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Perhaps the icon of macho movie stars, and a living legend, Clint Eastwood has become a standard in international cinema. Born in 1930 in San Francisco, the son of a steel worker, Eastwood was a college dropout from Los Angeles College, attempting a business related degree. He found work in such B-films as Tarantula (1955), and Francis in the Navy (1955) until he got his first breakthrough with the long-running TV series "Rawhide" (1959). As Rowdy Yates, he made the show his own and became a household name around the country.
But Eastwood found even bigger and better things with Per un pugno di dollari (1964) ("A Fistful of Dollars"), and Per qualche dollaro in più (1965) ("For a Few Dollars More"). But it was the second sequel to "A Fistful of Dollars" where he found one of his trademark roles: Buono, il brutto, il cattivo., Il (1966) ("The Good, The Bad and The Ugly"). The movie was a big hit and he became an instant international star. Eastwood got some excellent roles thereafter: Where Eagles Dare (1968) found him second fiddle to Richard Burton but to the tune of 800,000 dollars in this classic World War II movie. He also starred in Coogan's Bluff (1968), (the loose inspiration to the TV series "McCloud" (1970)) and the unusual but successful Paint Your Wagon (1969). In 1970 Eastwood went in an experimental direction again with the offbeat Kelly's Heroes (1970), which was yet again a success.
1971 proved to be his best year in films, or at least one of his best. He starred in the thriller Play Misty for Me (1971) and The Beguiled (1971). But it was his role as the hard edge police inspector in Dirty Harry (1971) that gave Eastwood one of his signature roles and invented the loose-cannon cop genre that has been imitated even to this day. Eastwood also found work in American revisionist westerns like High Plains Drifter (1973) -- which he also directed, Joe Kidd (1972) and Hang 'Em High (1968). Eastwood had constant quality films with Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) and Magnum Force (1973), a sequel to Dirty Harry (1971), but 1976 found Eastwood with even more legendary films. The first was The Enforcer (1976/I), often considered to be the best "Dirty Harry" sequel, and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), considered to perhaps be one of the quintessential westerns.
As the late seventies approached Eastwood found more solid work in comedies like Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and in thrillers like Escape from Alcatraz (1979), but he seemed to have lost his edge in making great films. In the early eighties Eastwood made credible movies with Honkytonk Man (1982) and Firefox (1982), but it was the fourth sequel to 'Dirty Harry', Sudden Impact (1983), that made him a viable star for the eighties. At this time Eastwood seemed to be competing with Burt Reynolds as America's top movie star. In the mid-eighties Clint made some solid movies but nothing really stuck out. Tightrope (1984), City Heat (1984) (with Reynolds), and others were solid but not classic films. In 1988 Eastwood did his fifth and up to this point 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. About this time with outright bombs like The Rookie (1990) and Pink Cadillac (1989), it was fairly obvious Eastwood's star was declining as it never had before. He then started taking on more personal projects such as directing Bird (1988), a biopic of Charlie 'Bird' Parker, and starring in and directing White Hunter Black Heart (1990), an uneven, loose biography of John Huston.
But Eastwood surprised yet again. First with his western, Unforgiven (1992), which garnered him an Oscar for director, and nomination for best actor. Then he took on the secret service in In the Line of Fire (1993), which was a big hit, followed by the interesting but poorly received drama, A Perfect World (1993), with Kevin Costner. Next up was a love story, The Bridges of Madison County (1995), but it soon became apparent he was going backwards after his brief revival. Since "The Bridges of Madison County," his films have been good but not always successful at the Box Office. Among them were the badly received True Crime (1999) and Blood Work (2002), and the well-received Space Cowboys (2000). But he did have a big success directing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997).
Eastwood has seven children, has been married twice, and had a long time relationship with frequent co-star Sondra Locke. Although he is aging now, Clint Eastwood has surprised before, and who knows, he may surprise again.