Clint Eastwood is an iconic Hollywood actor. He is an undisputed genius in the entertainment industry, working his magic both in front of and behind the camera. He has received numerous awards, including Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and Screen Actor’s Guild Awards.
His incredible success is even more impressive when you look back at his early years. He grew up during the Great Depression and was no stranger to hard work. He never had a dream of becoming an actor— it sort of just fell in his lap. Before his big break, he was a manual laborer, working with his hands in a number of tough jobs.
Clint Eastwood: Growing up during the Great Depression
Clint Eastwood was born in California in 1930, at the start of the Great Depression. Growing up during that time wasn’t easy–the family moved around often so that Eastwood’s parents could find work. That kind of lifestyle is difficult for anyone, making it impossible to put down roots anywhere.
It’s hard for children to make friends when they are always moving. Eastwood was enrolled at eight different grammar schools before the family was finally able to settle down.
At that point, Eastwood was almost a teen. He attended Piedmont High School, the same school where his parents met. While there, Eastwood played the lead in a production that his English class put on for the school. Ironically, he hated the experience so much that he swore it was the end of his acting career…
Unfortunately, Eastwood was working so much outside of school that he didn’t have a lot of time to study. His grades were suffering and his parents decided to transfer him to a technical school. He spent his senior year at Oakland Technical High School, where his parents thought studying a trade might keep his interest.
He worked several jobs before his acting career took off
Eastwood graduated from Oakland Technical High School in 1949. He wasn’t the best student and had always preferred working with his hands over any kind of studying. He worked a number of manual labor jobs while in school and after graduating, including logging and truck driving.
In 1950, the Korean War began, and Eastwood was drafted. He was stationed at Fort Ord and worked as a swimming instructor. He was discharged in 1953 and married Maggie Johnson. Johnson was a model, and the couple had two children together. They were married for more than 30 years, despite Eastwood’s relationships (and children) with other women during that time.
In 1955, Eastwood snagged a 40-week contract with Universal Studios. He appeared in three monster movies — Revenge of the Creature, Tarantula, and Francis in the Navy. After his contract was up, Eastwood had a few small television roles, but mainly returned to working several manual labor jobs. According to Stacker, he paid his bills by digging swimming pools and driving garbage trucks.
He’s 90 years old and still going strong…
During his time digging swimming pools, Eastwood had a chance encounter that resulted in what became his big break. He was cast in the CBS series Rawhide, a Western following the lives of a trail boss of a cattle drive, and his assistant. Eastwood played the role of Rowdy Yates, the trail boss’s assistant. The series ran for eight seasons.
Eastwood’s portrayal of Yates earned him quick recognition. He had a natural talent for acting and was instantly believable as a young cowboy. He showed incredible growth as his character matured throughout the course of the series and was soon asked to star in a film.
In 1964, Eastwood became the iconic “Man with No Name.” After the role had been turned down by Charles Bronson and James Coburn, Italian director Sergio Leone cast Eastwood in his first “spaghetti Western.” A Fistful of Dollars turned Eastwood into a star overnight, and he starred in two more sequels to the popular film.
Eastwood became unstoppable after that. He went on to star in numerous westerns and action flicks, bringing iconic characters to life and becoming the world’s most widely recognized big-screen cowboy. He’s also proven himself extremely talented behind the camera. He’s directed numerous blockbuster films, including Mystic River, Unforgiven, and The Bridges of Madison County.
The talented actor is now 90 years old, and still working in the entertainment industry. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he is directing and starring in an upcoming film called Cry Macho, a story about a washed-up rodeo star. The film is set to release in October 2021.