Sondra Locke, an Academy Award nominated actress, and a long-time lover of Clint Eastwood, has died at the age of 74 following a battle with breast and bone cancer, this after having undergone a double mastectomy in 1990.
Born Sandra Louise Anderson on May 28, 1944 in Shelbyville, Tennessee, this former cheerleader and junior high valedictorian had her first experience in front of the camera as a model for the fashion page of The Tennessean. Her big break came when she was cast as Mick Kelly in the 1968 film adaptation of the Caron McCuller novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (starring opposite Alan Arkin). Critically acclaimed in the part, she found herself nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Supporting Actress as well as for two Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Newcomer.
For the first half of the 1970s, she alternated between additional film roles and television guest appearances. Things changed in 1975 when she was cast as Clint Eastwood’s love interest in The Outlaw Josey Wales. A love affair began between the two of them in real life, which saw her appearing pretty exclusively in his films, among them The Gauntlet, Every Which Way but Loose and its sequel, Any Which Way You Can; Bronco Billy, and the Dirty Harry film Sudden Impact.
Things seemed to change for her career wise in 1986 when she made her directorial debut on the film Ratboy, though it wasn’t long before she realized that this also marked a serious turning point in her relationship with Eastwood.
“Well, just to be completely open about it,” she related to comingsoon.net, “from the get-go, it was never a requirement from Warner Bros that Clint’s company go on as producer. I begged Clint not to be involved from the get-go, because I just felt that our personal relationship was such that somehow there was going to be a problem. And directors and producers are at odds a lot and in this case it was compounded by the fact that in hindsight and now, that it become clear to me, I believe, that he really did not want me to direct. The dynamic of our relationship entirely shifted. He had been the director and I was the actor. You know, he was the one in charge. And I think that he just did not want me to direct. And I said to him, ’You know, it really would not be in my best interest, I think, if you come on.’ ‘Well, I’m not gonna put my name on it!’ And of course that was rather a joke, cause he put [his company] Malpaso on there and that is like putting his name on it. So, not only did he put his name on it, but then he felt that he was in a position to tell me what to do all the time. I’m a great collaborator. I really am. I will steal anyone’s idea if it is a good one [laughs]. But, I don’t like being treated like a child. And to be told things like, that I have to do their way or the highway!”
Things went south between them, despite the fact they had been living together from 1975 until 1989. While she was shooting the film Impulse, which was released in 1990, Eastwood had the locks on their Bel-Air home changed and transferred all of her possessions into storage. Sondra filed a palimony suit against him, which a year later was settled when Eastwood arranged a development deal for her as director at Warner Bros. However, in 1995 she filed a new suit, claiming that the deal was a false one; that every one of her ideas was turned down in an attempt to keep her from working. This was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money, and four years later she sued Warner Bros for the same reason and that, too, was settled out of court.
Between all this, she did find some happiness, falling in love with one of her surgeons, Scott Cunneen, in 1991. But it was obvious that her falling out with Eastwood was something that remained with her — and not because she was still in love with him.
“Most damaging to my future was the fallout with Eastwood,” she told thewandrinstar several years ago, “and this was twofold. First, I had worked with him exclusively for so many years that I had not developed a network outside of him and WB, his home studio. Second, and most important, was that his obvious enmity toward me had a surefire ‘blackball’ effect. He didn’t even have to articulate that he didn’t want anyone working with me. They understood the situation. He was a very powerful figure in town and no one wanted to get on his bad side. Why bother? Why get involved? I will always believe that I had many fans in high places, but they were not willing to put themselves on the line. That is very expected in Hollywood.”