For the last 60 years, Eastwood has romanced, inspired, and captured countless hearts across America. But there’s a side of Clint Eastwood that many haven’t seen.
Today, the 86-year-old actor is known for his conservative ways and healthy lifestyle, but Clint Eastwood’s childhood was full of heartache and chaos, and his journey to stardom wasn’t an easy one.
I’ve always loved Clint Eastwood, but after learning more about his humble beginnings, my love and respect for this rugged cowboy has only grown all the more.
Clinton “Clint” Eastwood Jr. was born on May 31, 1930, in San Francisco, California. Clint came from a very humble and impoverished background. His father, Clinton Eastwood Sr., was a steelworker and migrant worker, while his mother, Margaret Ruth (Runner) Eastwood, was a factory worker.
Weighing a whopping 11.59 lbs. at birth, nurses in the hospital nicknamed baby Clint “Samson” because a newborn that large was considered quite rare in the 1930s.
Growing up, Clint’s family moved often, as his father worked at different jobs along the West Coast to make ends meet. Finally, the family settled in Piedmont, California, where Eastwood attended Piedmont Junior High School.
Perhaps due to his chaotic upbringing, Clint was always getting into trouble and struggled through his studies — which meant the rambunctious youngster was sentenced to summer school almost every year.
Clint was naturally the athletic type, reaching his 6ft 4-inch frame by the time he was in high school. But despite Eastwood’s athletic talent and musical gift, he had no interest in joining the school’s athletic teams or band. Instead, the passionate youngster was focused on individual pursuits like tennis, piano, and golf.
As a teenager, Clint’s young love was for cars, jazz music, and girls; they were the focal points of his dreams at the time. His father managed to scrape together $25 to surprise Clint with his first car. And from that moment on, cars became even more of a priority than girls.
According to Eastwood, in his young mind the only thing that mattered was “fast cars and easy women.”
Just a few weeks before he was scheduled to enter Piedmont High School, reckless young Eastwood rode his bike through the school’s field after a rainstorm and tore up the wet turf, which resulted in the high school refusing his enrollment.
With nowhere else to turn, Eastwood attended Oakland Technical High School, where the drama teachers encouraged him to take part in school plays, but he wanted nothing to do with it, ironically admitting later that he was “far too shy to step foot on stage.”
Instead, Clint took auto mechanic courses and studied aircraft maintenance, rebuilding both aircraft and car engines. Eastwood also became a pianist and was very dedicated. According to a friend, he “would actually play the piano until his fingers were bleeding.”
By early 1949, Eastwood’s father moved to a plant in Seattle. In order to finish out high school in Oakland, Eastwood moved in with his friend, Harry Pendleton.
Desperate to support himself, Eastwood worked at a number of jobs, including working as a lifeguard, hay baler, paper carrier, grocery clerk, forest firefighter, golf caddy, and he also played ragtime piano at a small local bar.
Eventually, Eastwood rejoined his family in Seattle, where he worked at the Weyerhaeuser Company pulp mill in Springfield, Oregon with his father.
In hopes that a degree would grant him a better life, Eastwood enrolled at Seattle University in 1951. But in an unexpected twist of fate, Eastwood was drafted into the United States Army and was assigned to Fort Ord in California, where he was appointed as a lifeguard and swimming instructor.
To supplement his $67 a month salary, Eastwood held a very humble job working long hours in the hot sun on a loading dock for the Spreckles Sugar Refining Company.
While returning from a weekend visit to his parents in Seattle, Eastwood was aboard a Douglas AD-1 bomber when it suddenly ran out of fuel and tragically crashed into the ocean near Point Reyes. Eastwood escaped serious injury from the sinking aircraft and swam over 3 miles to the safety of shore.
Eastwood later reflected on his thoughts during the crash, “I thought I might die. But then I thought, other people have made it through these things before. I kept my eyes on the lights on shore and kept swimming.”
Over time, throughout his military service Eastwood came across several “signs” that would ultimately lead him to Hollywood. It was after his near-death experience in the U.S. Army – of all places – that Clint Eastwood would finally realize his destiny of becoming an actor.
It was during his service that Eastwood met TV actors stationed in Fort Ord, Martin Milner, David Janssen, and a man by the name of Chuck Hill — who had several contacts in Hollywood.
In the spring of 1952, Eastwood left Fort Ord and moved back to Seattle with his family to work as a lifeguard and save up some money. Instead of returning to university, Eastwood moved to Los Angeles to finally take a shot at stardom.
But Eastwood’s career didn’t take off overnight, in fact, for several years Eastwood earned a very humble living working as an apartment manager by day, and at a gas station by night.
Eventually, Eastwood reacquainted with his Army buddy, Chuck Hill, and with the help of an attractive telephone operator, managed to succeed in sneaking Eastwood into a Universal studio and showed him to cameraman Irving Glassberg.
Glassberg was immediately impressed with Eastwood’s appearance and stature and believed him to be, “the sort of good-looking young man that has traditionally done well in the movies”.
Eastwood made such an impression on Glassberg, that he promptly arranged for director Arthur Lubin to meet the young aspiring actor at the gas station where Eastwood was working in the evenings. Lubin, like Glassberg, was very impressed, remarking that Eastwood was “so tall and slim and very handsome looking.”
Lubin swiftly arranged for Eastwood’s first audition but was skeptical about Eastwood, saying, “He was quite amateurish. He didn’t know which way to turn or which way to go or do anything.”
Nevertheless, Glassberg 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.
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.
But throughout his drama schooling, Eastwood was criticized for his speech and awkward manner; he was soft-spoken and in performing in front of people was cold, stiff and uncomfortable. Eastwood didn’t appear to be a leading man. He lacked imagination and although he was quite the ladies’ man off screen, it didn’t appear to be so while practicing.
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.”
For several years, Eastwood continued to work menial jobs and took more acting classes. But his hard work took years to pay off as dozens of casting directors brutally rejected young Eastwood for his tendency to speak almost in a sibilant whisper. 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.
Eastwood struggled to make a living despite landing several parts in a few pilots and small films, but he refused to give up. During this period, Eastwood applied for assorted day jobs, continued taking acting classes, and began working out hard in the gym.
Throughout this time, 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.”
But despite his real-life stories of bravery, Eastwood struggled to display his toughness on screen. One night, when a gang of Latin thugs threatened Eastwood and his friends at gunpoint, Eastwood heroically defended them.
Although his friends turned to flee, Clint stood his ground and warned, “Go on and pull that trigger, you little son of a bitch, and I’ll kill you before I hit the ground” and the thugs ran off.
On another occasion, Clint and his friends were at a bar when 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 managed to punch Eastwood in the face, but Eastwood surprised them, and in turn — according to reports — put two men in the hospital and injured the others.
Six years after moving to Los Angeles in pursuit of his acting career, 28-year-old Clint Eastwood was informed about a casting call for “an hour-long Western series” that would prove to forever change his life.
One week after his screen-test, Eastwood finally received the call he’d been praying for: he had beat the tough competition (including Bing Russell – the father of actor Kurt Russell) and won the part of “Rowdy Yates” in theCBS show, Rawhide.
Rawhide portrayed the challenges faced by cattle drivers. True to his character’s name, Eastwood played “Rowdy Yates” the young cowboy who was often at times reckless and irresponsible. But despite his character’s immaturity, Eastwood’s strong and rugged countenance charmed countless hearts across America.
Filming began in the excruciating Arizona heat, the summer of 1958, but stardom came with a high price. TheRawhide years (1959–65) were some of the most grueling of Eastwood’s career. He often filmed for six days a week at an average of twelve hours a day, and was worked far past the point of exhaustion. But Eastwood persevered as his strong work ethic carried him through.
Rawhide premiered in January 1959 and after its release took only three weeks to reach the top 20 in the TV ratings. Although the series never won an Emmy, 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.
Eastwood’s first interview for Rawhide came in August 1959, which they concentrated on his physical fitness, taking photographs of fit-as-a-fiddle Eastwood doing pushups at home as he 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 — standards that he encourages and is passionate about to this day.
On July 21, 1970, Eastwood’s father tragically died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 64. The death, described by Fritz Manes as “the only bad thing that ever happened to him in his life,” came as a shock to Eastwood, as his grandfather had lived to be 92. Eastwood struggled to pick up the pieces, but was more motivated than ever to work diligently.
Although Eastwood had always been a health and fitness enthusiast, he became more so after his father’s death. He abstained from hard liquor, adopted a more rigorous health regime, and sought to stay fit.
After reaching unparalleled success with a total of 217 black-and-white episodes of Rawhide, Eastwood landed several major movie roles and continued to climb the ladder of success. In A Fistful of Dollars, Eastwood played the mysterious role of “The Man With No Name”.
When asked how he played the part of “The Man with No Name” Eastwood revealed, “In Rawhide I did get awfully tired of playing the conventional white hat. The hero who kisses old ladies and dogs and was kind to everybody. I decided it was time to be an anti-hero.
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.”
Eastwood continued to land major roles and has appeared in over 50 films — starring in 42 of them. Featured in a wide variety of genres from western, action, comedy, and drama films. Hang ‘Em High, Play Misty for Me, Dirty Harry, Escape from Alcatraz, Tightrope, The Bridges of Madison County, Unforgiven and Gran Torino are just a few of Eastwood’s iconic featured movie roles.
Eastwood also found additional success while sitting in the director’s chair. Directing in 1971 and in 1982, his debut as a producer began with two films, Firefox and Honkytonk Man.
Eastwood has received multiple awards and nominations for his work in the films Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby, among others. These awards include Academy Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and People’s Choice Awards.
According to several reports, projects Eastwood has acted in have grossed more than $1.71 billion domestically, with an average of $37 million per film. Eastwood’s latest project American Sniper was released on January 16, 2015. The film had the biggest opening weekend ever for a film released in the month of January.
When liberals slammed Eastwood for making American Sniper (a movie about the heroic fallen U.S. Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle) and threatened that it wouldn’t win any awards, Eastwood brilliantlyresponded, “Were not making the picture for awards.”
But this wasn’t the first time Eastwood has gone against the grain. In fact, Eastwood is commonly known as one of Hollywood’s most influential conservatives, and he never misses an opportunity to share his belief and speak truth.
When Hannity asked Eastwood why he’s so outspoken politically, Eastwood replied, “I just felt one day, we [referring to actors in Hollywood] never stepped up to do anything. And I thought, you know… we are kinda chicken, we’re sitting here going, ‘we’ll let somebody else do it.’ If it makes the right people angry, then good. Maybe it will wake them up!”
And Eastwood has done just that — on several occasions — as he fights to guard many of the same freedoms our nation’s Founding Fathers fought so hard to secure.
When Eastwood received a ton of negative media for proudly supporting our Second Amendment, the classy iconic actor responded, “I have a very strict gun control policy: if there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it.”
The liberal media was outraged at Eastwood’s empty-chair speech at the Republican National Convention in 2012, when the 85-year-old iconic legend used an empty chair to address an “invisible” President Obama who has failed to lead our country properly.
And just recently, the liberal media also disliked Clint Eastwood’s compliments of Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
“I think people are looking for somebody who is outspoken and who isn’t afraid. And he [Trump] seems to have kind of a fearless attitude.
He’s one of Hollywood’s wealthiest actors, but instead of blowing his money on dozens of cars and houses, Eastwood invests in his children and lives a very modest lifestyle in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Clint Eastwood is still considered one of America’s most famous movie stars, but the actor reveals it didn’t come without a price. Eastwood has always considered his family’s privacy his greatest priority — and that’s no easy feat with seven children.
A recent photo posted by his son, Scott Eastwood, sweetly read “Family dinner. 3 of my sisters and my brother. And who is that good looking guy? My pops. The man, the myth, the legend.”
Clint admits he isn’t perfect, and in retrospect, he acknowledges that he’s made a lot of mistakes. Eastwood is far from proud of the fact that he was a womanizer throughout his younger years — often turning to women for comfort and failing to stay faithful for very long due to a lack of self-esteem. But today, the proud papa and true family man encourages his children to learn from his mistakes and never let fame get to their heads.
Scott Eastwood shared, “He [his father, Clint Eastwood] didn’t care if I was a plumber or if I was an actor. He just said, ‘Whatever you do, do it well. Be humble, work hard and be a man.’”
And Clint Eastwood is determined to raise his children right. In the Eastwood home, there are no handouts, instead, each of Clint’s children were taught to work hard and earn their own money.
“My dad was pretty old school,” Scott Eastwood told PEOPLE. “I’ve had a job since I can remember and it’s not like he was like, ‘Hey, what kind of car do you want?’” he says with a laugh. “My first car was a ’91 Ford Crown Victoria that was $1,000. And I had to buy every car after that. I had to do it all.”
“Made me into a man!”: Scott Eastwood, 29, credited father Clint Eastwood, 85, for being the force behind his attempted maturity in a sweet throwback picture he shared on Instagram.
The 86-year-old has taken home five Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, and numerous other honors, but Clint Eastwood takes pride in his children — and it’s a beautiful sight to behold.
Clint Eastwood’s life boasts of what God can do when one man is willing work hard, honor his country, lead his family, and strive to make a difference. And there’s no doubt that Clint Eastwood’s life has inspired Americans of all ages.
While listening to Clint Eastwood’s inspiring story, I just couldn’t help but think of Peter 5:5-7, which reads,
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”
Thank you Clint Eastwood, for your unashamed faith and unwavering principles. Clint Eastwood will forever be one of the world’s most beloved actors. America needs more men in Hollywood like Clint Eastwood, please SHARE if you agree.