was rejected and the role in the end went to Jimmy Stewart who just put on makeup to make him look younger. He did however have a small part as an aviator in the French picture Lafayette Escadrille, and played an ex-renegade in the Confederacy in Ambush at Cimarron Pass, his biggest screen role to date opposite Scott Brady. His part was shot in nine days for Regal Films Inc. Out of frustration, he dismissed the film as “probably the lousiest Western ever made”, and said, “It was sooo bad. I just kept sinking lower and lower in my seat and just wanted to quit”. Around the time the film was released Eastwood described himself as feeling “really depressed” and regards it as the lowest point in his career. He seriously considered quitting the acting profession and returning to school to start doing something with his life.
Floyd Simmons recommended that Eastwood sign with his agent Bill Shiffrin, a hard man, noted for his work with other young, muscular actors. Shiffrin informed Clint that CBS were casting an hour-long Western series and urged him to attend the studio. There he met up with Sonia Chernus, a story editor now working for NBC and while conversing with her, an executive, Robert Sparks, spotted Eastwood in the canteen. The first thing he said was, “How tall are you exactly”? Clint replied, “6’4”. The executive invited him into his office and later arranged for a screen test with Charles Marquis Warren overlooking, in which Eastwood had to recite one of Henry Fonda’s monologues from the William Wellman western, The Ox-Bow Incident. A week later, Shiffrin rang Eastwood and informed him he had won the part of Rowdy Yates in Rawhide. He had successfully beaten competition such as Bing Russell and had got the break he had been looking for.
Filming began in Arizona in the summer of 1958. His rivalry onscreen with Eric Fleming’s character, Gil Favor, was reportedly initially echoed offscreen between the two actors. However, Eastwood has denied that the two ever had a scuffle and especially after Fleming’s death by drowning in Peru some years later, has revealed he had much respect for his co-star. The writer, Charles Marquis Warren, however, described Eastwood’s co-star as, “a miserable human being, not only a lousy performer but a colossal egotist”. Although Eastwood was finally pleased with the direction of his career, he was not especially happy with the nature of his Rowdy Yates character. At this time, Eastwood was 30, and Rowdy was too young and too cloddish for Clint to feel comfortable with the part. Although boyishness was a key element in his casting, Eastwood disliked the juvenile overtones of the character and privately described Yates as “the idiot of the plains” According to co-star Paul Brinegar, who played Wishbone, Eastwood was, “very unhappy about playing a teenager type”.
Eastwood soon ended his contract with Bill Shiffrin and hired Lester Salkow as his talent agent between 1961 and 1963. In regards to his contracts though, it was Irving Leonard and the attorney Frank Wells who played an important role. They structured Eastwood’s earnings, (now at $750 per episode) to avoid paying undue taxes and guaranteed the paychecks from CBS well into the future. Leonard in particular tightly controlled his finances to the extent that when he wanted to buy a car he had to request permission. He and Maggie continued to live inexpensively but bought a home in Sherman Oaks off Beverly Glen, a modest hillside ranch. His first interview with TV Guide for Rawhide came in August 1959 in which they concentrated on his physical fitness, taking photographs of him doing pushups at home as Eastwood advised readers to keep in shape, warned against carbohydrates and recommended skipping beverages loaded with sugar and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and vitamins.
It took just three weeks for Rawhide to reach the top 20 in the TV ratings and soon rescheduled the timeslot half an hour earlier from 7.30 -8.30 pm every Friday, guaranteeing more of a family audience. For several years it was a major success, and reached its peak as number 6 in the ratings between October 1960 and April 1961. However, success was not without its price. The Rawhide years were undoubtedly the most gruelling of his life, and at first, from July until April, they filmed six days a week for an average of twelve hours a day. Although it never won Emmy stature, Rawhide earned critical acclaim and won the American Heritage Award as the best Western series on TV and it was nominated several times for best episode by the Writer’s and Director’s Guilds. However, the quality of the storylines in each episode ranged dramatically from the brutal and subjects such as gypsy curses to predictable, silly comedy. Eastwood during this period received some criticism and was considered too laidback by some directors who believed he relied on his looks and just didn’t work hard enough. Gene Fowler Jr. described Clint as “lackadaisical” in his attitude, whilst one of the series’ most prolific crewmen, Tommy Carr described him as, “lazy, and would cost you a morning. I never started a day with Clint Eastwood in the first scene, because you knew he was gonna be late, at least a half hour or an hour.” Laziness, ironically, would later work in his favor and attract the attention of Italian director Sergio Leone and launch Eastwood’s successful career in film. Karen Sharpe, an actress, explained the laziness might have been because of his womanizing and would often disappear into his trailer with a lady friend (despite being married) and after having sex, he’d be too tired to do his afternoon scenes. Although Eastwood did demonstrate growing abilities as an actor, developing on ability to demonstrate surprising authority and balancing humor with emotional nuance, he was not much noticed for his acting abilities at the time.
Despite his busy schedule, soon after singing A Drover’s Life on Rawhide and later Beyond the Sun, Eastwood would have a strong desire to pursue his major passion, music. Although jazz was his main interest, he was also a country and western enthusiast. He went into the studio and by late 1959 had produced the album Cowboy Favorites which was released on the Cameo label. The album included some classics such as Bob Wills’s San Antonio Rose and Cole Porter’s Don’t Fence Me In and despite his attempts to plug the album by going on a tour, it never reached the Billboard Hot 100. Later in 1963, Cameo producer Kal Mann would bluntly tell him that “he would never make it big as a singer”. Neverless, during the off season of filming Rawhide, Eastwood and Brinegar, sometimes joined by Sheb Wooley would go on touring rodeos, state fairs and festivals and in 1962 their act entitled Amusement Business Cavalcade of Fairs earned them as much as $15,000 a performance. Brinegar also accompanied Eastwood on his first trip outside the country in early 1962 to Japan to increase their publicity, leaving his wife at home.
By the third season of Rawhide, the Hollywood press began to speculate on Eastwood tiring of the series and that he was anxious to move on. A July 1961 article by Hank Grant in the Hollywood Reporter described him as , “Calm on the outside and boiling on the inside” and played upon Eastwood’s apparent frustration that he hadn’t been able to accept a single feature since joing the CBS series because of his contract, and he had said, “Maybe they really figure me as the sheepish, nice guy I portray in the series, but even a worm has to turn sometime.” Eastwood did, however, make several guest appearance in the meantime on TV, including a cameo in Mr Ed poking fun at himself as a neighbor of Mr. Ed in an episode directed by his old mentor Arthur Lubin and the western comedy series Maverick, in which he fought James Garner in the “Duel at Sundown” episode. Although Rawhide continued to attract notable actors such as Lon Chaney Jr, Mary Astor , Ralph Bellamy, Burgess Meredith, Dean Martin and Barbara Stanwyck, by late 1963 Rawhide was beginning to decline in popularity and lacked freshness in the script. In regards to the character of Rowdy Yates, he had evolved to upstage that of Gil Favor and became increasingly tough like him, not a trait in which his character had began. Rawhide would last until 1966, but a change of direction in Eastwood’s career would occur in late 1963.
1964–1969: Emergence of a Western film icon
A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
In late 1963, an offer was made to Eastwood’s co-star Eric Fleming on Rawhide to star in an Italian made western, originally to be named The Magnificent Stranger (A Fistful of Dollars) to be directed in a remote region of Spain by a relative unknown at the time, Sergio Leone. However, the money was not much, and Fleming always set his sights high on Hollywood stardom, and rejected the offer immediately. A variety of actors, including Charles Bronson, Steve Reeves, Richard Harrison, Frank Wolfe, Henry Fonda, James Coburn and Ty Hardin were considered for the main part in the film, and the producers established a list of lesser-known American actors, and asked the aforementioned Richard Harrison for advice. Harrison had suggested Clint Eastwood, whom he knew could play a cowboy convincingly. Harrison later said: “Maybe my greatest contribution to cinema was not doing Fistful of Dollars, and recommending Clint for the part”.
Leone had watched Rawhide upon the advice of Claudia Sartori, an agent working at the William Morris Agency in Rome, and he watched Episode 91, Incident of the Black Sheep, dubbed into Italian. Leone was intended to focus on Fleming but found himself entirely distracted in looking at Eastwood. Leone said, “What fascinated me about Clint, above all, was his external appearance. I noticed the lazy, laidback way he just came on and stole every single scene from Fleming. His laziness is what came over so clearly.” However, Leone’s claim that he was entirely distracted by watching Eastwood is somewhat contradicted by the fact he was urged by Sartori to rewatch the episode after Fleming turned down the part and to concentrate on Eastwood.
Through Irving Leonard, the offer was made to Eastwood. However, Ruth Marsh of the Marsh Agency that had supported Clint since the 1950s and his wife Maggie conspired to manoeuvre past Leonard, when he had refused the funds to provide a reel of Eastwood in Rawhide to the Italian producers. They sent a reel to Jolly Film and the agent Filippo Fortini who she had agency contacts with via actor Philippe Hersent , who was the husband of writer Geneviève Hersent and the Italian intermediary of the Marsh Agency. Eastwood initially thought the same as Fleming had, after all he was already in a Western and tired of it, and wanted to take months off playing golf and relaxing. However he was urged to read the script; a lone stranger rides into a Mexican frontier town controlled and fought over by two gangs and double-crosses them by playing them off against each other whilst accepting money from both sides. After just ten pages, Eastwood recognised that it was based on Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Eastwood had initially described the dialogue as “atrocious” but thought the storyline was an intelligent one. Seeing potential, Irving Leonard cut Fortini out of the deal, so that the William Morris Agency would receive credit. The agreement offered Clint $15,000, an air ticket and paid expenses for 11 weeks of filming. Eastwood saw it as an opportunity to escape Rawhide and the states and saw it as a paid vacation and signed the contract which also threw in a bonus of a Mercedes automobile upon completion.
Never meeting Leone in advance, Eastwood arrived in Rome in May 1964 and was met by the Marsh agency contact there, writer Geneviève Hersent rather than Fortini, Leone’s assistants and a few journalists. Eastwood met Leone later that day upon which he had shown disaste for his all-American style of dress but had been more impressed with meeting him in the flesh than seeing him on TV. Leone recollected, “Clint arrived, dressed with exactly the same bad taste as American students. I didn’t care. It was his face and his way of walking that I was interested in”. Eastwood was instrumental in creating the Man With No Name character’s distinctive visual style that would appear throughout the Dollars trilogy. He had brought with him the black jeans he had purchased from a shop on Hollywood Boulevard which he had bleached out and roughened up, the hat from a Santa Monica wardrobe firm, a leather bracelet and two Indian leather cases with two serpents, and the trademark black cigars came from a Beverly Hills shop, though Eastwood himself is a non-smoker and hated the smell of cigar smoke. Leone decided to use them in the film and heavily emphasised the “look” of the mysterious stranger to appear in the film. Leone commented, “The truth is that I needed a mask more than an actor, and Eastwood at the time only had two facial expressions: one with the hat, and one without it”. Eastwood said about playing the Man With No Name character in the film,
“I wanted to play it with an economy of words and create this whole feeling through attitude and movement. It was just the kind of character I had envisioned for a long time, keep to the mystery and allude to what happened in the past. It came about after the frustration of doing Rawhide for so long. I felt the less he said the stronger he became and the more he grew in the imagination of the audience.
The first interiors for the film were shot at the Cinecittà studio on the outskirts of Rome, before quickly moving to a small village in Andalucia, Spain in an area which had also been used for filming Lawrence of Arabia (1962) just a few years earlier. This would become a benchmark in the development of the spaghetti westerns, and Leone would successfully create a new icon of a western hero, depicting a more lawless and desolate world than in traditional westerns. The trilogy would also redefine the stereotypical American image of a western hero and cowboy, creating a character gunslinger and bounty hunter which was more of an anti hero than a hero and with a distinct moral ambiguity, unlike traditional heroes of western cinema in the United States such as John Wayne.
Since the film was an Italian/German/Spanish co-production, there was a major language barrier on the set. Eastwood communicated with the Italian cast and crew mostly through stuntman Benito Stefanelli, who acted as an interpreter for the production. The cast and crew stayed on location in Spain for nearly eleven weeks, during which Eastwood’s wife Maggie came over for a visit and found time to take a break in Toledo, Segovia and Madrid and regularly read Time magazine.
Promoting A Fistful of Dollars was difficult given that no major distributor wanted to take chance on a faux-Western and an unknown director and the film ended up being released in September which is typically the worst month for sales. The film was shunned by the Italian critics who gave it extremely negative reviews. However, at a grassroots level its popularity spread and would end up grossing $4 million in Italy, about three billion lire and American critics felt quite differently to their Italian counterparts, with Variety praising it as, “a James Bondian vigor and tongue-in-cheek approach that was sure to capture both sophisticates and average cinema patrons”. The release of the film was delayed in the United States because distributors feared being sued by Kurosawa, and as a result it was not shown in American cinemas until 1967. This made it difficult for the American public or other people in Hollywood to understand what was happening to Clint in Italy at the time and for an American actor making films in Italy it was met with considerable prejudice and seen in Hollywood as taking a step backward rather than a career development.
For a Few Dollars More (1965)
Leone hired Eastwood to star in his second film of what would become a trilogy, For a Few Dollars More (1965). Leone was convinced that Jolly Film were withholding his share of the profits and sued them and joined forces with producer Alberto Grimaldi who founded the Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA) film company. The company gave Leone a larger $350,000 budget to make the next film. Screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni was brought in to write the script which he wrote in nine days; two bounty hunters (Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef) pursuing a drug-addicted criminal (Volontè), planning to rob an impregnable bank. Eastwood was given $50,000 in advance and a first-class plane ticket but was not looking forward to having the cigar in his mouth again which at times made him feel sick during the first film. For a Few Dollars More was shot in the spring and summer of 1965 and again interiors of the film were shot at the Cinecittà studio in Rome before they moved to Spain again. During the filming Eastwood became close friends with screenwriter Vincenzoni and enjoyed his Italian cooking and attracted a lot of attention from his female guests. Vincenzoni was very important in bringing the films to the states, given that he was fluent in English and accompanied Leone to a cinema in Rome to show the new film after completion to United Artist executives Arthur Krim and Arnold Picker. He made an agreement with them, who showed much excitement by the film, and sold the rights to the film and the third film (which was yet to be written let alone made) in advance in the states for $900,000, advancing $500,000 up front and the right to half of the profits.
As trouble brewed with Rawhide back in the United States as Eric Fleming quit the series (which lasted just thirteen more episodes without him) and faced increasing competition from the new World War II series Combat which eventually led to the demise of the series in January 1966, Eastwood met with producer Dino De Laurentiis in New York City and agreed to star in a non-Western five-part anthology production named Le Streghe or The Witches opposite his wife, actress Silvana Mangano. Eastwood travelled to Rome in late February 1966 and accepted the fee of $20,000 and a new Ferrari. Acclaimed director Vittorio De Sica was hired to direct Eastwood’s segment, called A Night Like Any Other, which is only nineteen minutes long and involves Clint playing a lazy husband stuck in a stale marriage who refuses to go and see A Fistful of Dollars in the cinema with his wife and would rather stay home. Meanwhile his wife dreams of having a fit, active husband who dances like Fred Astaire and is fantastic at making love. Eastwood’s installment only took a few days to shoot and was not met well with critics, who described it as “no other performance of his is quite so ‘un-Clintlike’ “, with the New York Times disparaging it as a “throwaway De Sica”. Following this, Eastwood went to Paris to promote the premiere of A Few Dollars More with De Sica and was already becoming very popular in France and labelled as the “new Gary Cooper”. In Paris he met Pierre Rissient and had an affair with Catherine Deneuve, a blond actress known for her nouvelle vague films.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Two months later Eastwood began working on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the final film of the Dollars trilogy, in which he again played the mysterious Man With No Name character. Lee Van Cleef was brought in again to play a ruthless fortune seeker, while Eli Wallach, a character actor noted for his appearance in The Magnificent Seven (1960), was hired to play the cunning Mexican bandit “Tuco”, although the role was originally written for Volontè, who passed working with Leone again. The three become involved in a search for a buried cache of confederate gold buried in a cemetery by a man named Bill Carson. Eastwood was not initially pleased with the script and was concerned he might by upstaged by Wallach, and said to Leone, “In the first film I was alone. In the second, we were two. Here we are three. If it goes on this way, in the next one I will be starring with the American cavalry”. As Eastwood played hard-to-get in accepting the role (inflating his earnings up to $250,000, another Ferrari and 10% of the profits in the United States when eventually released there), Eastwood was again encountering publicist disputes between Ruth Marsh, who urged him to accept the third film of the trilogy, and the William Morris Agency and Irving Leonard, who were unhappy with Marsh’s influence on Clint. Eastwood banished Marsh from having any further influence in his career and he was forced to sack her as his business manager via a letter sent by Frank Wells. For some time after, Eastwood’s publicity was handled by Jerry Pam of Gutman and Pam.
Filming began at the Cinecittà studio in Rome again in mid-May 1966, including the opening scene between Clint and Wallach when The Man With No Name captures Tuco for the first time and sends him to jail. The production then moved on to Spain’s plateau region near Burgos in the north, which would double for the extreme deep south of the United States, and again shot the western scenes in Almeria in the south. This time the production required more elaborate sets, including a town under cannon fire, an extensive prison camp and an American Civil War battlefield; and for the climax, several hundred Spanish soldiers were employed to build a cemetery with several thousand grave stones to resemble an ancient Roman circus. Top Italian cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli was brought in the shoot the film and was prompted by Leone to pay more attention to light than in the previous two films; Ennio Morricone composed the score once again. Leone was instrumental in asking Morricone to compose a track for the final Mexican stand-off scene in the cemetery, asking him to compose what felt like “the corpses were laughing from inside their tombs”, and asked Delli Colli to creating a hypnotic whirling effect interspersed with dramatic extreme close ups, to give the audience the impression of a visual ballet.
Wallach and Eastwood flew to Madrid together and between shooting scenes, Eastwood would relax and practice his golf swing. One day, during the filming of the scene in which the bridge is blown up with dynamite, Eastwood, suspicious of explosives, urged his co-star Wallach to retreat up to the hilltop, saying, “I know about these things. Stay as far away from special effects and explosives as you can”. Just minutes later, crew confusion over saying “Vaya!” which was meant to be the signal for the explosion but that a crew member had said without thinking to turn the cameras on, resulted in a premature explosion, resulting in the bridge having to be rebuilt. This and other expenses resulted in the cost of making the film exceed the budget many times over, and exceeded the value that they who had bought Leone’s films for at $1,300,000.
By the end of the film Eastwood had finally had enough of Leone’s perfectionist directorial traits, who, often forcefully, insisted on shooting scenes from many different angles, paying attention to the most minute of details; which would often exhaust the actors. Leone, a glutton, was also a source of amusement for his excesses, and Eastwood found a way to deal with the stresses of being directed by him by making jokes about him and nicknamed him “Yosemite Sam” for his bad temperament. Eastwood would never be directed by Leone again, later turning down the role as Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) in which Leone had personally flown to Los Angeles to give him the script for, which eventually went to Charles Bronson. Years later, Leone would exact his revenge upon Clint during the filming of Once Upon a Time in America (1984) when he described Eastwood’s abilities as an actor as being like a block of marble or wax and inferior to the acting abilities of Robert De Niro, saying, “Eastwood moves like a sleepwalker between explosions and hails of bullets, and he is always the same – a block of marble. Bobby first of all is an actor, Clint first of all is a star. Bobby suffers, Clint yawns.”
The Dollars trilogy was not shown in the United States until 1967. A Fistful of Dollars opened in January, For a Few Dollars More in May and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in December 1967. Some twenty minutes however were cut from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, particularly many of the scenes involving Lee Van Cleef, although Eastwood’s remained intact. The trilogy was publicised as James Bond -type entertainment and all films were successful in American cinemas and turned Eastwood into a major film star in 1967, particularly the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly which eventually collected $8 million in rental earnings. However, upon release, all three were generally given bad reviews by critics (despite the select few American critics who had seen the films in Italy previously having a positive outlook) and marked the beginning of Eastwood’s battle to win the respect of American film critics. Judith Crist described A Fistful of Dollars as “cheapjack” while Newsweek described For a Few Dollars More as “excruciatingly dopey”. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was similarly panned by most critics upon US release with Renata Adler of the New York Times describing it as “the most expensive, pious and repellent movie in the history of its peculiar genre”. Variety commented that it is “a curious amalgam of the visually striking, the dramatically feeble and the offensively sadistic”. However while Time highlighted the wooden acting, especially Eastwood’s, critics such as Vincent Canby and Bosley Crowther of the New York Times were highly praising of Eastwood’s coolness playing the tall, lone stranger; and Leone’s unique style of cinematography was widely acclaimed, even by some critics who disliked the acting.
Post-Dollars Trilogy: A new American film star (1967–1969)
Eastwood spent much of late 1966 and 1967 dubbing for the English-language version of the films and being interviewed, something which left him feeling angry and frustrated. Stardom brought more roles in the “tough guy” mold and Irving Leornard gave him a script to a new film, the American revisionist western Hang ‘Em High, across between Rawhide and Leone’s westerns, written by Mel Goldberg and produced by Leornard Freeman. However, the William Morris Agency had wanted him to star in a bigger picture, Mackenna’s Gold with a cast of notable actors such as Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif and Telly Savalas. Eastwood, however, did not approve and preferred the script for Hang ‘Em High but had one complaint which he voiced to the producers; the scene before the first hanging, where the hero is attacked by the enemies. Eastwood believed that the scene would not be suitable in a saloon and they eventually agreed to introduce a whore scene in which the attack takes place afterwards as Eastwood enters the bar. Eastwood signed for the film with a salary of $400,000 and 25% of the net earnings to the film, playing the character of Cooper, a man accused by vigilantes of a cow baron’s murder and lynched and left for dead and later seeks revenge.
With the wealth generated by the Dollars trilogy, Leonard helped set up a new production company for Eastwood, Malpaso Productions, something he had long yearned for and was named after a river on Eastwood’s property in Monterey County. Leonard became the company’s president and arranged for Hang ‘Em High to be a joint production with United Artists. Directors Robert Aldrich and John Strurges were considered for the director’s helm, but on the request of Eastwood, old friend Ted Post was brought in to direct, against the wishes of producer Leonard Freeman, who Eastwood had urged away. Post was important in casting for the film and arranged for Inger Stevens of The Farmer’s Daughter fame to play the role of Rachel Warren and had not heard of Eastwood or Sergio Leone at the time but instantly took a liking to Clint and accepted. Pat Hingle, Dennis Hopper, Ed Begley, Bruce Dern and James MacArthur were also cast and filming began in June 1967 in the Las Cruces area of New Mexico. Additional scenes were shot at White Sands and in the interiors were shot in MGM studios. Eastwood had considerable leeway in the production, especially in the script which was altered in parts such as the dialogue and setting of the barroom scene to his liking. The film became a major success after release in July 1968 and with an opening day revenue of $5,241 in Baltimore alone, it became the biggest United Artists opening in history, exceeding all of the James Bond films at that time.It debuted at number five on Variety’s weekly survey of top films and had made its money back within two weeks of screening. It was widely praised by critics including Arthur Winsten of the New York Post who described Hang ‘Em High as “A Western of quality, courage, danger and excitement”.
Meanwhile, before Hang ‘Em High had been released, Eastwood had set to work on Coogan’s Bluff, a project which saw him reunite with Universal Studios after an offer of $1 million, more than doubling his previous salary. Jennings Lang was responsible for the deal, a former agent of a director called Don Siegel, a Universal contract director who was invited to direct Eastwood’s second major American film. Eastwood was not familiar with Siegel’s work but Lang arranged for them to meet at Clint’s residence in Carmel. Eastwood had now seen three of Siegel’s earlier films and was impressed with his directing and the two became natural friends, forming a close partnership in the years that followed. The idea for Coogan’s Bluff originated in early 1967 as a TV series and the first draft was drawn up by Herman Miller and Jack Laird, screenwriters for Rawhide. It is about a charatcer called Sheriff Walt Coogan, a lonely deputy sheriff working in New York City.
After Siegel and Eastwood had agreed to work together, Howard Rodman and three other writers were hired to devise a new script as the new team scouted for locations including New York and the Mojave desert. However, Eastwood surprised the team one day by calling an abrupt meeting and professed to strongly disliked the script, which by now had gone through seven drafts, preferring Herman Miller’s original concept. This experience would also shape Eastwood’s distaste for redrafting scripts in his later career. Eastwood and Siegel decided to hire a new writer, Dean Riesner, who had written for Siegel in the Henry Fonda TV film Stranger on the Run some years previously. As Riesner drew up a new script, Eastwood was unwilling to communicate with the screenwriter until one day, Riesner criticized one of the scenes which Eastwood had liked which involved Coogan having sex with a girl called Linny Raven in the hope that she would take him to her boyfriend”. According to Riesner, Eastwood’s ” face went white and gave me one of those Clint looks”. The two soon reconciled their differences and worked on a script in which Eastwood had considerable input, while Don Stroud was cast as the psychopathic criminal Coogan is chasing, Lee J. Cobb as the disagreeable New York City Police Department lieutenant, Susan Clark as a probation officer who falls for Coogan and Tisha Sterling playing the drug addicted lover of Don Stroud’s character. Filming began in November 1967 even before the full script had been finalized. The film was controversial for its portrayal of violence, but it had launched a collaboration between Eastwood and Siegel that lasted more than ten years, and set the prototype for the macho hero that Eastwood would play in the Dirty Harry films.
Three of Eastwood’s films in the 1980s featured his real-life children. His son Kyle starred as his nephew in Honkytonk Man (1982). His daughter Alison had a small role as an orphan in Bronco Billy, and a much bigger role as his daughter in the provocative thriller Tightrope (1984), in which Eastwood starred as a single-father cop lured by the promise of kinky sex.
Eastwood starred in the period comedy City Heat (1984) with Burt Reynolds and the military drama Heartbreak Ridge (1986). He revisited the western genre directing and starring in Pale Rider (1985), an homage to the western film classic Shane, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.
Eastwood’s fifth and final Dirty Harry film, The Dead Pool (1988), was a commercial success, but was generally panned by critics. It co-starred Liam Neeson, Patricia Clarkson, and a young Jim Carrey, who later appeared with Eastwood in the poorly received comedy Pink Cadillac (1989) alongside Bernadette Peters and Eastwood’s future girlfriend Frances Fisher, with whom he has since appeared in two more films. Also during this time, he began working on smaller, more personal projects, first directing Bird (1988), a biopic starring Forest Whitaker as jazz musician Charlie “Bird” Parker, a genre of music that Eastwood has always been personally interested in. Eastwood received two Golden Globes—the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his lifelong contribution and the Best Director award for Bird, which also earned him a Golden Palm nomination at the Cannes Film Festival.
In 1990, Eastwood directed and co-starred with Charlie Sheen in The Rookie, a cop action film featuring Raul Julia and Sonia Braga as villains. That same year he starred as a character closely based on the legendary film-maker John Huston in White Hunter, Black Heart, an adaptation of Peter Viertel’s roman à clef about the making of the classic The African Queen. The latter received some critical attention but only a limited release. Overall, neither film was well-received.
Eastwood rose to prominence yet again in the early 1990s. He revisited the western genre in the self-directed 1992 film, Unforgiven, taking on the role of an aging ex-gunfighter long past his prime. The film, also starring such esteemed actors as Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris, laid the groundwork for such later westerns as Deadwood by re-envisioning established genre conventions in a more ambiguous and unromantic light. A great success both in terms of box office and critical acclaim, it was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Eastwood and Best Original Screenplay for David Webb Peoples. It won four, including Best Picture and Best Director for Eastwood. As of 2009, Unforgiven is the last western film that Eastwood has made.
In 1993, Eastwood played Frank Horrigan, a guilt-ridden Secret Service agent in the thriller In the Line of Fire, co-starring John Malkovich and Rene Russo and directed by Wolfgang Petersen. As of 2009 it is his last acting role in a film he did not direct himself. This film was a blockbuster and among the top 10 box-office performers in that year. That same year Eastwood directed and starred with Kevin Costner in A Perfect World. In 1995, Eastwood received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the Academy Awards. He continued to expand his repertoire by playing opposite Meryl Streep in the love story The Bridges of Madison County (1995). Based on a best-selling novel, it was also a hit at the box-office and grossed $182 million. The film, which Eastwood also produced and directed, was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama as well as an Oscar.
Afterward, Eastwood turned to more directing work, including Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), which starred John Cusack, Kevin Spacey and Jude Law as well as Eastwood’s daughter Alison and former frequent costar Geoffrey Lewis. That same year, he starred in the successful political thriller Absolute Power with Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Scott Glenn, and Dennis Haysbert. His next film was the badly received drama True Crime (1999), featuring his wife Dina and one of his daughters.
In 2000, Eastwood directed and starred in Space Cowboys, which also starred Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner. In the film, he plays Frank Corvin, a retired NASA engineer called upon to save a dying Russian satellite. The film was also one of the year’s commercial hits. In 2002, Eastwood played an ex-FBI agent on the track of a sadistic killer in Blood Work, which was derived from a book by Michael Connelly. In 2003, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild and directed the crime drama Mystic River about murder, vigilantism, and sexual abuse starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins and Lawrence Fishburne. The film was a commercial success and won two Academy Awards, as well as nominations for Best Director and Best Picture.
Eastwood registered as a Republican in order to vote for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and he supported Richard Nixon’s 1968 and 1972 presidential campaigns, but later criticized Nixon’s morality during Watergate (see the February 1974 edition of Playboy). He usually describes himself as a libertarian in interviews, fiscally conservative yet socially liberal. At times, he has supported Democrats in California, such as the liberal and environmentally-concerned Representative Sam Farr in 2002. Indeed, Eastwood contributed $1,000 to Farr’s successful re-election campaign that year and on May 23, 2003, the iconic actor-director hosted a $5,000-per-ticket fundraiser for California’s Democratic governor, Gray Davis. Later that year, Eastwood offered to film a commercial in support of California’s embattled governor, while in 2001, the star visited Davis’ office to support an alternative energy bill written by another Democrat, California State Assemblyman Fred Keeley.
In general, Eastwood has favored less governmental interference in both the private economy and the private lives of individuals. He has disapproved of a reliance on welfare, instead feeling that government should help citizens make something of themselves via education and incentive. He has, however, approved of unemployment insurance, bail-outs for homeowners saddled with unaffordable mortgages, a continued American automobile industry, electric and hybrid cars, free prescription drugs, government-ordained educational standards, environmental conservation, land preservation, alternative energy, and moderate gun control measures such as California’s Brady Bill. A longtime liberal on civil rights, Eastwood has stated that he has always been pro-choice on abortion (see the March 1997 edition of Playboy). He has also endorsed the notion of marriage equality (i.e. allowing gays to marry), just as he had once contributed to groups supporting the Equal Rights Amendment for women. Eastwood disapproved of America’s wars in Korea (1950–1953), Vietnam (1964–1973), and Iraq (2003–present), believing that the U.S. should not be overly militaristic or playing the role of global policeman. In all, he considers himself too individualistic to be either right-wing or left-wing, having sometimes described himself as a “political nothing” and a “moderate” (see the February 1974 edition of Playboy). Eastwood has also stated that he doesn’t see himself as conservative, but that he isn’t “ultra-leftist,” either.
Eastwood made one successful foray into elected politics, becoming the Mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California (population 4,000), a wealthy small town and artist community on the Monterey Peninsula, for one term. During his tenure, he completed Heartbreak Ridge and Bird.
In 2001, he was appointed to the California State Park and Recreation Commission by Democratic Governor Gray Davis. He was reappointed in 2004 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom he supported in the elections of 2003 and 2006 (although Eastwood disapproved of the recall of Davis in 2003). Soon afterwards Governor Schwarzenegger announced a proposal to close 80 percent of California State Parks.
Eastwood, the vice chairman of the commission, and commission chairman, Bobby Shriver, Schwarzenegger’s brother-in-law, led a California State Park and Recreation Commission panel in its unanimous opposition in 2005 to a six-lane, 16-mile (26 km), toll road that would cut through San Onofre State Beach, north of San Diego, and one of Southern California’s most cherished surfing beaches. Eastwood and Shriver also supported a 2006 lawsuit to block the toll road and urged the California Coastal Commission to reject the project, which it did in February 2008.
In March 2008, Eastwood and Shriver, whose terms had expired, were not reappointed. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) asked for a legislative investigation into the decision to not re-appoint Eastwood and Shriver, citing their opposition to the toll road extension. According to the NRDC and The New Republic, Eastwood and Shriver were not reappointed again in 2008 because both Eastwood and Shriver opposed the freeway extension of California State Route 241, that would cut through the San Onofre State Beach. This extension is likewise supported by Governor Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger’s press release appointing Alice Huffman and Lindy DeKoven to replace Eastwood and Shriver makes no mention of a reason for the commission change.
Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Eastwood (along with actor and director Danny DeVito, actor and director Bill Duke, producer Tom Werner and producer and director Lili Zanuck) to the California Film Commission in April 2004.
During the 2008 United States Presidential Election, Eastwood endorsed John McCain for President, citing the fact that he had known McCain since 1973. He donated $2,300 towards McCain’s campaign funds. Although sympathetic towards her bid for the presidency, Eastwood expressed disappointment with Hillary Clinton for engaging in a duck-hunting photo op, saying, “I was thinking: ‘The poor duck, what the hell did she do that for?’ I don’t go for hunting. I just don’t like killing creatures. Unless they’re trying to kill me. Then that would be fine.” Upon the election of Barack Obama, Eastwood stated “Obama is my president now and I am going to be wishing him the very best because it is what is best for all of us.”
Eastwood is one of two people to have been twice nominated for Best Actor and Best Director for the same film (Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby) the other being Warren Beatty (Heaven Can Wait and Reds). Along with Beatty, Robert Redford, Richard Attenborough, Kevin Costner, and Mel Gibson, he is one of the few directors best known as an actor to win an Academy Award for directing. On February 27, 2005, at age 74, he became one of only three living directors (along with Miloš Forman and Francis Ford Coppola) to have directed two Best Picture winners. He is also, at age 74, the oldest recipient of the Academy Award for Best Director.
Eastwood directed five actors in Academy Award–winning performances: Gene Hackman in Unforgiven, Tim Robbins & Sean Penn in Mystic River, and Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby.
Clint Eastwood received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1996 and received an honorary degree from AFI in 2009.
Eastwood has received numerous other awards, including an America Now TV Award as well as one of the 2000 Kennedy Center Honors. He received an honorary degree from University of the Pacific in 2006, and an honorary degree from University of Southern California in 2007. In 1995 he received the honorary Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in film producing. In 2006, he received a nomination for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Score Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for Million Dollar Baby. In 2007, Eastwood was the first recipient of the Jack Valenti Humanitarian Award, an annual award presented by the MPAA to individuals in the motion picture industry whose work has reached out positively and respectfully to the world. He received the award for his work on the 2006 films Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima.
On December 6, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Eastwood into the California Hall of Fame located at The California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.
In early 2007, Eastwood was presented with the highest civilian distinction in France, Légion d’honneur, at a ceremony in Paris. French President Jacques Chirac told Eastwood that he embodied “the best of Hollywood”.
On September 22, 2007, Eastwood was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music at the Monterey Jazz Festival, on which he serves as an active board member. Upon receiving the award he gave a speech, claiming, “It’s one of the great honors I’ll cherish in this lifetime.” He was also honored with the “Cinema for Peace Award 2007 for Most Valuable Movie of the Year” for “Flags of our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima.”
Eastwood received the 2008 Best Actor award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures for his performance in Gran Torino.
On April 29, 2009, the Japanese government announced that Eastwood was to receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, which represents the third highest of eight classes associated with this award.
On November 13, 2009, Clint Eastwood was made French Legion of Honor Commander, which represents the third highest of five classes associated with this award. He was previously made French Legion of Honor Knight in 2007.