Clint Eastwood: The Early Days

Clint Eastwood: The Early Days

Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. In recent years directed films such as Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and The Changeling. Actor, director and producer Clint Eastwood was born Clinton Eastwood Jr. on May 31, 1930, to Clinton Sr. and Ruth Eastwood, in San Francisco, California. He was a fairly large baby at 11.59 lbs (5 kilos and 261 grams). Eastwood has English, Scottish, Dutch, and Irish ancestry and was raised in a Protestant home with his older sister, Jean. After traveling and looking for work throughout California during the Depression, the family settled in Piedmont, California, where Eastwood attended Piedmont Junior High School. Shortly before entering Piedmont High School, he rode his bike on the school’s athletic field and tore up the wet turf; this resulted in him being asked not to enroll. He, instead, enrolled in Oakland Technical High School, where he was asked to take part in school plays, but he was not interested. He took auto mechanic courses and studied aircraft maintenance, rebuilding both car and aircraft engines.

Clint Eastwood as a baby.

Clint Eastwood as a baby.

Eastwood worked odd jobs around this time. He worked as a hay bailer, logger, truck driver, and steel furnace stoker. In 1950 Clint Eastwood was drafted by the United States Army Special Services and was assigned to Fort Ord in Monterey, California. While stationed there he was appointed as a lifeguard and swim instructor. To supplement his 67 dollar a month salary he worked part time on a loading dock for the Spreckles Sugar Refining Company. In October of 1951 while returning back to his station after visiting his parents, the military aircraft which Eastwood was on, crashed into the ocean north of Drake’s Bay near San Francisco. Eastwood escaped serious injury and was able to swim to shore with no help.

Eastwood has been married twice, but has had numerous relationships and fathered several children out of wedlock. He was married to Maggie Johnson between 1953 until 1980. They have two children together, Kyle (1968) and Alison (1972). While married to Johnson, he had a child by Roxanne Tunis; Kimber Eastwood (1964).

According to his official biography a man named Chuck Hill, who was also stationed at Fort Ord, had contacts in Hollywood. In Los Angeles, Chuck Hill was reacquainted with Eastwood in 1954, and managed to sneak Eastwood into Universal Studios and showed him to a cameraman named Irving Glassberg. Glassberg was impressed with his appearance and arranged for director Arthur Lubin to meet Eastwood at the gas station where he was working. At this time he was also attending Los Angeles City College to study business administration. Lubin was also impressed and arranged a screen test for Eastwood. A contract was signed with Universal for seventy five dollars a week. Eastwood dropped out of college to pursue his acting career.

Clint Eastwood's first film role.

Clint Eastwood’s first film role.

In May 1954, Eastwood did his first real audition for the film Six Bridges to Cross about the Brinks robbery. It would make the debut for actor Sal Mineo. Eastwood later tried out for Brigadoon, Bengal Brigade, and The Seven Year Itch in 1954. In late 1954 he auctioned for Sign of Pagan and Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops without success.  His first roles were science fiction B movies Revenge of the Creature and Tarantula in 1955. In September of 1955, Eastwood work for three weeks in the movie Lady Godiva of Coventry where he donned a medieval costume, and played “Jonesy” in another B movie Francis in the Navy. Eastwood also had a minor uncredited role in Never Say Goodbye and Stars in the Dust. Universal presented him with his first TV role on NBC’s Allen in Movieland starring Tony Curtis and musician Benny Goodman. Eventually Universal terminated his contract on October 25, 1955.

His first big break, indeed, came in 1959, with his rugged looks landed him in the long-running TV series, “Rawhide.” Playing the role of Rowdy Yates, he made the show his own that it became a household name around the country. Eastwood found bigger and better things in Italy when in 1964 Italian director Sergio Leone asked Eastwood to take part in his film direction entitled “A Fistful of Dollars“, which was turned down by James Coburn and Charles Bronson. It was soon followed by “For a Few Dollars More”(1965) and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966) – Costume can be found here. Eastwood became an instant international star and redefined the image of the traditional American cowboy.

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