Clint Eastwood: Happy 80th Birthday!

Clint- Eastwood WesternThe weathered features, steel-eyed squint and take-no-prisoners demeanor are immediately recognizable to the global cinema audience that has raised this onetime Army swimming instructor to a remarkable 40+years at the forefront of box-office draws.

Born in San Francisco to a steelworker father, Clinton Eastwood, Jr. spent his first post-high school years doing assorted odd jobs before his Korean War-era enlistment. Encouraged by service buddies David Janssen and Martin Milner to give movies a shot once back to civilian life, he obtained a contract with Universal in 1955, and received bits in Bs like Revenge of the Creature (more about his debut here), Francis in the Navy and Tarantula.

Cut by Universal after a year, he kept plugging until 1959, when he landed the name-making role of trail boss Rowdy Yates in the CBS TV series Rawhide. In 1964, he spent the show’s hiatus travelling to Spain to make Sergio Leone’s Yojimbo Westernization A Fistful of Dollars, and the clamorous response from European audiences spurred his return as “the Man with No Name” in For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

In 1967, the Leone trilogy came to American theaters, and granted Clint immediate big-screen cred with audiences at home. Hollywood immediately placed him in sagebrush sagas like Hang ‘Em High, Two Mules for Sister Sara and Coogan’s Bluff (which kicked off his association with favorite director Don Siegel).

One of Clint’s most unusual years was 1969. He starred in Where Eagles Dare, a classic WWII thriller in a role with which audiences became very familiar – as an American officer infiltrating a German fortress in the Alps. And in a role very unfamiliar to his growing fans, Clint appeared and sang in his first and only musical undertaking in Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon.

Clint Eastwood as Dirty HarryThe ’70s began with his first directorial opportunity, as he also starred in the gripping suspenser Play Misty For Me, and the first of five forays as the Magnum-wielding San Francisco detective “Dirty Harry” Callahan, which established him as a leading draw in the police action genre.

For the balance of the decade and into the early ’80s, his touch would remain golden, be it in oaters, cop thrillers, or action-comedies (Every Which Way But Loose, Any Which Way You Can).

By the mid-’80s, his attentions were focused beyond Hollywood; notably, he served an elected stint as mayor of Carmel, California.

As the decade progressed, the box-office success of his familiar shoot-’em-ups became less of a given, even as he continued to garner critical praise for the personal projects he’d mount in the interim like Bird and White Hunter, Black Heart.

The ’90s saw a commercial renaissance via Unforgiven, which landed him the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars, In the Line of Fire, and The Bridges of Madison County. As the millennium approached, Clint continued with action vehicles, even as they seemed more improbable with every passing year; he’s since concentrated on his work behind the camera, picking his acting spots in age-appropriate roles, and the results largely have met critical and commercial success, as evidenced by Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby (his second Best Picture-Best Director Academy triumph), Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, Gran Torino and Invictus.

Here is a full list of  Clint Eastwood movies currently available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

And now enjoy the master craftsman at work in the theatrical trailer for Gran Torino:

Check out Our picks of Clint Eastwood’s Underrated Films

Cast you vote in this weeks Movie Poll: Who’s Your Favorite Clint Eastwood Cowboy?

  • tony payne

    Another excellent article. Going back to Clint’s roles in early 50′s B pictures, you can spot him as a fighter pilot bombing the giant spider in ‘Tarantula’ an enjoyable entry to the films that featured giant sized insects. My favourite was’Them’.

    • frank pienkosky

      if ever a movie was in need of a remastered. reissue it is “THEM”…stay with the original cast [excellent by the way!], colorize it in a facsimile of early 50′s technicolor, MAKE THE ANTS MORE REALISTIC! and shoot it in 3D!…equip it with both prologue and epilogue [b&w] to set up a sequel…[the US detonated over a hundred nuclear "shots" in the 50's...most in the Nevada desert]….maybe this time they could take out Vegas!…are you listening Joe Lettare?

  • Richard A. Barr

    Just a quick correction. You describe Clint as an “LA Detective”. Not so. Clint was a San Francisco detective. Thought you would want to know.

  • http://www.moviesunlimited.com Jerry Frebowitz

    Good point, Richard. We corrected it and appreciate your pointing it out. We know Harry’s a S.F. cop and why we typed L.A. is a mystery – maybe just a case of T.I. (temporary insanity)?

  • Salvatore R. LaRosa

    Not many know that Clint was not the first choice for Dirty Harry. John Wayne was. Although I love the Duke, Clint was the best choice.

    • Victor Alvarez-Tapia

      They also offered the role to Frank Sinatra.

  • Edwin Johnson,Sr.

    As a senior myself at 71, Clint Eastwood is my hero along with the late Jimmy Stewart. I enjoyed Stewart in “CARBINE WILLIAMS.” and “WINCHESTER 73.”
    These two great actors will be very hard to replace in coming years.

    • Victor Alvarez-Tapia

      Jimmy Stewart is simply a true class act.

  • Catalina from Pasadena

    All of my life I have been swept up totally by the apreciation of listening to and watching stories. It was only recently I found out Citizen Kane really is only about rich people can be just as miserable as we think we are(just because we don’t have LOTS of $). Over time I have seen your work tell other things in addition to the obvious. I apreciate that. Especially since I am finally asking myself why do I behave as if this is food? Maybe y’all are feeding my soul? I’m not sure it’s doing anything for my self esteem. I am hoping the next generation will find SOME new things in life to cherish. Looks, money and sex just aren’t that important anymore! Well actually I was hoping something new would be brought out so I can feel that passing the baton will be a possibility. I’m sure it will happen (it always does). Are politicians and the clergy the only ones who can learn from past mistakes? That sentence sounded silly. Oh well. Thank You!

  • LEN MCKAIN

    THE MOVIE INDUSTRY WAS BLESSED WITH CLINT EASTWOOD.
    I BELIEVE HE IS THE GREATEST ACTOR EVER, AND CAN NEVER BE REPLACED. IT IS A SHAME THAT THE MOVIE INDUSTRY NO LONGER MAKES GOOD FILMS, SO AL WE HAVE IS TO CHERISH MOVIES LIKE THE ONES CLINT MADE.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH CLINT. PLEASE MAKE MORE MOVIES FOR THOSE OF US WHO APPRECIATE YOUR GREAT TALENT

  • jim

    Great Actor and Director.

  • Pingback: Movie Poll: Poll: Who's Your Favorite Clint Eastwood Cowboy? | MovieFanFare

  • Alice

    I “Love” Clint Eastwood- He will always be the greatest actor ever–my HERO forever. Happy Birthday-and may God Bless you ALWAYS !

  • Gael Allers

    We lived on a farm in rural South Africa, near a small town. It was my birthday and I could choose which movie I wanted to see – The Cardinal or The Good The Bad and The Ugly. I wanted The Cardinal but knew husband loved the westerns, so I chose his favourite instead. It was love at first screen sight and has never faded or been affected by the passing years. Thank you Clint for the many hours of entertainment – you remain top of my pops.

  • Joe From South Bend

    Western or Dirty Harry, Squint with Clint you Cannot go wrong!!!

  • Bill Southworth

    Clint Eastwood is 80? I don’t believe it. Hell, he’s in better shape both mentally & Physically than I am. I won’t be 69 until June.

    anyway HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLINT and many more!

  • charlene

    Clint Eastwood will ALWAYS be Rowdy Yates to me.

  • Maryjo

    I thank God for Clint Eastwood, the actor of few words in his movies, and the Director who’s as good as any I’ve ever seen. Who would have guessed that this scrawny TV actor would get to be so darned good ? Irreplaceable. I dips me lid,Clint.
    Happy Birthday.

  • Lindblad

    No one beats The Clint.
    Go ahead for many more years to come, you have always made my day.

  • frank pienkosky

    don’t forget his bit part in “Away All Boats”…..also: note to you Melpaso people…STOP STEALING MY STUFF!

  • http://www.facebook.com/apiazzaj Tony Piazza

    I’ve worked with Mr. Eastwood…had a bit in “Magnum Force”…read my story on WordPress…Author Tony Piazza.

  • Bobbi Ashlock

    Happy Birthday Clint.  I have enjoyed your part in the Rawhide episodes.  You were great, especially when you sang in the one Club, Im not sure of the episode name. 
    Many of your parts were written just for you. I your repore with Gil Favor. You acted well together.
    Have a wonderful birthday.