Calling Clint Eastwood a successful actor would be a colossal understatement. The Fistful of Dollars star is an icon and pop culture institution. It turns out he nearly quit the profession right as his career was starting. Here’s what happened.
Eastwood’s Early Days
William Bradford arrived in America on the Mayflower. 12 generations later, his descendent Eastwood was born in San Fransisco on May 31, 1930. He grew up in California and was not a particularly good student, often getting into trouble. An attempt to enroll in Seattle University was thwarted when Eastwood got drafted into the US Army for the Korean War. An ex-partner revealed he was a lifeguard during the conflict.
Beginning work at Universal Studios, Eastwood fought for bit roles in movies. His trademark of speaking through gritted teeth failed to get much traction. His feature film debut came in 1955 in horror films Tarantula! and Revenge of the Creature. Here he is shooting the titular giant tarantula.
Both roles went uncredited, but he did get his name on the Donald O’Connor comedy Francis in the Navy. He knew these roles were cheesy, but he was getting an ample $75 a week to work. That would translate to about $800 in 2022 money.
In an interview at the Loyola Marymount University School of Film & TV, Eastwood discussed his early career in depth. He said his goal was “to learn what acting was all about in front of the camera.” He was also in theatre classes which helped him to nail auditions.
Soon, however, he was dropped from Universal and had to fend as a freelance actor. His career came to a low in 1958, when he got third billing in Ambush at Cimarron Pass. Eastwood calls it “probably the worst film ever made.”
The western was so bad that Eastwood began to panic about his future. “I went to see it and I saw that film and ‘I said I’m through. I’ve got to go back to school. I’ve got to do something else, I’ve got to get a job of other sorts,’” Eastwood said.
Fate Steps In
Just as Eastwood was getting ready to leave the film industry for good, he said “I accidentally ran into somebody out at CBS on Beverly Boulevard and they were doing a Western called Rawhide. And they cast me as one of the leads.”
Rawhide changed everything for Eastwood. He was a lead actor in a hit series, and his performance turned heads all throughout Hollywood. Soon he was starring in films like Paint Your Wagon, and he began collaborating with Sergio Leonne as the iconic Man With No Name. This role in the Dollars trilogy gave him top billing for the first time and the rest, as they say, is history.
More From Suggest
Marlon Brando Had A Unique Way Of Screening His Phone Calls And It Involves A Chinese Restaurant
‘Great Unifier’ Dolly Parton Speaks To Protecting The Environment In A Way We Can All Understand
Goldie Hawn’s Son Gives Estranged Dad A Shout Out On Instagram