Clint Eastwood was born May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, the son of Clinton Eastwood Sr., a bond salesman and later manufacturing executive for Georgia-Pacific Corporation, and Ruth Wood, a housewife turned IBM operator. He had a comfortable, middle-class upbringing in nearby Piedmont. At school Clint took interest in music and mechanics, but was an otherwise bored student; this resulted in being held back a grade. In 1949, when Eastwood was 19, his parents and younger sister relocated to Washington state, and young Clint spent a couple years working menial jobs in the Pacific Northwest. Returning to California in 1951, he did a stint at Fort Ord Military Reservation and later enrolled at Los Angeles City College, but dropped out after two semesters to pursue acting. During the mid-'50s he landed uncredited bit parts in such B-films as Revenge of the Creature (1955) and Tarantula (1955) while digging swimming pools and driving a garbage truck to supplement his income. In 1958, he landed his first consequential acting role in the long-running TV show Rawhide (1959) with Eric Fleming. Though only a secondary player for the first seven seasons, Clint was promoted to series star when Fleming departed--both literally and figuratively--in its final year, along the way becoming a recognizable face to television viewers around the country.
Eastwood's big-screen breakthrough came as The Man with No Name in Sergio Leone's trilogy of excellent spaghetti westerns: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). The movies were shown exclusively in Italy during their respective copyright years with Enrico Maria Salerno providing the voice for Clint's character, finally getting American distribution in 1967/68. As the last film racked up respectable grosses, Eastwood, 37, rose from low-level actor to sought-after commodity in just a matter of months. Again a success was the late-blooming star's first U.S.-made western, Hang 'Em High (1968). He followed that up with the lead role in Coogan's Bluff (1968) (the loose inspiration for the TV series McCloud (1970)), before playing second fiddle to Richard Burton in the World War II epic Where Eagles Dare (1968) and Lee Marvin in the bizarre musical Paint Your Wagon (1969). In Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970) and Kelly's Heroes (1970), Eastwood leaned in an experimental direction by combining tough-guy action with offbeat humor.
1971 proved to be his busiest year in film. He starred as a sleazy Union soldier in The Beguiled (1971) to critical acclaim, and made his directorial debut with the classic erotic thriller Play Misty for Me (1971). His role as the hard edge police inspector in Dirty Harry (1971), meanwhile, boosted him to cultural icon status and helped popularize the loose-cannon cop genre. Eastwood put out a steady stream of entertaining movies thereafter: the westerns Joe Kidd (1972), High Plains Drifter (1973) and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) (his first of six onscreen collaborations with then live-in love Sondra Locke), the Dirty Harry sequels Magnum Force (1973) and The Enforcer (1976), the road adventures Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) and The Gauntlet (1977), and the fact-based prison film Escape from Alcatraz (1979). He branched out into the comedy genre in 1978 with Every Which Way but Loose (1978), which became the biggest hit of his career up to that time; taking inflation into account, it still is. In short, The Eiger Sanction (1975) notwithstanding, the '70s were nonstop success for Clint.
Eastwood kicked off the '80s with Any Which Way You Can (1980), the blockbuster sequel to Every Which Way but Loose. The fourth Dirty Harry film, Sudden Impact (1983), was the highest-grossing film of the franchise and spawned his trademark catchphrase: "Make my day." Clint also starred in Bronco Billy (1980), Firefox (1982), Tightrope (1984), City Heat (1984), Pale Rider (1985) and Heartbreak Ridge (1986), all of which were solid hits, with Honkytonk Man (1982) being his only commercial failure of the period. In 1988 he did his fifth and final Dirty Harry movie, The Dead Pool (1988). Although it was a success overall, it did not have the box office punch the previous films had. About this time, with outright bombs like Pink Cadillac (1989) and The Rookie (1990), it seemed Eastwood's star was declining as it never had before. He then started taking on low-key projects, directing Bird (1988), a biopic of Charlie Parker that earned him a Golden Globe, and starring in and directing White Hunter Black Heart (1990), an uneven, loose biopic of John Huston (both films had a limited release).
Eastwood bounced back--big time--with his dark western Unforgiven (1992), which garnered the then 62-year-old his first ever Academy Award nomination (Best Actor), and an Oscar win for Best Director. Churning out a quick follow-up hit, he took on the secret service in In the Line of Fire (1993), then accepted second billing for the first time since 1970 in the interesting but poorly received A Perfect World (1993) with Kevin Costner. Next up was a love story, The Bridges of Madison County (1995), where Clint surprised audiences with a sensitive performance alongside none other than Meryl Streep. But it soon became apparent he was going backwards after his brief revival. Subsequent films were credible, but nothing really stuck out. Absolute Power (1997) and Space Cowboys (2000) did well enough, while True Crime (1999) and Blood Work (2002) were received badly, as was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), which he directed but didn't appear in.
Eastwood surprised again in the mid-'00s, returning to the top of the A-list with Million Dollar Baby (2004). Also starring Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman, the hugely successful drama won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Clint. He scored his second Best Actor nomination, too. Eastwood's next starring vehicle, Gran Torino (2008), earned almost $30 million in its opening weekend and was his highest grosser unadjusted for inflation. 2012 saw him in a rare lighthearted movie, Trouble with the Curve (2012), as well as a reality show, Mrs. Eastwood & Company (2012). And between acting jobs, Clint chalked up a long and impressive list of credits behind the camera. He directed Mystic River (2003) (in which Sean Penn and Tim Robbins gave Oscar-winning performances), Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) (nominated for the Best Picture Oscar), Changeling (2008) (a vehicle for screen megastar Angelina Jolie), Invictus (2009) (again with Freeman), Hereafter (2010), J. Edgar (2011), Jersey Boys (2014), American Sniper (2014) (2014's top box office champ), Sully (2016) (starring Tom Hanks as hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger) and The 15:17 to Paris (2018). Back on screens, he played an unlikely drug courier in The Mule (2018), which reached the top of the box office with a nine-figure gross, then directed Richard Jewell (2019). At age 91, Eastwood made history as the oldest actor to star above the title in a movie with the release of Cry Macho (2021).
Outside of the limelight, Eastwood has led a hysterically convoluted existence and is described by biographer Patrick McGilligan as a cunning manipulator of the media. His slew of partners and children are now reported somewhat factually, but for the first three decades of his celebrity, his personal life was kept top secret, and several of his families were left out of the official narrative. The Hollywood kingpin refuses to disclose his exact number of offspring even to this day. He had a longtime relationship with equally enigmatic co-star Locke (deceased 2018), and has fathered at least eight children by at least six different women in an unending string of liaisons, many of which overlapped. He has been married only twice, however -- with a mere three of his progeny coming from those unions.
Eastwood has real estate holdings in Bel-Air, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Burney (in northern California), Idaho's Sun Valley and Kihei, Hawaii.