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Clint Eastwood

Go ahead, make my day
Clint Eastwood (his real name) was born 5-31-30 in San Francisco. Growing up during the Great Depression, his father was always looking for work, mostly getting part-time jobs pumping gas all over the West. Clint rarely spent more than a semester in a school before they had to move on. Still, he managed to graduate high school and then worked various jobs as a logger, steel-furnace stoker, and even pumping gas himself before trying Hollywood in 1955. He became a small-time contract actor but was let go, along with Burt Reynolds, when their contracts expired. He was told that he would never make it in movies due to his Adam’s Apple, and Burt was told that he couldn’t act. Walking out of the studio lot, Burt says he told Clint that he could always take acting lessons but “you’ll never get rid of that Adam’s Apple.” Both played roles in 1950s TV like Rawhide and Gunsmoke. Burt is the grandson of a full-blooded Cherokee on his father’s side and often has played half-breeds, though he and Clint never made a western together.

Clint played Rowdy Yates, assistant to cattle-drive trail boss Gil (Eric Fleming) for the entire 1959-66 run of TV’s Rawhide. But when it was abruptly cancelled in January 1966, he headed back to Italy, where he had been starring in “Spaghetti Westerns” since 1964’s A Fistful Of Dollars for writer/director Sergio Leone. Though he continued making westerns, he’s also been in a number of successful WW2 movies (starting with a supporting role in the comedy Francis In The Navy, 1955.) His first major role in a western was “Ambush At Cimarron Pass” (1958) as a post-war cowboy who “flies into a white-hot rage whenever he hears the word Yankee.” In 1971, he made the first Dirty Harry movie as a cop willing to arrest any bad guys still alive after pulling a gun on him. The same year, he directed and starred in Play Misty For Me, about a local radio celebrity stalked by a lethal one-night-stand. He also directed one of his westerns, “High Plains Drifter” (1973) and then directed a CIA movie, “The Eiger Sanction” (1975.)

The following year, he directed himself in a western, “The Outlaw Josie Wales.” In 1995, he directed himself in the Bridges Of Madison County, featured on Monstervision as an example of a chick-flick, based on a novel by Robert James Walker that has even more treacle in it. Though it’s been years since the fifth Dirty Harry movie, The Dead Pool (1988), Eastwood says he might still make another Dirty Harry movie some day “Just to see what the old boy’s up to.” Clint Eastwood’s first screen appearances were bit part as a lab assistant in Revenge Of The Creature (1955 sequel to Creature From The Black Lagoon), and a bit part as one of the Air Force pilots attacking a giant mutant monster in “Tarantula” (1955.)

He hasn’t made any monster movies since, though he did star in a 1982 scifi movie, “Firefox,” as a veteran pilot sent to the Soviet Union to steal the world’s first hyper-sonic fighter plane. He is also in the movie “Space Cowboys” (2000) as one of a group of retired astronauts launched to deactivate an old Cold War satelite that turns out to be containing ICBMs. He is seen briefly in the fantasy Casper (1995), though I think Executive Producer Steven Spielberg just borrowed a clip from one of Clint’s other movies, so don’t count that one. In the third Back To The Future movie, Michael J. Fox uses the assumed name Clint Eastwood when a bad guy challenges him to a shoot-out in the street (note the sign at the end of the movie that the gulch is named after when a modern train crosses it). By the way, don’t rent Foxfire instead of Firefox from your local blockbusting video store; it’s a drama starring Jessica Tandy of Batteries Not Included fame, and not even husband Hume Cronyn showing up as a ghost will keep you awake.

Clint Eastwood
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