Clint Eastwood - The Sexual Cowboy
Daily Express 7th September 1992
CLINT EASTWOOD, sexual cowboy, makes no secret of it: "I became hooked on girls at an early age. American kids seem to start dating a lot earlier than English kids."
He has always been a ladies' man. In his early army days he would moonlight at other jobs to earn enough cash to take dates to drive-in movies.
He was an original Hollywood "hunk", a contract player who posed bare-chested for publicity pictures, with not one, but two girls.
Eastwood is a charmer. Like Warren Beatty, whatever he tells you seems like the truth. Today he is a Hollywood legend, one of the most consistent top attractions in the history of the movies — on the same level as Clark Gable, John Wayne and Paul Newman. , He has also had a remarkable second career as a Casanova. When he was elected mayor of his Californian hometown of Carmel in 1986, local businesses cashed in on having an international movie star as civic leader.
They sold Eastwood T-shirts and all manner of things linked to his name. One big seller was the Make My Night panties.
His love life has never been less than complex — and that included the 26 years he was married to Maggie Johnson Eastwood.
"Maggie doesn't chain me," was Eastwood's repeated reaction to the tales of the many ladies in his life. When she eventually left him in 1979, the wonder was that the relationship had lasted so long.
Clint had stretched it to breaking point well before he met a little blonde wisp of a thing called Sondra Locke in 1971. And she would finally end his marriage at a cost of over £10'million. Later still she would shatter his faith in "the loyalty of friends". But for eight years Maggie kept her private feelings concealed while Clint and Sondra became Hollywood's Odd Couple. "For years I was The Woman With No Name," said Maggie. "I was this big Hollywood star's wife, yet I never had an identity of my own. He had this thing about being a loner, like I didn't exist. He's a very complex person."
Throughout her long relationship with Clint, Locke remained married to sculptor Gordon Anderson, whom she wed in 1967. And to this day still is.
Locke is fragile, and deep-South born. This image suited their first film together, The Outlaw Josey Wales. "I played a pre-puberty tomboy and some producers thought I was a boy," she said, Eastwood was to change that image. In The Gauntlet, which followed Josey Wales in 1977, he dressed her in skin-tight jeans and an open top. She taunted a bunch of bad boy bikers: "Let's see what you've got between your legs." In the 1m she's a tough good-time girl helping Eastwood, the hard-drinking Arizona cop.
Clintwood and Locke became something of a contemporary Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. They made love together. They made films together.
It was a loving relationship . — a major commitment by such a high profile star as Eastwood. Maggie Eastwood did what was required and that was to support her husband in all his endeavours. It could not have been easy.
Eastwood and Locke sparkled on screen. Off the screen they did too. During the filming of The Gauntlet, the battle-of-the-sexes sparring some times overflowed off screen. Locke appeared with Eastwood in six films, including the Dirty Harry excursion Sudden Impact in 1983.
In an exclusive interview with her in the Bel-Air Hotel in Los Angeles, she talked about their lives together, and how they had masqueraded as man and wife from 1977. She is less forthcoming about their lives apart, now that many of the court papers have been locked away by the L.A. Superior Court. She said she always felt lucky in their relationship. People talked. It was part of the territory. She was married and sometimes went home to sleep with her husband. Clint was married. But they were a couple.
CLINT looks you straight in the eye when you ask about his relationship with Sondra Locke, but it is clear that after all these years his heart is not into explanations. It happened. Girls happen.
Even during his relationship with Locke, before the final bust-up, Clint never lost his reputation as a ladies' man. In public, at Hollywood functions or at the White House, it was Locke who was on his arm. But the sexual cowboy was still chatting up girls, especially at his English-style pub, the Hog's Breath in Carmel. Eastwood enjoyed the British pubs he visited with Richard Burton while filming Where Eagles Dare in the late Sixties. And when he opened his own bar-restaurant in Carmel, he gave it what he believed was a pub's name.
The Hog's Breath became an instant success. There were tourists and there were girls. Girls who looked as if they had walked out of the pages of Vogue or the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Today the female staff is still always gracious and always stunning. Eastwood is a good boss. Paul Lippman, a one-time part-owner with Clint, maintains the star was a romantic Casanova at the pub from the beginning.
He chatted up the girls, especially the blondes. "Clint liked small or slight women - - he called them squirts or shrimps or spinners."
According to Lippman it was lust at first sight. He said that when he and Eastwood double-dated they would talk about their girls the morning after.
Eastwood would say of his morning-after bedside manner: "We don't talk - - we watch cartoons."
Lippman says Eastwood liked unknown women whom he would not later accidentally meet. He maintains Eastwood had swift encounters, including one with a brunette "who taught him transcendental meditation".
Eastwood denies the "Dirty Clint" charge.
MAGGIE EASTWOOD recalls the young business student she met on a blind date in 1953. "Clint was only 23 and so good-looking, I couldn't resist him," she says.
"I was plain Maggie Johnson, a college student. We fell in love right away. We were married six months after we met." They went to live in a tiny one-room apartment in down-town Los Angeles. While he studied, she worked in an office and did some modelling.
Suddenly it all changed. He had been offered a screen test at Universal along with Rock Hudson, another aspiring actor hanging round the studios.
Clint got a job at 75 dollars a week playing small parts in even smaller films. He lasted 18 months — then he and Burt Reynolds, also at Universal, were fired on the same day by the same studio executive.
The man told Clint he had a chip on his tooth which should be fixed. Clint never did. He also said: "You speak too slowly — your Adam's apple sticks out too far." He told Reynolds he had no talent. So they both got out. Walking up the street, Reynolds turned to Clint: "You know, I can learn to act. But you're going to have a hell of a time getting that Adam's apple out of your throat."
But Maggie became his career mentor, pushing him forward for roles. Through a friend, she got him a break in Rawhide. For seven profitable years and 254 episodes, he kept the cattle moving — and looked the part on a horse. The TV series was a hit around the world.
But they waited 15 years after their marriage before their son, Kyle, was born in 1968. When asked the reason, he replies: "Planned parenthood." But people close to the couple believe Maggie had to fight to have her children. His daughter, Alison, was born in 1973.
But Clint had had an illegitimate daughter in 1964. It was a secret for more than a quarter of a century.
Clint was the star of Rawhide when he first met Roxanne Tunis, a stunning 28-year-old brunette and occasional actress. They acted like a couple on the set while his wife Maggie was back home in Carmel.
With Eastwood's help, Roxanne found more success as an actress — and became pregnant by him. He was a married star and in 1964 that was potential for scandal.
So it was decided Roxanne would have the child in secret and he would support them for the rest of their lives.
There would be no gossip. They have both kept to their bargain. Kimber Tunis has her father's face and there is also a family resemblance in her son — Eastwood's grandson — Clinton Eastwood Gaddie born in 1984. Kimber married a gardener Anthony Gaddie. They are now divorced.
Why he wanted to lock Sondra out of his life.
SONDRA LOCKE shared Eastwood's life on and off screen for many years. This is how she sums him up. "When you work with Clint you get caught up in his image. There's something so powerful about him and the fact that he runs his own show that it sets him apart from the rest of the business."
Although they were once Hollywood's hottest couple, when Sondra broke up with Clint the sparks flew.
One day in 1989 Sondra returned to the Beverly Hills home they shared for 13 years to find she was locked out...
Shortly after that the actress discovered she had breast cancer. But whatever sympathy Clint might have had, his interest was on the wane. It turned out to be an expensive encounter. Eastwood eventually agreed on a multi-million pound palimony settlement, which earned his former lover the dubious nickname of "Dirty Harriet".
Having lived and worked with Eastwood, Sondra knew him better than most.
"Clint's private — he's sort of secret. He just doesn't like to tell anybody what he's doing. It extends to a lot of his life, and I'm basically the same way," she says.
"Clint used me in The Gauntlet in which I played a very tough girl. I like dichotomies anyway, it intrigued me. I always liked the bad seed.
"It gives another dimension to the character to look one way and act another, so I loved the part. Pretty soon people said: 'Sondra Locke is tough, she's hard.'
"I opened an English publication, an encyclopedia of film actors the other day, and it said: 'American actress of the hard-boiled type.' I laughed and laughed. You can't win for losing.
"How do I see myself? Very confused. You have to project a certain image to get a certain career going. I've never done that. Except I've got this image as a sort of an extension of Clint.
"I love to work. I love acting and I love film-making, though I'm very bad at business.
"When I finish a movie I always think, 'This is the last one. I'll never work again'. I can remember that when I did The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter with Alan Arkin he said the same thing: 'Well, Sondra, every time I finish a job, I always think I'll never have another job.'"
It was that film which gave Tennessee-born Sondra her big break. Encouraged by her husband Gordon Anderson. "Gordon and I grew up together," she says. "We were like playmates as children."
She hooked up with Eastwood and went on to make half a dozen films with him, including Every Which Way But Loose.
"Clint was totally responsible for Sudden Impact, my sixth film with him. It was just a small story that caught his eye. He thought he'd produce it.
"Then the writer who did the final screenplay got the idea of making it into a Dirty Harry spin-off, a murder, suspense film.
"My two favourites are Josey Wales and Bronco Billy. I thought it was very brave of Clint to make Bronco Billy. It's not what his fans expected, yet a more sophisticated audience loved it.
"Orson Welles reckoned Josey Wales was one of the best directed films and that if Clint hadn't directed it, everyone would have called it a classic. But because Clint has a certain stigma that goes with being a star, he doesn't get the credit he deserves."
HOLLYWOOD stereotypes, she believes, have much to do with Eastwood's lack of serious recognition.
"He is simply associated with the macho superstar. That attitude makes me angry.
"But it's part of the game, like Steven Spielberg's comment when Jaws became such a big hit and was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, but he wasn't nominated for Best Director.
"He said: 'Well everyone loves a winner but nobody loves a winner.' That's true. I feel, frankly, that applies to Clint.
"He believes films are big efforts and does everything in them from start to finish. He picks the properties and the cast, produces, directs, stars and edits.
"For many years to come people will look at the films and say: 'Hey, that's wonderfully directed.' Play Misty For Me was superb suspense, which is one of the hardest things to accomplish. "We originally met when I was auditioning for a role in Breezy, which he didn't cast me in. I've always played younger. I was 17 when I did Heart and played a 14-year-old. I've said to him: 'How dare you not cast me in that film?' He says: 'Well, I just sensed there's a maturity about you. You could have acted the part but there was just a certain immaturity in this other actress that I thought better for the film.' "But I stuck in the back of his mind and along came Josey. I loved the story and the script.
"However, it cost me my eyebrows. We were sitting round a camp fire and in order to get the light we had to make the fire so enormous that when I had to stand by it during the scene, I singed my eyebrows."
This man is dangerous!
CLINT EASTWOOD has always been a lone wolf. And he has always lived dangerously. He almost lost his lire when, while working as a lumberjack in Oregon, he wandered into an unloading area and saw a nasty load of giant logs suspended over his head.
"I heard a shout, looked up and I don't think I've reacted faster in my life. As I started to run, down came the logs. Any one of them would have crushed the life out of me. I just barely jumped clear as they hit the ground," he recalls.
In a different era, the actor might have been a real cowboy and an adventurer. He is more comfortable with his size 10 trainers up against the fire in the Hog's Breath, the English style pub in ' Carmel, than at the White House chatting with presidents or meeting Prince Charles and Princess Diana, as he did in 1986.
Clint was a Depression baby, born in California on May 31 1930. His father Clinton senior had been a stockbroker, but when the Depression came he had to work as a petrol station attendant.
Eastwood is proud of his parents and especially of his father's work ethic. Clint is one of the world's richest movie stars, yet he's a workaholic — at one time averaging a film every 10 months.
In 1950, Clint had just turned 20 when he was called up to fight in the Korean war. Ironically, he was stationed near Carmel, where he would one day live and become mayor. Although he never got to Korea, Clint was nearly killed anyway — all because he was desperate to see his latest girlfriend in Seattle.
He scrounged a free seat on a naval reconnaissance plane flying north but there was nothing available when it was time to return.
"I had to fly to get to camp in time, or I'd be AWOL. But I had no money for a commercial air ticket," he recalls. "Finally I heard there was a naval torpedo bomber going as far as San Francisco. They didn't have any seats, of course."
THE pilot saw Clint was determined to get back so squeezed him into the radar compartment, a tiny cubbyhole with a small door.
"Everything that could go wrong with that trip went wrong. The compartment door sprang open and I nearly fell out. There was I, a mile up with no parachute and holding on for dear life. Eventually I yanked out a cable and got it looped round the door handle; that kept it mostly shut.
"Things got worse fast! As we climbed steadily I put on the oxygen mask but it wasn't working and I blacked out.
"When I came round about an hour later I could hear the pilot talking. He was telling the base he couldn't see anything because of fog and was going out to sea to get under the clouds.
"I couldn't understand why the pilot continued to fly over water. Only later did I learn that the guy knew he was out of fuel and might crash on the city before making the airport. "And then the engine went. You could hear the air whistling. The pilot had the flaps down and was going to ditch. And then we were bouncing and bouncing like a pebble skimming over water, and the ocean was shooting in all over the place. We stopped, nose down, tail in the air. I whipped off the cable holding the door and stepped out on to the back of the wings and the pilot landed beside me.
"I hit the water and started to get out fast, worried that when the plane started to sink it would suck me down with it. It was getting dark and there was a big swell and very soon I was separated from the pilot. "Then — almost the worst ordeal of all — I found myself surrounded by jellyfish. After all I'd been through I didn't feel like being stung to death, so I just clawed my way through.
"Close to the shore, I had to struggle desperately because of the fierce undertow. But inch by inch I made it."
More danger came with Clint's belief in never leaving it all to the stunt man — and it almost cost him his life while filming The Eiger Sanction. In the 1975 espionage film, where the thrills were in the mountaineering stunts, C rehearsed the Swiss location scenes by climbing rock faces at California's Yosemite National Park.
WITH him was Mike Hoover, a cinematograp-her-mountaineer who watched as Eastwood "flamed out" from the rock face and was dangling in space — unable to get to safety.
Clint looked at Hoover and said he didn't think he could make it and Hoover replied that there wasn't a lot of choice. Clint reacted characteristically — he got really angry.
"He pulled in his chin, he gritted his teeth and with just blood and guts, he moved his way up. It was gruesome to watch," says Hoover.
Worse was to happen during the movie's filming on the Eiger. British stuntman David Knowles, 27, was killed by a falling boulder, with Eastwood hanging from a rock face just a few yards away.
Hoover recalls: "Clint always seems very callous but inside he's mush. He was shaken by the accident and started to cry."
Eastwood said later: "I will never do anything like that again — it's just too dangerous. I had practised for weeks but it was still terrifying.
"I don't see how you can ever get used to dangling on a rope. And when a glacier moves with that awful groan, that's terrifying. One of the British guys said I'd get used to it. I never did."
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