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Sondra Locke Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (10) | Personal Quotes (22) | Salary (3)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 28 May 1944Shelbyville, Tennessee, USA
Birth NameSondra Louise Smith
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Sondra Locke was born May 28, 1944, in Shelbyville, Tennessee, a quiet little town about 60 miles southeast of Nashville. She was the daughter of Raymond Smith, a military man stationed in the area, and Pauline Bayne. Smith departed the scene before Sondra's birth. Her mother quickly wed Alfred Locke, and together they had a son, Donald, in 1946. Sondra's stepfather owned a construction company, and her mother worked in a pencil factory. For the smart, fanciful Locke, "My childhood felt as if I had been dropped off at an extended summer camp for which I was waiting to be picked up." The bright girl loved to read, which puzzled her simple mother, who was always pushing her to spend more time outside. Sondra's happiest moments occurred on weekend visits to the local movie theater.

Locke was a cheerleader and the class valedictorian in junior high. At Shelbyville Central High School, the "classroom was the one place where I felt like I had a chance to prove myself and I continued to excel. I felt safe there and I liked it." Her best friend was classmate Gordon Anderson. He was a fey young man, who shared many of Sondra's fanciful hopes about the future and was her collaborator in devising harmless ways to make their lives in Shelbyville more magical. One of the duo's frequent activities was making home movies with Gordon's Super 8 camera.

When Gordon announced his plans to attend Middle Tennessee State University, Sondra applied for a last-minute scholarship and enrolled there, too. She joined the theatre department and acted in MTSU's productions of "Life with Father" and "The Crucible." At 19, Sondra had a blowup with her mother, left home, and did not return to college. Instead, she worked in Nashville in assorted menial posts at radio station WSM, with occasional work as a model and in commercials.

While in Nashville, Locke began acting in community theater and won a statewide award for best actress in 1965 for her performance in "The Monkey's Paw." Meanwhile, Gordon revealed to her that he was homosexual. He went off to Manhattan to study acting and, for a while, had a lover there. Anderson was talented but unfocused about his theater craft and eventually returned to Tennessee. Because of Locke's spiritual kinship with Anderson, she and Gordon decided to wed. The pair were married in a simple church service in Nashville on September 25, 1967. (According to legal documents, the marriage was never consummated.)

If Gordon was unable to launch his own acting career, he had no such problems igniting Sondra's. He learned that Warner Bros. was holding an open casting call for a young actress to play a key role in the screen adaptation of Carson McCullers's novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968). Anderson helped Locke research the part of Mick, a teenage waif in a southern town who befriends a deaf-mute boarding at the house where she lives. For the audition, Gordon bleached Sondra's eyebrows and bound her bosom so that she would instantly impress casting agents. The ploy worked, and, after several callbacks, Locke was hired. The movie was released in the summer of 1968 and earned respectful reviews from critics, although many filmgoers found the picture too arty. Sondra was Oscar-nominated for her sensitive portrayal.

Next, Sondra moved to Los Angeles, with Gordon in tow. She hoped to parlay her Academy Award nomination into further acting assignments. The big-eyed, petite, wiry blonde found it difficult to win suitable parts, making her accept lesser projects, the most famous of which was Willard (1971), a film about marauding rats. The majority of Locke's on-screen work during the first half of the 1970s consisted stints on television series such as The F.B.I. (1965), Cannon (1971), Kung Fu (1972), and Barnaby Jones (1973). Among the few other theatrical features she made were Cover Me Babe (1970) with Robert Forster, and The Second Coming of Suzanne (1974), a peculiar experimental film in which she played a Christ figure.

Locke's fortunes began to shift in 1975, when she was offered the role of Clint Eastwood's love interest in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). One of the first nights on location, Eastwood asked her to go do dinner with him. On their first night out, they became lovers. Locke recalled, "We were almost living together from the very first days of the film." It was the start of a professional and domestic relationship that gained the actress more attention than ever before and would generate her most notable film work. She and Clint moved into a Bel-Air home, which she spent months renovating and decorating, and which she believed would be hers forever. While her dormant career was revitalized by the success of "Josey Wales," she did not actively pursue film roles and appeared only in Eastwood-related projects. "Clint wanted me to work only with him," said Locke. "He didn't like the idea of me being away from him."

Over the next few years, Locke had two abortions from her relationship with Eastwood. Later, she underwent a tubal ligation to prevent further pregnancies. She continued to spend platonic time with Gordon Anderson, nurtured by their spiritual relationship. Gordon moved in and out of gay relationships, and sometimes he and a boyfriend would socialize with Clint and Sondra, who were quickly becoming one of filmdom's top screen duos. The couple appeared together in the road actioner The Gauntlet (1977), the slapstick comedy Every Which Way But Loose (1978) and its sequel, Any Which Way You Can (1980), the western satire Bronco Billy (1980), and the fourth "Dirty Harry" film, Sudden Impact (1983) - all of which performed outstandingly well at the box office.

By the mid-1980s, Sondra, past 40, was acutely aware that in Hollywood terms her leading lady days were nearly over. She had long been interested in film directing and had observed carefully how Eastwood and others directed the pictures she was in. With his blessing, she found a property that intrigued her and that his production company would package. She developed it into a project for Warner Bros., where Clint had a long-term working relationship. She made Ratboy (1986), but despite good reviews, the film received scant distribution. In retrospect, Locke concluded that her exertion of authority over the project caused her longtime lover to turn away from her, to find someone who was more compliant. (In an unpublicized affair with flight attendant Jacelyn Reeves, Eastwood became the father of two illegitimate children between 1986 and 1988, a betrayal Locke was unaware of.)

The showdown between Sondra and Clint occurred on New Year's Eve 1988 at their holiday home in Sun Valley, Idaho. After an unpleasant confrontation, Eastwood suggested Locke return to Los Angeles. They scarcely saw each other in subsequent months, but as far as Locke was concerned, their relationship was still salvageable, and the next move-communication and reconciliation-was up to him. On April 10, 1989, as she was directing a demanding sequence in a new big-screen thriller, Impulse (1990), Eastwood changed the locks on their house in Bel-Air and ordered her possessions to be boxed and put in storage. A letter addressed to "Mrs. Gordon Anderson" was dropped off on her husband's doorstep, telling her not to come home. When Gordon telephoned Sondra on the set and read her the letter, she fainted dead away in front of the cast and crew. The next day, the tabloids, the legitimate dailies, and the broadcast media were full of the news, competing amongst themselves for details of Clint and Sondra's sensational breakup.

On April 26, 1989, Sondra filed a palimony lawsuit against her domestic partner of 13 years. Her "brazenness" in taking on the film industry's biggest kingpin amazed and shocked Tinseltown and titillated the public. Her action sought unspecified damages and an equal division of the property she and Eastwood had acquired during their relationship. Locke asked for title to the Bel-Air home they had shared and to the Crescent Heights (West Hollywood) place Eastwood had purchased in 1982 (in which Gordon Anderson lived). The closed hearing was held on May 31, 1989, before a private judge. Before any court decision could be made, a private settlement was reached between the parties. Locke received $450,000, the Crescent Heights property, and a $1.5 million multiyear development-directing pact at Warner Bros. In return, she dropped her suit. By then, the fall of 1990, she was happy to end the hassle. (In the past months she had been diagnosed with cancer, undergone a double mastectomy, and endured chemotherapy.)

For the next three years Locke submitted over 30 projects to Warner Bros., but none received a green light to move ahead. Moreover, the studio refused to assign her to direct any of their in-house projects. In the mid-1990s, Sondra discovered that Eastwood had, in fact, arranged to reimburse Warner Bros. for her three-year studio contract-a matter that he had never mentioned to her. It became obvious that the studio's negative professional attitude toward her had little or nothing to do with her directing or project-finding abilities. On June 5, 1995, Locke sued Eastwood a second time, alleging fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. She claimed that Clint's behind-the-scene actions had sent a message "to the film industry and the world at large ... that Locke was not to be taken seriously." (According to Sondra's lawyer, the situation was Clint's "way of terminating the earlier palimony suit.")

While Locke's case was revving up in the courtroom, Eastwood reached an out-of-court settlement with her. The jubilant plaintiff said, "This was never about money. It was about my fighting for my professional rights." According to the victor, "I didn't enjoy it. But sometimes you have to do things you don't enjoy." Locke added, "In this business, people get so accustomed to being abused, they just accept the abuse and say, 'Well, that's just the way it is.' Well, it isn't."

But Locke was not finished. She had a pending action against Warner Bros. for allegedly harming her career by agreeing to the sham movie-directing deal that Eastwood had reputedly engineered. On May 24, 1999, just as jury selection was beginning, the studio reached an out-of-court settlement with Sondra.

In the years following her courtroom saga, Sondra did not direct another movie. She did make a brief return to acting in 1999 with supporting roles in two films that failed to secure a cinematic release. In 2001, she sold her home in the Hollywood Hills and moved to another part of Los Angeles. She had a live-in relationship with one of the physicians who had treated her during her cancer siege.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: khjones-1@mail.com

Spouse (1)

Gordon Anderson (25 September 1967 - present) (separated)

Trivia (10)

Former partner of Clint Eastwood (1975-1989). They never married.
Co-starred with Clint Eastwood in six films: Any Which Way You Can (1980), Bronco Billy (1980), Every Which Way But Loose (1978), The Gauntlet (1977), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and Sudden Impact (1983).
Breast cancer survivor.
Attended Middle Tennessee State University for a year (did not graduate).
Listed as one of the top sex stars of 1969 by Playboy magazine.
Has two parrots.
Locke recently sold her home in L.A. (at a considerable profit), and bought a much larger estate in the Hollywood Hills where she resides with her companion of the last 10 years, Scott Cunneen, a director of surgery at Cedars Sinai Hospital. They have since gone their separate ways.
After starring in Willard (1971), about a boy who trains rats, she directed and starred in Ratboy (1986), about a boy who is half rat.
Blake Edwards offered her the role of Caroline in City Heat (1984), but casting fell through when Eastwood became attached to the project, reportedly because the Warner Brothers studio advised him not to make any more films with her. Madeline Kahn got the part.
Published her autobiography, "The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly: A Hollywood Journey"

Personal Quotes (22)

In acting, you're subject to what everyone else does to you: the light someone else puts on you, the pace someone else sets for the scene, how someone else cuts you together, what they throw away and what they keep. Pretty soon you realize, 'This is great, but there must be something a little more.'
No matter how big actors get, they always somehow think, 'Today is it -- tomorrow everybody's going to wake up and hate me.'
As an actor, if there's a good role you can take it for the role's sake and not worry about the fact that the whole story doesn't seem to work. The actor won't get the blame for it. You'll do a good job and they'll say, 'The story stinks, but Sondra Locke was good in the part of whatever.' I look on acting as a great vacation now. You work a few weeks, get paid a lot of money and everyone pampers and takes care of you.
Everyone always wants to type you. With me, I started out as a vulnerable waif and for many years that's all anyone ever wanted me to play.
I've had some great parts, it's just that you're always looking for something that will take you in a different direction. People only see you in those boxes you've been most recently seen in. That way, they don't have to think or be creative.
I never felt at home in Tennessee. I felt I'd been parachuted out at the wrong spot somehow.
Success is just a drop in the bucket, a grain of sand on the beach.
Externals don't throw me. I'm like a turtle. If I don't like the going, I just pull my head in.
I am a romantic. I want to cry when I throw out my Christmas tree, and I have a lot of feelings about magic and fantasy. I believe in elves and giants. I believe that fairy tales are nothing more than news reports of what once happened.
I really get livid when somebody calls me Sandra or Sandy. Actually, my parents named me Sondra rather than Sandra so that people would not call me Sandy. Almost everything has a contradiction through common usage. Names have associations. You know, people look at their names.
[on marrying Gordon Anderson] It seemed like a natural thing to do.
[on the impact of her film debut] I was afraid Heart had put me into some kind of sexual oblivion. I played a practically prepuberty tomboy, and some producers thought I was a boy.
[1969] Sometimes, just sometimes, I want desperately to be a director.
[1977] People associate strength with masculinity. In this age of action movies specializing in masculine virtues, it's very difficult for an actress to play a strong woman. In the old days, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis managed to be strong and feminine simultaneously. So did Irene Dunne. The best example of all, perhaps, was Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara. They dominated the screen, but not the leading man. Actually, a strong woman adds to the masculinity of the man she is playing opposite. Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy played powerful characters to their mutual advantage. Claudette Colbert didn't dominate Clark Gable in It Happened One Night (1934). Yet she played a very strong woman. You need a strong and talented man to begin with if you hope to maintain your femininity. But I think a good many leading men confuse masculinity and strength. They're insecure about women's roles that accentuate strength. An actress never has to be worried about bowling over an actor like Clint Eastwood who is as secure in his masculinity as any man I've ever known.
I'd been typed as the sensitive thing, the little flower that somebody is always being mean to. So The Gauntlet (1977) was entirely different. I have a part that is equal to Clint's and, in a way, I am stronger than he is. So I think it could open up a lot of doors for me.
I think the reason actresses are taking a back seat to actors is that they're putting the wrong women on screen. They seem to put a new fashion model in a starring role every year. And being simply pretty isn't enough. It's boring. Using models in place of actresses implies that women have nothing to contribute to the screen. Acting is a profession and a special talent is involved. Films have moved away from pretty boys to actors with interesting faces. It's time they did the same thing with actresses.
[on directing Ratboy (1986)] There were many times when I said to myself, "why did I have to pick a story like this?". If I wanted to direct, why not go out and find a Top Gun (1986) and make some money? You know, something sensible. I felt I had to go for it. For me, the story had the heart of a fairy tale and the head of a morality play. I had the sense of it owning me, in some way. It swept me off with it. Then naturally, I showed it to Clint to get his opinion.
My personality, or persona or whatever, is really more in line with directing. If I had seen more women's names on the credits when I was a child - you know, "directed by Gladys Hooper" - I think I might have drifted more in that direction. As an actor, you take on the role of the child. You follow orders, and people are there to take care of you and pamper you. As the director, you have to be the parent.
[on Clint Eastwood] I discovered he was a liar and a cheat who was leading a double, no, a triple if not a quadruple life, and who was terrified of being found out.
[on her breakup with Clint Eastwood] He had every right, if he didn't love me, to end the relationship, but he didn't have the right to ... treat me that way. That's where the line is drawn with Clint. He has all the rights and you have none, across the board, no matter the situation.
[1996, on the news of Clint Eastwood's marriage to Dina Eastwood] The only thing that's sad is that there are several women in his life who are the mothers of his children, and he chose to marry one who is not.
Naturally, there are people at first glance who won't understand what [my] book is. They'll say, "Why is she still talking about Clint? Why doesn't she get over it?". I think somehow having it physically on the pages across the room from me does say it's the end of a chapter. I feel healed within myself.

Salary (3)

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) $4,200
Any Which Way You Can (1980) $100,000
Sudden Impact (1983) $350,000

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