Clint Eastwood (Clinton “Clint” Eastwood, Jr. born May 31, 1930) is an American film actor, director, producer, composer, and politician. Eastwood first came to prominence as a supporting cast member in the TV series Rawhide (1959–1966). He rose to fame for playing the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy of spaghetti westerns (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) during the late 1960s, and as Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry films (Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, and The Dead Pool) throughout the 1970s and 1980s. These roles, among others, have made him an enduring cultural icon of a certain type of masculinity.
For his work in the films Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), Eastwood won Academy Awards for Best Director and Producer of the Best Picture, as well as receiving nominations for Best Actor. These films in particular, as well as others including Play Misty for Me (1971), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Escape from Alcatraz (1979), Tightrope (1984), Pale Rider (1985), Heartbreak Ridge (1986), In the Line of Fire (1993), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), and Gran Torino (2008), have all received commercial success and critical acclaim. Eastwood’s only comedies have been Every Which Way but Loose (1978) and its sequel Any Which Way You Can (1980), which are his two most commercially successful films after adjustment for inflation.
In addition to directing many of his own star vehicles, Eastwood has also directed films in which he did not appear, such as Mystic River (2003) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), for which he received Academy Award nominations, and Changeling (2008). He has received considerable critical praise in France, including for several films which were not well received in the United States, and he has been awarded two of France’s highest honors: in 1994 he became a recipient of the French Republic’s Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and in 2007 he was awarded the Légion d’honneur medal. In 2000, he was awarded the Italian Venice Film Festival Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.
Since 1967, Eastwood has run his own production company, Malpaso, which has produced all except four of his American films. He also served as the nonpartisan mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California from 1986 to 1988. Eastwood has seven children by five different women, although he has only married twice.
According to the CBS press release for Rawhide, Universal Studios (then known as Universal-International) was shooting in Fort Ord when an assistant noticed Eastwood and arranged for him to meet the series’ director. According to Eastwood’s official biography, a man named Chuck Hill was instrumental in securing employment for Eastwood at Universal; Hill, who had contacts in Hollywood, managed to sneak Eastwood into one of Universal’s studios, where he showed him to cameraman Irving Glassberg. Glassberg arranged for Eastwood to have an audition with Arthur Lubin who, although impressed with Eastwood’s appearance and 6-foot-4-inch (1.93 m) frame, initially questioned his acting skills, remarking, “He was quite amateurish. He didn’t know which way to turn or which way to go or do anything”. Lubin suggested Eastwood attend drama classes, and arranged for his initial contract in April 1954 at $100 (US$855 in 2013 dollars) per week. After signing, Eastwood was criticized for his stiff manner, his squint, and for hissing his lines through his teeth, a feature that would become a lifelong trademark.
Eastwood’s first acting role was an uncredited bit part as a laboratory assistant in the 1955 film Revenge of the Creature.He then had uncredited bit parts in several other films, such as Lady Godiva of Coventry and Never Say Goodbye (1956), as well as a small speaking role in Francis in the Navy. In 1959, he made a guest appearance on Maverick, opposite James Garner, as a cowardly villain intent on marrying a rich girl for money. Eastwood had a small part as an aviator in the French picture Lafayette Escadrille and took on a featured role as an ex-Confederate renegade in Ambush at Cimarron Pass, a film which Eastwood viewed as disastrous and the lowest point of his career.
In a long sought-after break, Eastwood was cast in the supporting role of Rowdy Yates for the CBS hour-long western series Rawhide in the summer of 1958, although he was not especially happy with his role. Eastwood, who was 28, felt his character Rowdy was too young and cloddish for him to feel comfortable with the part. 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 it was a major success for several years, reaching its peak at number six in the ratings between October 1960 and April 1961. The Rawhide 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, yet some directors still criticized him for not working hard enough. By late 1963 Rawhide′s popularity had declined. Lacking freshness in the scripts, it was canceled in the middle of the 1965–66 television season. Eastwood made his first attempt at directing when he filmed several trailers for the show, although he was unable to convince producers to let him direct an episode. In the show’s first season Eastwood earned $750 (US$5,968 in 2013 dollars) an episode. At the time of Rawhide′s cancellation, he received $119,000 (US$866,928 in 2013 dollars) in compensation.