Clint Eastwood is the ever-shining star in the history of American motion pictures. He has achieved significant landmarks one after another in a career of more than sixty years.
But one fact that is often overlooked is that this prolific director-producer-actor was an out and out self-made man. He’s had his fair share of struggle and criticism in Hollywood.
Going through an account of his early life and career will give us a more vivid picture of the foundation of this extraordinary actor’s career.
Young Clint Eastwood: Pics And History
The legendary actor was born in San Francisco, California, on May 3, 1930. He grew up in a fairly ordinary household. Over the years, his family moved to different places as his father, Clinton Sr, changed his occupation several times. Eastwood came of mixed ancestry – his father was English, Scottish, and his mother Ruth was Irish.
After settling in Piedmont, California, Eastwood’s family led a well and prosperous lifestyle. His academic record was not very promising in Middle School. The rebellious part of his nature came out when he attended Piedmont High School. He got suspended for writing inappropriate suggestions on a field scoreboard and burning school property.
Young Clint Eastwood had a mishmash of multiple jobs, including lifeguard, paper carrier, grocery clerk, forest fighter, and golf caddy. He often mentioned enlisting in the US Army during the Korean war to take on the appearance of a war hero, while in reality, he was a lifeguard at Fort Ord all along, as recalled by his ex-wife Sondra Locke.
Young Clint Eastwood: His Career in the 1950s
Rawhide’s CBS press release stated that that Eastwood was spotted and invited by an assistant in Fort Ord when Universal International film company was shooting there. Although this statement slightly differs from Eastwood’s biographer Patrick McGilligan’s version.
After his first audition under Arthur Lubin, the director suggested he take acting lessons. Even though he had the hero-like physique, his acting skill was apparently very amateurish. However, Eastwood signed his first contract in April 1954, at a $100 per week payment. His lifelong trademark of delivering dialogues through his teeth was not well-received at that point.
Eastwood went through a series of unsuccessful auditions before signing for a minor role in Revenge of the Creature. After a few minor uncredited roles, in 1955, he got his first television role on NBC’s Allen in Movieland. But Universal terminated his contract that year for his unusually large adam’s apple.
In 1958, Eastwood played a significant role in the film Ambush at Cimarron Pass, which he considered as an unexciting phase in his career. Finally, he found his real shot as Rowdy Yates’ character in the series Rawhide that same year.
His Rawhide days were most hectic and exhausting, filming for hours, six days a week. Yet, he was criticized for lack of commitment and hard work. Eventually, Rawhide got canceled midway in the 1965-66 season.
Eastwood’s Career in the 1960s
In 1963, Eastwood was introduced to director Sergio Leone for the cowboy’s role in Fistful of Dollars. He found this transition from a TV western to films as a good escape route from the Rawhide episode. In this film, he had to smoke cigars to meet the demands of the character Man with No Name. This film’s success eventually helped him star in Leone’s next film in this trilogy, For a Few Dollars More.
When The Dollars Trilogy was released in the US in 1967, it was an instant hit. Eastwood made $8 million in rental earnings, and he achieved 5th place on Quigley’s Top Ten Money-Making Stars Poll. Although the movies were commercially successful, they were not critically acclaimed, which started Eastwood’s long journey to win American critics’ respect.
With his advisor Irving Leonard’s help, Eastwood started his own production company Malpaso Productions in California. In the meantime, he received a huge offer of $1 million to rejoin Universal Studios. He became friends with Universal director Don Siegel, which happened to be a long partnership. They produced five films together.
In 1968, Eastwood earned $750,000 for the World War II epic Where Eagles Dare, where he played the right-hand man of Richard Burton, the squad’s commander.
His last accomplishment in the 60s was the only musical of his career, Paint Your Wagon. Even though the film was not successful critically or commercially, it was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
Clint Eastwood: Young Pictures