Interesting Facts

48 Legendary Facts About Clint Eastwood

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He’s been one of the most iconic actors for many decades and has been equally successful as a film director.

He personified the ultimate gunslinging icon of masculinity in the 1960s and hasn’t looked back since, starring in and directing numerous amazing films.

Sit back and relax as in this post, You’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Clint Eastwood.

1. He was born in California

Clint Eastwood was born on May 31, 1930, in San Francisco California. He’s the son of Clinton Eastwood (1906–1970) and Ruth (Runner) Wood (1909–2006).

His mother took the last name of her second husband, John Belden Wood (1913–2004). She married him after Clint Eastwood’s father passed away.

San Francisco, the birthplace of Clint Eastwood
San Francisco, the birthplace of Clint Eastwood / Pixabay

2. He had a funny nickname as a baby

When Clint was born, he was already special. So special that the nurses in the hospital gave him the nickname “Samson.”

What made him so special?

He weighed a stunning 11 pounds and 6 ounces (5.2 kilos) at birth!

Clint Eastwood in Cannes / JJ Georges /

3. His zodiac sign is Gemini

Since Clint Eastwood was born on May 31, his sun sign is Gemini. He was born at exactly 5:35 pm in San Francisco which means his moon is in Leo and his ascendant is in Scorpio.

Clint Eastwood’s zodiac birth chart – Source

4. His mother made an interesting comment about him

There is no way in the world that his mother could have ever predicted the success Clint would eventually get as an actor and movie director. Once she jokingly said about her son:

“It’s a shame he wasn’t born rich, because he could have had so much fun.”

Ruth Wood about her son Clint Eastwood

Don’t worry Mrs. Wood, we are pretty sure Clint has had all the fun he could have ever wished for!

Clint Eastwood speaks with Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta on November 8, 2011 – Source

5. He has a famous ancestor

He is of English, Irish, Scottish, and Dutch ancestry. One of the interesting facts about Clint Eastwood is that he is a descendant of “Mayflower” passenger William Bradford.

Clint Eastwood is the 12th generation that was born in the family line of William Bradford in North America.

Clint Eastwood is a direct descendant of William Bradford / Wiki Commons

6. The ship brought the first English to the New World

The Mayflower was a British ship that transported the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, to the New World.

It brought about 102 passengers and 30 crew members from Plymouth in England to North America in the year 1620.

The Mayflower ship
Painting of the Mayflower ship sailing to the New World – Wiki Commons

7. He moved frequently as a child

Clint Eastwood has a younger sister named Jeanne Bernhardt who was born in 1934. Together with her older brother, they moved all over the West Coast of America as her father was working different jobs.

During this period in the 1930s, Clint wasn’t even 10 years old.

West Coast of America map
Clint Eastwood moved along the West Coast of America as a child – Pixabay

8. His family settled down in Piedmont

After nearly a decade of living a nomadic existence, the family settled down in the small town of Piedmont in Alameda County, California. Piedmont is located just next to the city of Oakland.

They stayed there all through the 1940s, and this is where Clint Eastwood went to school in the Piedmont Middle School. He later would have gone to the Piedmont High School but wasn’t allowed in. (more about that in fact number 10!)

View of Piedmont with the Middle and High Schools in the foreground
View of Piedmont with the Middle and High Schools in the foreground – Source

9. Clint Eastwood didn’t grow up poor

Apparently, his dad did a good job and the family was able to save a lot of money as they were able to move into a nice house in an upper-middle-class neighborhood of Piedmont.

On top of that, their house had its own pool, the parents were members of a country club and they each had their own car.

Not too shabby!

Clint Eastwood as a teenager – Source

10. He was held back one year

Clint Eastwood’s academic achievements aren’t something to write home about. The records show that he had to attend summer school and more importantly, that he was actually held back a year due to poor academic grades.

11. He was asked not to come to our school

He still wasn’t in but was politely asked not to attend the prestigious Piedmont High School, a place where rich kids went to.

The reason?

He was caught riding his motorcycle on the school’s football field. Since it was wet, he tore it all up in the process.

motorcycle on a football field

12. It’s not sure if he ever graduated High School

When he was refused access to attend the prestigious Piedmont High School, he went to Oakland Tech where he was supposed to graduate in 1949.

Most of his former classmates agreed that he didn’t care too much for school and can’t even remember whether or not he actually graduated from Oakland Tech. Graduation records are held strictly confidential as well.

One thing was true though, he liked Oakland much better than Piedmont and rather spent his time in jazz clubs than go to school.

13. He became a tough man working several jobs

After quitting school, in the years that followed Clint Eastwood held several jobs. Remarkably, all the jobs he held were stereotypically masculine such as a steelworker, a firefighter, a lumberjack, and a logger.

What’s intriguing about the list of jobs he had is that it made him appreciate hard work, and established his work ethic as well.

Eventually, he would portray these characteristics along with his iconic masculinity in most of his movies as well.

facts about Clint Eastwood

14. He tried to enroll at Seattle University

With a career like his in school and working numerous odd jobs, you could hardly imagine that Clint Eastwood would be able to get into university.

Yet he claimed that was his intention and for one reason only: His love for jazz!

Perhaps he learned a thing or two when he was skipping school and visited jazz clubs instead. So when he learned that Seattle University had a good music program, he intended to enroll in it.

Clint Eastwood preferred hanging out in jazz clubs to going to school – Wiki Commons

15. He was drafted for the United States Army

Before he could ever go to Seattle University to pursue the music program, he got drafted for the United States Army in 1951.

An interesting fact is that he got drafted during the Korean War which had started just a year before this moment.

16. He didn’t actually see combat

In his own words, he always simply refers to the fact that he was drafted for the United States Army, without referring to the Korean War.

One thing is certain, nobody that got drafted wanted to go to war and would do anything to avoid seeing combat on the other side of the world.

So how did Clint Eastwood escape the horrors in Korea?

According to his former girlfriend Sondra Locke, he got a job as a lifeguard at Ford Ord in Northern California for the entire 2 years he was in the army.

Michael Zelniker, Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, and Forest Whitaker – Wiki Commons

17. Here’s how he really avoided the Korean War

According to Patrick McGilligan’s biography of Clint Eastwood, he avoided it by romancing the daughter of one of the officers at Fort Ord.

because he was the officer’s daughter’s boyfriend, the officer would ensure Clint wouldn’t be sent by giving him the job as a lifeguard and double-checking if his name wasn’t one of those on the list.

Pretty clever, that Clint!

Clint eastwood avoided the Korean war
Clint romanced the daughter of an officer to avoid being sent to Korea – Wiki Commons

18. He miraculously escaped death in a plane crash

Coming back from a vacation in Seattle during his time at Fort Ord, he decided to jump into the only plane available at the time, a Douglas AD.

This wasn’t a passenger plane by any definition of the words, but rather a military torpedo bomber from World War II.

He recalls that he felt “nothing but stark fear” as “everything went wrong and the plane eventually ran out of fuel.” They were flying above the ocean and went in, miraculously escaping serious injuries.

A similar Douglas AD bomber crashed into the ocean with Clint Eastwood in it – Source

19. Being a lifeguard helped him to escape

Being a lifeguard, he was fit enough for a long swim. It was November so the water was freezing cold, so swimming fast was necessary.

The plane crashed around Point Reyes, California, and it was about 2 miles (3.2 km) off the coast, so he and the pilot were able to reach safety.

Interesting note: That part of the ocean is rife with white sharks, some of the deadliest animals in the great seas! Luckily, Clint Eastwood wasn’t aware of this fact back then.

Great white shark
Clint Eastwood swam to safety in an ocean full of these adorable creatures – Pixabay

20. He wasn’t a very good actor initially

It was through a friend at Fort Ord named Chuck Hill that he was able to sneak his way into a Hollywood movie studio. There he introduced himself to Irving Glassberg, who arranged an audition under Arthur Lubin, a reputable movie director at Universal Studios.

It was clear that Clint Eastwood wasn’t much of an actor in those days, as Lubin remarked. “He was quite amateurish. He didn’t know which way to turn or which way to go or do anything.”

Arthur Lubin was a famous actor and movie director
Arthur Lubin was a famous actor and movie director – Wiki Commons

21. He got his first contract anyway, under one condition

There must have been something that impressed Lubin, mainly his stature (at 6’4″ or 193cm) and general aura. He is the one who gave him his first acting contract at $100 a week.

What was the catch?

Clint Eastwood was required to take acting classes to improve his skills!

22. Universal didn’t renew his contract

Even though he got a big break and was able to sign a contract with Universal Studios (even though it paid little money), the company didn’t renew his contract and terminated it on October 23, 1955.

Their main objections were his stiff acting and delivering his lines through his teeth.

One of the most interesting facts about Clint Eastwood is that these characteristics became sort of his trademark throughout his acting career.

facts about clint eastwood
Clint Eastwood was a stiff actor and delivered his lines through his teeth / Wiki Commons

23. The mid-50s weren’t easy for Clint Eastwood

After some minor roles for Universal, things didn’t really improve for Clint after his contract got terminated. He was able to get the odd role here and there, but never really the big breakthrough he was looking for.

This dark period in his life went on for years and is described in one of Eminem’s rap songs:

“…Clint Eastwood, a young a** man with a trash can strapped to the back of his a** so the rats can’t chew through his last pants…”

That kinda summarizes it.

24. He got desperate as well

Through Arthur Lubin, he was able to get a recommendation for Billy Wilder’s new movie, “The Spirit of St. Louis,” a role he absolutely wanted.

On October 26, 1954, to convince Billy Wilder, he wrote him a very polite letter, even warning him of an on-screen interview he seemed to have botched earlier, which he feared would ruin his chances to get the role.

His fears were grounded as the role eventually went to Jimmy Stewart.

Jimmy Stewart got the role
Jimmy Stewart got the role in the movie Clint Eastwood desperately wanted – Wiki Commons

25. A funny anecdote about why he got fired from Universal

When Clint Eastwood was working for Universal, another would-be actor that later got immensely successful was working there too, Burt Reynolds.

According to him, Clint Eastwood actually got fired because his Adam’s apple was sticking out too far.

Now here’s the funny part. Burt got fired the same year as well, and to him, they just said “we fired you because you can’t act!”

Clint asked, “how is that better than the reason they gave me?”

Burt replied: “I can learn how to act, you can’t get rid of that Adam’s apple!”

Burt Reynolds in 1960
Burt Reynolds in 1960, a few years after being fired from Universal – Wiki Commons

26. It finally happened

After years of struggling, he finally managed to get the big break he was waiting for. He got cast as Rowdy Yates for the CBS hour-long western series Rawhide.

Filming of the series began in the summer of 1958.

Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide – Pixabay

27. Rawhide was a lot of hard work

Luckily, Clint Eastwood wasn’t phased anymore by hard work due to the period he went through after his high school years.

Filming Rawhide was done 6 days a week, often more than 12 hours a day.

28. he made some good money from Rawhide when it got canceled

But it didn’t happen overnight.

In the first season of Rawhide, he made only $750 per episode. By the end of 1963, the show started to decline in popularity and it was eventually canceled in 1965.

For every episode that got canceled, he received a whopping $119,000 in severance pay!

Clint Eastwood in rawhide

29. This was the role that defined his career

Kt was time for Clint Eastwood to make a change in his career. As he described it, “In Rawhide I did get awfully tired of playing the conventional white hat. The hero kisses old ladies and dogs and was kind to everybody. I decided it was time to be an anti-hero.”

His chance came when Sergio Leone agreed to sign him for the first in what would later be referred to as the “Spaghetti Westerns,” “A Fistful of Dollars” in 1964.

His portrayal as “The Man with No Name” would ultimately define his entire acting career and make him an established actor.

Clint Eastwood and Marianne Koch in "A Fistful of Dollars."
Clint Eastwood and Marianne Koch in “A Fistful of Dollars.” – Wiki Commons

30. The movies were recorded in Spain and you can visit the set

An American Western movie, directed by an Italian and recorded in a remote area in Spain. Nobody in his right mind in the United States believed this would ever be a success.

The area where the movies were recorded still serves as an entertainment venue near the Spanish city of Almeria. The attraction is fittingly called “Mini-Hollywood” and apart from the town and saloon where the movies were shot, a show is performed every day as well.

The town square of the set of Mini-Hollywood – Source

31. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (Famous)…

The Spaghetti Westerns were only released in the United States in 1967, and when it happened, they were an instant commercial success.

The one movie that stuck out was “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” which made Clint Eastwood an instant international movie star.

32. Clint Eastwood was very lucky to get the role

Even though “The Man with No Name” became the role that kickstarted his acting career, he was actually very lucky to get it.

He wasn’t the first choice by any means, and it’s only because James Coburn (known for “The Great Escape) wanted $25,000, and because Charles Bronson thought the script of “A Fistful of Dollars” was one of the worst he ever read, he got a chance.

Clint Eastwood as “The Man With No Name” in “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” – Source

33. A Fistful of Dollars was actually a remake of a Samurai movie

The movie that made Clint Eastwood famous was actually a remake of a Japanese movie released just a few years earlier in 1961 named “Yojimbo.”

The plot goes as follows:

“A nameless ronin, or samurai with no master (Toshirô Mifune), enters a small village in feudal Japan where two rival businessmen are struggling for control of the local gambling trade.”

Sounds familiar?

Unfortunately, the makers of Yojimbo sued Leone successfully after “A Fistful of Dollars” was released.

34. Clint Eastwood’s demands went up

Because of the success of his initial movies, he could start playing hardball when it came to his salary. After all, the movies were bringing in a lot of cash as well.

For his role in “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, he actually didn’t show up until the producers agreed to pay him $250,000 and buy him a new Ferrari.

35. He started his own production company and it has a meaningful name

Clint Eastwood’s production company was formed as early as 1968, and during this period, he came up with a very fitting name.

His production company is called “Malpaso Productions,” and Malpaso means “bad Step.”

Why is it called this way?

Because his agent at the time encouraged him NOT to take on the roles in the Spaghetti Westerns and warned it would be a “bad step” in his career.

Obviously, he was very wrong.

Malpaso Productions

36. Clint Eastwood doesn’t smoke

The character he played in the dollar trilogy is nothing less than a chain smoker. The interesting thing about this fact is that Clint Eastwood himself doesn’t smoke, and only does so if it’s required for movie roles.

Sergio Leone really felt this character needed to smoke, and even though Clint absolutely hated it, he reluctantly did.

37. His statue in Madame Tussaud’s smokes

To prove how iconic the cigarette in the mouth of the “Man with No Name” really was, and how it defined the character, the creators of Clint Eastwood’s wax statue in the Madame Tussauds museum put a cigarette in his mouth.

Clint Eastwood's statue in Madame Tussauds
Clint Eastwood’s statue in Madame Tussauds – Source

38. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly was the first movie

Even though it came in third in the trilogy, it was actually a prequel to the first two movies. The reason we know is that we see in this movie how The Man with No Name acquired his famous poncho.

39. Clint Eastwood never washed the poncho

For the duration of the shooting of the entire trilogy, the poncho wasn’t washed at all. According to him, “it would simply fall apart if I did.”

40. His role in Dirty Harry created a new genre

Dirty Harry,” in which Clint Eastwood plays San Francisco cop Harry Callahan as he attempts to stop a psychopathic madman by any means necessary, is one of his most iconic roles.

So what is this new genre called?

The “loose-cannon cop” genre, is the “first true archetype” of the action film.

Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry
Clint Eastwood in 1974 – Source

41. Frank Sinatra was supposed to play Dirty Harry

But he couldn’t hold a gun.

According to Clint, he was called with the question of whether or not he was still interested in the movie. Frank Sinatra seemed to have problems with his hands which didn’t allow him to hold the .44 Magnum Harry Calahan loved to flaunt.

So yes, he got a bit lucky, but it all ended up pretty well in the end.

42. Dirty Harry’s villain refers to a real killer

Dirty Harry finds himself up against a truly evil madman named Scorpio who wants to kill people at random. This madman is actually based on a real killer referred to as “The Zodiac Killer,” who had been on a killing spree in San Francisco around the time the movie was shot.

zodiac killer
Zodiac killer – Wiki Commons

43. Clint Eastwood refused a lot of roles

Even though he was a bit lucky with his two most iconic roles at the beginning of his career, he also refused a lot of roles for various reasons as his career went on.

Some of the most notable include Superman, James McClane (Die Hard), and James Bond. he refused to play James Bond because he believed it should be played by an Englishman.

Another notable refusal is that of Martin Sheen’s role in “Apocalypse Now.” The reason for that one? He didn’t feel like shooting in a jungle for 16 weeks!

44. He never says “Cut”

As a movie director, Clint Eastwood has made it a habit to simply move on. He doesn’t like redoing scenes and instead of screaming “Cut!” he simply mentions “Let’s move on!”

Once Matt Damon asked if he could redo a scene. His answer?

Why? So you can waste everybody’s time?”

Straight to the point, isn’t he?

This is probably the face he made when Matt Damon asked that question – Source

45. he has won 4 Academy Awards for 2 movies

Two of his movies which he directed and starred in have won him Academy Awards. The 1992 Western “Unforgiven” and the 2004 sports movie “Million Dollar Baby” both won him an Academy Award for best actor and best picture.

Million Dollar Baby also starred Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman.

Clint eastwood million dollar baby

46. France loves Clint Eastwood

He has been given two awards of France’s highest civilian honors. In 1994, he became a recipient of the Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2007, was awarded the Legion of Honour medal.

47. He’s vague about the number of children he has

He’s not that open when it comes to family matters. After all, he has been divorced multiple times and has had numerous relationships, which often overlapped with each other.

From these marriages and relationships, he has had multiple children. In 2009, David Letterman asked if he had 7 children.

He simply replied, “At least.”

Clint Eastwood and his last ex-wife Dina Ruiz whom he divorced in 2014
Clint Eastwood and his last ex-wife Dina Ruiz whom he divorced in 2014 – Source

48. He believes in a healthy lifestyle

We already mentioned that he doesn’t smoke, but that’s not the only healthy habit he has. He firmly believes in a healthy lifestyle and practices Transcendental Meditation every morning.

One thing he can’t resist?

A cold beer!

What do you expect from an actor that became the ultimate icon of masculinity, right? Cheers, Clint!

Clint eastwood likes beer

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