Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. Born in San Francisco, he is the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr. and Ruth Wood (née Runner). The family frequently moved around Northern California when Clint was growing up before settling in Oregon. After graduating high school, he moved to Seattle in 1951 and worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor for the military, before returning to California two years later.
In 1955 Clint began working as an actor with brief, uncredited bit parts in B-movies. He almost gave up acting before getting his big break on the TV series "Rawhide" (1959), where he was a supporting cast member for six years. While still on the show, Eastwood was cast in his first substantial role, as "The Man with No Name" in A Fistful of Dollars (1964), the first of three low-budget spaghetti westerns filmed in Italy. This was followed by For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), the latter which brought him tremendous fame upon it's release in America in 1968. He followed that up with another western, Hang 'Em High (1968), then a co-starring role in the unconventional musical Paint Your Wagon (1969). Eastwood combined tough-guy action with offbeat humor in Kelly's Heroes (1970) and the particularly entertaining Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970).
1971 proved to be a turning point in his career. He directed his first movie, the thriller Play Misty for Me (1971), in which he played a man being stalked by a crazed female admirer whose obsession with him turns from sexual to violent. That same year, he played the hard edge police inspector in Dirty Harry (1971), which gave Eastwood one of his signature roles and invented the loose-cannon cop genre that has been imitated even to this day. If the Dollars trilogy made Eastwood a star, Dirty Harry made him a superstar. He subsequently found work in American revisionist westerns like High Plains Drifter (1973), which he also directed. Eastwood had a constant stream of quality films over the next few years, teaming up with Jeff Bridges in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), starring in the "Dirty Harry" sequels Magnum Force (1973) and The Enforcer (1976/I), the quintessential western The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), the shoot-'em-up road adventure The Gauntlet (1977), the hugely successful comedy Every Which Way But Loose (1978) with Clyde the orangutan, and the fact-based thriller Escape from Alcatraz (1979).
Clint kicked off the eighties with a sequel to "Every Which Way but Loose", Any Which Way You Can (1980), which was also a blockbuster despite negative reviews from critics. The fourth 'Dirty Harry' sequel, Sudden Impact (1983), became the highest grossing film of the series. Clint also starred in Firefox (1982), Tightrope (1984), Pale Rider (1985), and Heartbreak Ridge (1986), which were all big hits but did not become classics. His fifth and final "Dirty Harry" movie, The Dead Pool (1988), was a minor commercial hit but severely panned by critics. Shortly after his career declined with the outright bomb comedy Pink Cadillac (1989) and the disappointing cop film The Rookie (1990). It was fairly obvious that Eastwood's star was declining as it never had before.
But Eastwood quickly bounced back, first with his western Unforgiven (1992), which garnered him his first Oscar nomination as Best Actor, as well as wins as Best Director and producer of the Best Picture. Then he took on the secret service in In the Line of Fire (1993), another huge hit. Next up was The Bridges of Madison County (1995), a love story with Meryl Streep. Over the next few years, the quality of his films was up and down. He directed and starred in the well-received Absolute Power (1997) and Space Cowboys (2000), as well as the badly received True Crime (1999) and Blood Work (2002).
However, Eastwood rose to prominence once again, starring opposite Hilary Swank in what is arguably the best film of his career: Million Dollar Baby (2004). A critical and commercial triumph, the movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture, as well as earning Eastwood a second nomination for Best Actor and win for Best Director. After this he took a four-year acting hiatus before starring in Gran Torino (2008). This film grossed $30 million during its opening weekend in January 2009, making him the oldest leading man to reach #1 at the box office.
After starring in iconic movies for four decades, Clint Eastwood has proved himself to be the longest-running movie star. Although he is aging now and focusing more on directing, his career as a director continues to thrive with the award-winning films Mystic River (2003), Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), and Changeling (2008) which starred Angelina Jolie.
Eastwood has managed to keep his scandalous personal life private and has rarely been featured in the tabloid press. He had a fourteen-year relationship with actress Sondra Locke and has seven children by five other women.