10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Clint Eastwood

8 minute read

By Jonny Hughes

In a career spanning 60 years, Clint Eastwood has established himself as an enduring cultural icon of masculinity. Eastwood is best known for his pioneering work in the spaghetti Western genre and the Dirty Harry films, but his fascinating life proves that he is just as legendary off-camera. For example, Eastwood has proven to be a highly talented director in the later stages of his career, with many of his films being gritty examinations of contemporary issues. In addition, he has won dozens of awards for his work in the film industry, but this only scratches the surface of what makes Eastwood such an iconic and beloved figure.

10. His First Role Was An Un-credited Part In Revenge Of The Creature

It is hard to imagine Clint Eastwood in any role that isn’t a tough, gun-slinging anti-hero, but even Hollywood’s greatest have to start somewhere. In 1955, Eastwood took on a minor and un-credited role in Revenge of the Creature, the sequel to monster-horror classic Creature from the Black Lagoon. Eastwood was cast as a soft-spoken lab technician named Jennings, who thinks that his experiment has gone disastrously, as he has lost one of his test rats. Comically, Jennings then becomes flustered after discovering that the rat is hiding in his lab coat. A string of minor roles followed this first one, and Eastwood eventually got a big break in 1958, when he was cast as Rowdy Yates for the Western series Rawhide. This paved the way for him to star in A Fistful of Dollars, which consequently sparked his career, and was a major milestone in the history of Western genre in movies.

Source: Slaven Vlasic / Stringer

9. He Was Fired For Having A Large Adam’s Apple

The film-making industry can be incredibly harsh for those trying to break through, which is something that Eastwood learned the hard way. After being encouraged to pursue a film career due to his chiseled good looks, Eastwood was incredibly fortunate and managed to secure a contract with Universal Studios after just a few months. He landed a few uncredited roles, like the ones we mentioned previously, but was soon fired for, allegedly having an Adam’s apple that was too prominent. Eastwood was also criticized for squinting and hissing through lines, mannerisms which would go on to become his trademark. Not one to give up, Eastwood supported himself by digging swimming pools in Hollywood Hills, and eventually got his big break with Rawhide. When casting him in the role, it was said that Eastwood looked like a cowboy, which would later help him to become the poster boy of the Western genre.

Source: Frazer Harrison / Staff

8. He Composes Film Scores, Plays The Piano, And Sings

It is common knowledge that Eastwood is an immensely talented actor and director, and if you didn’t know, a quick glance over his filmography and award list will bring you up to speed. However, if you took a closer look at his film credits, you would also notice that he is also a highly talented musician who has played the piano, sung and composed scores to many different films. Clearly a man with many talents, Eastwood provided the music for the films Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Grace is Gone, Changeling, Hereafter and J. Edgar. He also wrote and performed the credits theme for Gran Torino. Eastwood has had a passion for music all of his life, especially jazz, country, and Western music. He clearly passed this love for music on to one of his sons, Kyle Eastwood, who is now a successful jazz bassist and composer.

Source: Kevin Winter / Staff

7. He Has 7 Children With 5 Women

Clint Eastwood has quite the brood, with 7 children from 5 different women. He and actress Roxanne Tunis had a daughter, Kimber, in 1964, and she was followed by Kyle (1968) and Alison (1972) with his then-wife Maggie. Eastwood and Maggie divorced in 1984, and he then had Scott (1986) and Kathryn (1988) with a flight attendant named Jacklyn Reeves. In 1993, actress Frances Fisher gave birth to his fourth daughter, Francesca. After that, Eastwood married news anchor Dina Ruiz in 1996, with his seventh child, Morgan, born later that year. In 2014, Eastwood and Ruiz got divorced citing irreconcilable differences. Following this, Eastwood was linked with photographer Erica Tomlinson-Fisher (who was 41 years younger than Eastwood), but he and restaurant hostess Christina Sandera (a mere 33 years his junior) went public at the Academy Awards in 2015. His children regularly appear in the press and often speak about their father.

Source: Dave M. Benett / Contributor

6. He Ran For Mayor, Won, And Overturned A Ban On Ice Cream Parlors

In addition to the film, Eastwood also has a keen interest in politics. He even made a successful foray into that arena in 1986, when he was elected mayor of the small Californian town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Located in Monterey County, Carmel is a wealthy small town with a rich artistic history, which Eastwood considers his adopted hometown. One focal point of Eastwood’s campaign was to overturn an infamous “ice cream cone” law, which restricted the sale of ice cream cones and fast food. Eastwood ended up serving one term as mayor of Carmel, and during that time he still managed to maintain his film-making career by directing and producing the movies Heartbreak Ridge and Bird. In addition to overturning the ice cream cone law, Eastwood also supported small business interests and constructed a library annex, beach walkways, and public restrooms.

Source: Mark Mainz / Staff

5. He Did All His Own Climbing In The Eiger Sanction

Eastwood’s 1975 role in The Eiger Sanction involves a tragic story that took place during filming, which saw 26-year-old British climber David Knowles die on the Eiger while climbing advisor Mike Hoover suffered a fractured pelvis and severe bruising in the same incident. Eastwood considered canceling the production, but the climbers persuaded him to carry on, as they did not want Knowles’ death to be meaningless. As a result, now unwilling to ask for a stunt double to risk their life, Eastwood instead did all of his own climbing and stunts. This was despite the disapproval of the director of the International School of Mountaineering, who knew the dangers of climbing what has been dubbed the “Death Wall”. In the most famous scene of the movie, Eastwood hung from a rope 4,000 feet in the air and cut himself free, allowing himself to be saved by his rescuers. It is hard to imagine many modern actors undertaking such a dangerous stunt these days.

Source: Giulio Marcocchi / Stringer

4. He Turned Down Playing Both James Bond And Superman

When you’re talking about somebody as masculine and tough as Clint Eastwood, it seems obvious he would be the perfect fit for heroic roles, such as the suave super-spy James Bond and all-American hero Superman. In fact, Eastwood was given the opportunity to do both the tux and the spandex early in his career but turned both down. After Sean Connery stepped away from the Bond franchise, it has been reported that the studio was desperate for Eastwood to step in. However, Clint refused, as he believed that the character should be played by a British actor (a common opinion). Eastwood also did not fancy playing Superman, claiming that the role was not right for him. When asked about turning down the role of Superman, Eastwood said, “I always liked characters that were more grounded in reality. Maybe they do super things or more-than-human things — like Dirty Harry, he has a knack for doing crazy things or the western guys — but, still, they’re not caped crusaders.”

Source: Rodin Eckenroth / Contributor

3. He Has Saved More Than One Life

Furthering the idea that Clint Eastwood is one of the coolest and most heroic people walking the planet, he has also been responsible for saving at least two people’s lives (that we know of). During the filming of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, in the scene where the bridge blows up, Eastwood warned co-star Eli Wallach that they should retreat to a hilltop as quickly as possible, explaining that he should stay away as far as possible from explosives. This turned out to be life-saving advice, as the bridge was blown up prematurely due to a language mix-up, and had Wallach not already been retreating, then he certainly would have died. Many years later, in 2014, Eastwood also saved the life of golf tournament director Steve John. While playing at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament, Eastwood spotted that John was choking on a piece of food and he acted quickly, performing the Heimlich maneuver, which thankfully did the trick.

Source: David Livingston / Stringer

2. He Survived A Plane Crash, Then Swam 3 Miles To Safety

As we might have mentioned once or twice, Clint Eastwood is seen as the epitome of manliness. This is generally the result of seeing the tough characters that he often portrays in front of the camera, but he has also proven his toughness in real life, long before becoming a Hollywood legend. In 1951, during the Korean War, Eastwood was drafted into the US Army and served as a lifeguard and swimming instructor. Coincidentally, while a passenger in a Douglas AD bomber, the plane ran out of fuel and crashed into the ocean near Point Reyes, California. Eastwood and the pilot managed to escape the sinking aircraft and then swam an astonishing 3 miles to safety. This incredible survival story is not common knowledge but serves to make Eastwood seem just that much cooler. With such a dramatic story, you would expect Eastwood to have turned it into a Hollywood film or mention it in every opportunity, but this, of course, is not his style.

Source: James Aylott/Andrew Shawaf / Contributor

1. He Is Pro-Gun Control

For those familiar with his films, Clint Eastwood and guns seem to go hand in hand. Whenever his name is mentioned, images of a tough masculine character wielding some kind of firearm will come to mind. But in real life, Eastwood is in favor of gun control, and once said: “Why would anyone need or want an assault weapon?” Although most of his earlier films were violent and certainly featured a lot of guns, Eastwood also has made a point of incorporating anti-violence and anti-gun messages into his films. This was most notable with 1992’s multiple Oscar-winning film Unforgiven, which was a typical Western on the surface, but was also a gritty examination of the impact of violence and was a dedication to the anti-romanticizing of guns and gun violence, unlike other films in the genre. Also, despite what his on-screen persona would have you believe, Eastwood is a lifelong non-smoker and is incredibly health-conscious.

Source: David McNew / Stringer

Jonny Hughes


Jonny Hughes has been writing about movies and TV for Goliath since 2015.