Clint Eastwood was born Clinton Eastwood Jr. on May 31, 1930, to Clinton Sr. and Ruth Eastwood, in San Francisco, California. He has one older sister, Jean. Eastwood worked odd jobs around this time, including as a hay bailer, logger, truck driver and steel-furnace stoker. In 1950, he was called to military duty with the Army Special Services, based at Fort Ord in Monterey, California.
In 1964, Eastwood went to Italy to star in a trio of westerns directed by Sergio Leone. The role Eastwood took the cool, laconic “Man with No Name” had been turned down by James Coburn and Charles Bronson.
Eastwood found bigger and better things in Italy with the spaghetti westerns A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and For a Few Dollars More (1965), but it was the third instalment in the trilogy where he found one of his signature roles: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).
The movie was a big hit and brought him instant international recognition. He followed it up with his first American-made western, Hang ‘Em High (1968), before playing second fiddle to Richard Burton in the World War II epic Where Eagles Dare (1968) and Lee Marvin in the unusual musical Paint Your Wagon (1969).
In 1978 Eastwood branched out into the comedy genre 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.
Eastwood kicked off the eighties 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 Eastwood’s trademark catchphrase, “Make my day”.
Eastwood also starred in Firefox (1982), Tightrope (1984), City Heat (1984) (with Burt Reynolds), Pale Rider (1985), and Heartbreak Ridge (1986), which were all big hits.
In 1988 Eastwood 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 his previous films had. Shortly thereafter, with outright bombs like Pink Cadillac (1989) and The Rookie (1990), it became apparent that Eastwood’s star was declining as it never had before.
In addition to directing many of his own star vehicles, Eastwood has also directed films in which he did not appear, such as Mystic River (2003) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), for which he received Academy Award nominations, and Changeling (2008).
He received considerable critical praise in France for several films including some which were not well received in the United States.
He has been awarded two of France’s highest honours: in 1994 he became a recipient of the Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and in 2007 he was awarded the Légion d’honneur medal. In 2000, he was awarded the Italian Venice Film Festival Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.
In October 2009, he was honoured by the Lumière Award (in honor of the Lumière Brothers, inventors of the Cinematograph) during the first edition of the Lumière Film Festival in Lyon, France.
This award honours his entire career and his major contribution to the 7th Art. In February 2010, Eastwood was recognized by President Barack Obama with an arts and humanities award. Obama described Eastwood’s films as “essays in individuality, hard truths and the essence of what it means to be American.