US film actor and director who rose to stardom portraying tough laconic heroes.
Born in San Francisco, Eastwood grew up as a West Coast nomad, trailing behind a wandering father. He had already been employed as a lumberjack, pianist, steelworker, swimming instructor, and soldier when he was signed up by Universal Studios to play athletic bit parts. Subsequently, he established his distinctive screen persona portraying a laconic cowhand, Rowdy Yates, in the long-running TV series Rawhide (1959–66). From television Eastwood graduated to a trilogy of Italian ‘spaghetti westerns’ made in Spain by Sergio Leone – A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1966), and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1967). Eastwood was the second choice for the lead role in these films, chosen because the director could not afford James Coburn. Returning to America, Eastwood established his own film company, Malpaso Productions, and extended his range to World War II adventures, such as Where Eagles Dare (1968) and Kelly's Heroes (1970), and to musicals, such as Paint Your Wagon (1969).
Eastwood then found in Don Siegel not only a sympathetic director for whom to act but also a mentor in the art of film making. Their fruitful decade of partnership produced such Eastwood landmarks as Dirty Harry (1971) and Escape from Alcatraz (1979). The first film Eastwood directed was the psychodrama Play Misty For Me (1971), which he followed with High Plains Drifter (1975) and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1977). Between 1980 and 1990 he directed ten more films, himself acting in nine of them. The high point of his career came with the much-praised western Unforgiven (1992), which won the Oscars for both best film and best director. Subsequent films included The Bridges of Madison County (1995) and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1998). In 1986 Eastwood was elected mayor of his adopted home town, Carmel, California, a position he held for two years.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).