As Dirty Harry, The Man With No Name, and an angry old grump who wants people off his lawn, Clint Eastwood has evoked a grizzled macho-ism on screen for decades. His many memorable roles and time spent behind the camera as a director placed Eastwood solidly into the history books of Hollywood. While manly men have emerged from movies, Eastwood has something macho stars like Burt Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or even John Wayne couldn't match. He's extremely stubborn about doing things his own way, and because he's created such a legacy for himself, he can get away with it. In the audience's mind, Eastwood will always be a tough guy. Interestingly enough, he's had enough macho experiences off-screen to make his screen persona legit.
Eastwood came up through Hollywood slowly, earning his first role in Revenge of the Creature before finally finding his big break with the 1959 television series, Rawhide. In 1964, he accepted a role in Sergio Leone's Italian western A Fistful of Dollars, and its international success made him a star. In the 1970s, Eastwood began turning his attention to directing, and eventually found even more success and critical acclaim behind the camera. While Eastwood's macho-ism has morphed as he aged, he will always be one of Hollywood's most famous manly men, with his characteristic squint and gravelly voice inspiring fans for years to come. What's behind the man audiences see on screen, however, is just as macho.
He's Spent Hundreds Of Hours Flying His Own Helicopter AroundPhoto: Firefox/Warner Bros.
While working on Paint Your Wagon in Oregon in 1969, Eastwood traveled to the set each day in a helicopter. Spending so much time in the aircraft led Eastwood to develop an interest in flying, and he managed to convince the pilot to let him take the controls. Despite his interest, other projects and opportunities kept Eastwood from working toward earning a pilot license, something he eventually came to regret. In the 1990s, Eastwood met helicopter pilot and movie aerial coordinator Craig Hosking who taught him to fly during breaks in their separate filming schedules. Once Hosking felt Eastwood had logged enough hours, he allowed him to fly solo, and Eastwood earned his pilot license. He purchased a Aerospatiale AStar helicopter for himself at an air show in Paris and has since flown several hundred hours. "...I've seen Clint choose to take the helicopter somewhere - even on long trips - when he could have taken a corporate jet," Hosking remembered.
Eastwood claims to love the freedom the helicopter brings him. "You can go and stop places where you normally wouldn't go," he said. "I can land on a friend's property and have lunch, or stop in little meadows and take a walk or run on the way to somewhere." He also said he enjoyed the anonymity of flying solo with no one on the ground being able to identify the celebrity flying over their heads. Despite the macho persona Eastwood built up over his career and the fact he's able to fly his own personal helicopter with ease, the delicate details of the world he witnesses from the pilot seat bring him joy. "...There's nothing prettier than flying low over the spring wildflowers when they're in bloom," he said.
He Was A Steelworker And A LumberjackPhoto: A Fistful of Dollars/MGM
Eastwood worked a number of physical labor jobs before making his break in Hollywood, and in addition to working in a Seattle steel mill and digging swimming pools, he spent some time working as a logger. Although it was hard, dangerous work, he enjoyed being outdoors among the trees and mountains of Oregon. He claimed it wasn't a career option and didn't stay at the job long, but originally accepted the job for the pay. "I was earning good bachelor money, but mentally I was still drifting. I had an idea I wasn't going to settle for tree-felling or sawmilling as my life's work, but the way wasn't too clear..."
Eastwood may also have decided to move on from the dangerous work since he almost perished on the job. "I heard a shout and looked up and saw the crane driver and I hadn't quite got in organized," he remembered. "A nasty load of giant logs hung suspended over my head. I don't think I've reacted faster in my life. Yet even as I started to run, down came the logs. Any one of them could have crushed the life out of me. I just barely jumped clear..."
He Worked As A Bouncer At A Military Officers' Club
While serving in the military, Eastwood was stationed at Ford Ord near Carmel, CA, and worked as a swim instructor at the camp's swimming pool. "So long as I kept my nose clean and ran the place efficiently, I was on my own," he recalled. "It was a real sweet set up. Come 6 pm I'd knock off and go into Carmel and meet some girl." In order to make a little more money, Eastwood secretly took a night job off the base working for the Spreckles Sugar Company.
"What I hadn't reckoned on was I'd need a little sleep now and then. After four months I was the weariest swimming instructor in the army. I found myself falling asleep in the pool and drinking more water than was good for me," he said. Realizing he needed a change, Eastwood quit his instructor job and found work as a bouncer at the nearby junior non-commissioned officers' club. "It could be fairly wild in there," he remembered. "Maybe six or seven girls and 150 guys! The men weren't supposed to drink anything but beer, which was free, but a few of the smart guys would smuggle in some hard liquor and mix it in the beer. And that caused trouble. I had to bounce quite a few of them. Being big was a help."
He Sang A Country Hit With Merle HaggardPhoto: Paint Your Wagon/Paramount
Among the many roles Eastwood has stepped into throughout his life, musician is one of them. In addition to composing the scores of several of his films and starring in the western musical Paint Your Wagon, he has enjoyed a singing career for decades. Although anyone who's familiar with Eastwood's gravelly voice might immediately scoff at the idea of him holding a tune, Eastwood forged ahead with a music career even when others recommended he quit.
He created several compilation albums, a handful of singles, and recorded an album for the show that launched his acting career, Rawhide. In 1980, Eastwood teamed up with country legend Merle Haggard to create "Bar Room Buddies," a song in which Haggard sings the high notes while Eastwood "pours the beers." The song became a No. 1 hit on the Hot Country Singles chart, as well as Eastwood's biggest hit.