Date of Birth: May 31, 1930
Born in San Francisco, Clint Eastwood worked as a logger and a gas station attendant, among other things, before coming to Hollywood in the mid-1950's. After his arrival, he played small roles in several Universal features. But he was soon dropped when some execs decided his Adam's apple was too big. He swallowed his pride and, over the next few years, he dug swimming pools between playing bit parts in movies and on TV.
While visiting a friend at CBS, Eastwood was spotted by a network exec who cast him as cattle driver Rowdy Yates in the long-running western series Rawhide. The show achieved some limited star status for Eastwood.
Thanks to the success of three Italian-made Sergio Leone westerns: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966) Eastwood soon exchanged this limited status for bonifide international stardom.
Upon his return to the U.S., Eastwood set up his own production company, Malpaso, which had a hit right out of the box with the revenge western Hang 'Em High (1967). He expanded his relatively limited acting range in a succession of roles--most notably with the hit Dirty Harry (1971)--during the late 1960's and early 1970's, and directed several of his most popular movies, including 1971's Play Misty for Me (a forerunner to Fatal Attraction), High Plains Drifter (1973) and The Outlaw Josie Wales (1976).
Throughout the '70s, he was the world's biggest box-office draw, but his critical reputation didn't begin to turn until 1980, when New York's Museum of Modern Art honored him with a career retrospective. In 1985, he was decorated by the French, and, the year after that, he was elected mayor of a Northern California seaside community, Carmel.
Although Eastwood became known for his violent roles, the gentler side of his persona came through in pictures such as Bronco Billy (1980), a romantic comedy that he directed and starred in. As a filmmaker, Eastwood learned his lessons from the best of his previous directors, Don Siegel and Sergio Leone. Their approaches perfectly suited Eastwood's restrained acting style, and he integrated their them into his filmmaking technique with startling results, culminating in 1993 with his "Best Director" Oscar for The Unforgiven (1992). The same year, Eastwood had another hit on his hands with In the Line of Fire.
In 1995, Eastwood, then 65, earned the honorary Irving G. Thalberg Award from the Academy. He scored yet again with his film adaptation of the best-selling book The Bridges of Madison County in which he starred opposite Meryl Streep; in addition to serving as one of the film's stars, he also acted as its director and producer. Aside from producing the critical and financial misstep The Stars Fell on Henrietta in 1995, Eastwood's subsequent efforts have proven to be largely successful.
In 1997, he produced and directed the film adaptation of John Berendt's tale of Southern murder and mayhem, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and followed this as the director, producer, and star of 1997's Absolute Power and 1999's True Crime. When Eastwood directed the critical hit Mystic River (2003), he was awarded with a Golden Coach at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. He also received nominations from the Golden Globes and the Academy awards for Best Director.
Married in 1954 to Maggie Johnson, he fathered a daughter, Kimber, by actress Roxanne Tunis in 1964. He and Maggie later had two kids of their own (both of whom have starred in his movies), but the couple split in the late '70s, when Eastwood took up with sometime co-star Sondra Locke. His split from Locke was even more traumatic, leading to multimillion-dollar lawsuits against Eastwood and his studio, Warner Bros. Eastwood and Locke finally settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. On a much happier note, Eastwood married television news journalist Dina Ruiz, 35 years his junior, and the couple had a baby daughter in December 1996.
At the 2005 Golden Globes, where Eastwood's 16-year-old daughter Kathryn, from a relationship with Jacelyn Reeves, was Miss Golden Globe, Eastwood picked up his third Best Director Golden Globe for Million Dollar Baby (2004). He also received an Academy Award nod for Best Actor and took home Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture for Million Dollar Baby (2004). In 2006, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of America. Gran Torino (2008), which he directed and starred in, won AFI Movie of the Year in 2008 as well as Best Foreign Film at France's César Awards.
Over the past few years, Eastwood has been on a hot streak in terms of his directorial projects, which include the political biopic J. Edgar (2011), the musical biopic Jersey Boys (2014), the Oscar-nominated war biopic American Sniper (2014), and the Chelsey Sullenberger biopic Sully (2016). Although he got his start as an actor, he's only appeared in two films in the past decade — Gran Torino (2008), which he also directed, and Trouble with the Curve (2012).