Tragic Details About Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood is a Hollywood legend with a long list of acting and directing credits attached to his name, including "Million Dollar Baby," "Dirty Harry," "American Sniper," "Letters from Iwo Jima," "Mystic River," and more. According to Biography, the star was born in 1930 in San Francisco, California. He worked a variety of jobs in his youth, was drafted into the U.S. Army, and briefly attended Los Angeles City College before he took up acting. Eastwood began to climb the ladder in the entertainment industry and gradually rose to prominence, achieving critical acclaim for many of his performances in films across different genres.

While Eastwood may appear to be a success story on the outside, he's had to endure a number of hardships in his life. For instance, his family life has been far from smooth, and he has often been widely misunderstood in the media. Here's a look at some of the most unpleasant details from Clint Eastwood's life.

He faced the uncertainties of the Great Depression as a child

Clint Eastwood was born to his parents, Clinton and Ruth Eastwood, in 1930 during the Great Depression. According to the book, "Clint Eastwood: Movin' on" by Peter Douglas, his family was financially sound but did have to confront difficulties during that period. Basically, the Eastwoods had to shift base several times, thanks to Clinton Sr. and his work demands. This meant that they had to adjust to an uncertain life for a large chunk of the actor's early years.

In fact, Eastwood later claimed to have gone to ten schools as a child, but he didn't complain too much. Eastwood later stated, "My father used to remind me that you don't get anything for nothing — and I never questioned that."

Additionally, Clinton Jr. was a shy kid who didn't easily open up with his peers, so we wasn't at all pleased when he was pressured into being part of a school play. He later recounted that although the experience freaked him out, the play did help him stop being so shy. 

He had a difficult time in school as a kid

Clint Eastwood, according to the book "Clint: the Life and Legend" by Patrick McGilligan, was simply not interested in academia, as his own father had been. Many called Clinton Sr. "kind of intellectually lazy." While Eastwood's father performed well as a football player, well enough to play for Berkeley, he didn't put his heart and soul in it. As told by his family friends, Clint Sr. didn't take the opportunity seriously and ended up defaulting in his first year of college. 

During his own childhood, Clint Jr.'s  grades weren't great, and he had to go to summer school to keep up. In fact, his performance was so poor that school officials decided to make him repeat a grade in a bid to help him improve. In high school, Eastwood, who was seen as a troublemaker, was asked to leave on account of "delinquent behaviour." Ruth Eastwood, his mother, said, "Clint not only wrote an obscene suggestion to a school official on the athletic field scorecard, but buried [sic] someone in effigy on the school lawn."

Eastwood had a scary experience in the Army

A young Clint Eastwood was in for a surprise when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War. At one point during his time in the Army, Eastwood was on a plane back to San Francisco with an Air Force pilot friend of his when the aircraft malfunctioned and ultimately crashed.

As Eastwood told The Hollywood Reporter, he nearly lost his life during the incident. He said, "What was going through my mind was just a stark fear, a stark terror, because [in the] first place, I didn't know anything about aviation at that particular time — I was just hopping a ride." 

After they made a water landing, Eastwood and the others had to swim to safety. It was a traumatic experience overall. He also revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that the place the plane went down was a known habitat for great white sharks. Luckily, Eastwood didn't find out until much later. As he said, "I'm glad I didn't know that at the time or I'd have just died."

Clint Eastwood faced rejection early in his career

Clint Eastwood wasn't always a star, and when he first started his journey in the entertainment industry, he had to fight hard to get parts in films. According to Goliath, his first role wasn't even credited. It was in a movie titled "Revenge of the Creature" (a sequel to "The Creature From the Black Lagoon"), in which Eastwood played an unassuming lab technician.

Eastwood took on more minor roles afterward, trying to stay afloat. At the same time, as highlighted by The Hollywood Reporter, the actor was juggling several odd jobs to get by and make a living for himself. He recalled, "I worked at a Texaco station right next to General Service Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard and I managed an apartment house that I was living in to get the rent knocked down."

On top of all that, he was booted by Universal Studios, which dropped his contract a year and a half after he started working for them. He described the incident to The Hollywood Reporter: "He's a total failure, they said. ... I mean they just didn't say much of anything. We can't use you," Eastwood recalled.

This was, of course, a major setback for Eastwood, who was trying his best to get more significant roles.

He dealt with anxiety when he first started working in the industry

For Clint Eastwood, being a part of Hollywood wasn't easy. His mental health suffered, and he experienced severe anxiety on set when he first started acting (via Showbiz Cheat Sheet). Eastwood has a particularly vivid memory of his first-ever role in 1955's "Revenge of the Creature."

His role wasn't crucial, but simply getting used to his dialogue and being confident were herculean tasks for the actor as he watched the film's director and producer argue over the line that Eastwood was supposed to utter. He said, "The director stood there and just chewed out, put me down something awful. And I was a nervous wreck anyway at the time. So that was my first experience and probably my last for a couple of months."

This wasn't Eastwood's only brush with anxiety. According to the book "Clint: The Life and Legend" by Patrick McGilligan, Eastwood experienced severe anxiety in the 1970s while dealing with a bronchial infection when he was working on the film "Joe Kidd." Things got so serious at one point that Clint felt like "he was dying" during those moments.

Losing his dad was traumatic for him

Clint Eastwood suffered a major setback when he lost his father to a heart attack in the 1970s. As per the book "Clint: The Life and Legend" by Patrick McGilligan, in July 1970, Clint Sr. had been getting ready for a game of golf but never came downstairs. Ruth checked on him and found him in his final moments. There was nothing that she could do to save her dying husband, who was just 64 years old at the time.

This was especially hard news to digest for the Eastwood family, as Eastwood's grandfather had been around until he was in his nineties. Clint changed in many ways after his father's death, taking his health a lot more seriously than he used to and staying dedicated to his nutrition and exercise regimen. 

Film producer Fritz Manes said that his father's death was a massive blow to Eastwood, who couldn't quite wrap his head around the incident. He reflected, "He couldn't understand this. It was a personal thing to him — something that had been done to him." He added that it took "a long time" for the actor to heal and accept his dad was gone.

Clint Eastwood has been misunderstood

As a public figure, Clint Eastwood has definitely not been spared when it comes to certain controversies. For instance, when he directed the film "American Sniper," he attracted a lot of criticism for what some viewers perceived to be a glorification of war (via CNN). 

Eastwood tried his best to defend his film in interviews, but his critics weren't necessarily convinced. The director stated that the film "certainly has nothing to do with any (political) parties or anything. These fellows who are professional soldiers, Navy personnel or what have you, go in for a certain reason." According to The Wrap, what was also greatly upsetting for audiences was witnessing what appeared to be a celebration of the extremist views of sharpshooter Chris Kyle, who was known for saying things like, "The enemy are savages and despicably evil." Kyle was the subject of "American Sniper" and was portrayed by Bradley Cooper in the movie.

Eastwood insisted that the film's vision wasn't interpreted correctly. He told The Guardian that he is against war himself and doesn't support violence. The actor said, "[War is] one of those things that should be done with a lot of thought, if it needs to be done. Self-protection is a very important thing for nations, but I just don't like to see it."

Eastwood is notorious for engaging in multiple affairs

Clint Eastwood has a notorious reputation for having engaged in multiple relationships throughout his life. According to The Independent, in the early 1960s, Eastwood was involved in an affair with a stuntwoman, Roxanne Tunis, who later gave birth to their daughter, Kimber. The actor has fathered a total of eight kids with different women over the years, per Closer Weekly.

As described by The Independent, Eastwood has often seemed incapable of maintaining stable relationships in his personal life. While he was with actor and director Sondra Locke, he was also married to his wife, Maggie, whom he'd been with for some 20 years. And before he broke up with Locke, he began seeing actor Frances Fisher. The pattern repeated itself when he dated Dina Ruiz while he was with Fisher. He has also been known to avoid opening up to those close to him, even some of his oldest buddies. Film producer Lili Zanuck said, "He is what you project on to him. The man you meet is that screen persona but with more depth. His whole value system is based on what the individual can do and overcome."

He witnessed tragedy while filming

According to a report by Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Clint Eastwood was forced to deal with a tragic event while filming one of his movies, 1975's "The Eiger Sanction." The crew had an accident while working on the film, and a mountain climber was killed. Another crew member survived but with serious injuries. It was a tough call to make, but Eastwood decided to resume filming at that point despite the difficult circumstances. When "The Eiger Sanction" was finally released in theaters, it received both positive and negative reviews.

As for the accident itself, here's what happened: Experienced mountain climber David Knowles was working as a stunt double in the film, and the crew needed a few extra shots for a sequence. Knowles decided to finish the job with another mountain climber, Mike Hoover. While the duo succeeded in getting the shots, they weren't prepared for what happened next. A boulder unexpectedly dislodged and hit them while they were standing on a ledge. Hoover sustained a fracture, and Knowles died from his injuries. One of the other climbers described the terrible scene: "We flew up to that same location and there was the scene that we had been faking for two days. Dave Knowles hanging dead on the end of the rope. ... It was unbelievable, fantasy and reality come head-on."

Eastwood was traumatized when he was told about the incident and almost cancelled the entire project. However, his team convinced him to finish the movie. 

His family life has been crazy

One of Clint Eastwood's daughters, Kimber, has mentioned that she felt neglected by her father. As per Patrick McGilligan's "Clint: The Life and Legend," though, Kimber has issued conflicting statements on how she felt about her father. When she was trying to be a part of the film industry herself, she told her famous dad about her plans, and he said that he'd think about casting her in a movie in the future. At one point, Kimber said that her father would meet her whenever he could and that they shared a strong bond. On many other occasions, however, her narrative was entirely different. Kimber has implied that it was frustrating for her to reach out to him. "I've begged and begged for a relationship," she said. 

In the 1990s, Laurie Murray discovered that Eastwood was her dad. She'd been adopted as a baby and didn't know about her parents until she hired a professional to do some digging (via Hollywood Life). After finding out, Murray got in touch with Eastwood, who was welcoming, introducing her to the media at the 2004 Oscars. However, according to McGilligan, until Murray contacted Eastwood, the actor only suspected the possibility he had a child but never knew for sure, though Murray's mom had sent her baby to an adoption center and listed Clint Eastwood as her biological father. 

All in all, Eastwood's many relationships have led to a complex, chaotic family life.

Eastwood has been ruthlessly attacked for his political views

Clint Eastwood knows that being famous is no cakewalk. He has often been called out publicly for expressing his opinions. According to a Reuters report, Eastwood was heavily criticized by thousands of fans online who believed that the actor had officially endorsed then-U.S. president Donald Trump. While it's true that the actor had previously offered favorable comments on the politician, he never officially endorsed him. 

He was the subject of a viral meme in 2019. In the meme, Eastwood was falsely quoted as saying, "I have seen them all. I have heard them all. I am not making this endorsement on a whim. I think this man is the man that can get this country where it needs to be, back in the hands of true Americans. So, with that said, I am endorsing Mr. Trump for President." While Eastwood never said this, he did mention in 2016 that he preferred Trump over Hillary Clinton. He chose to not endorse anyone, though.

Meanwhile, in 2020, the actor expressed his support for Democratic hopeful Michael Bloomberg and said, "The best thing we could do is just get Mike Bloomberg in there." However, he also said that he supported some of Trump's actions but didn't approve of his online behavior. 

Eastwood has been portrayed as a control freak

Patrick McGilligan's book, "Clint: The Life and Legend," notably painted Eastwood in an unflattering light, stating, among other things, that Eastwood was perceived to be someone who desired to be control at all times and would go to any length to preserve that control. Per the Chicago Tribune, the actor was known for terminating contracts with employees if he felt that they were undermining his authority. An ex-producer who worked with Eastwood was quoted as saying, "If they ever called a meeting of all the people that Clint has screwed over, they'd have to hold it in the L.A. Coliseum."

Eastwood disagrees with this assessment (via CBS News). When he was asked in an interview whether he sought to be in control all the time, considering the fact that he acted as producer and director for "Million Dollar Baby" and also came up with film's score, the actor denied it, saying, "No, because I like the participation of everyone."