|Date of Birth||28 May 1944, Shelbyville, Tennessee, USA|
|Birth Name||Sondra 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. Later, her mother wed Alfred Locke, and together they had a son, Donald, in 1946. Sondra's stepfather was a carpenter, 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 in junior high and graduated as valedictorian of her eighth grade class in 1958. 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 attended Middle Tennessee State University in the fall of 1962, Sondra enrolled there, too. (With her school record, she could have had a scholarship to Vassar or Radcliffe.) After completing her first year of studies, 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. 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 unconventional couple were married in a simple church service in Nashville on September 25, 1967. (Reputedly, 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 suicidal deaf-mute (played by Alan Arkin) boarding at the house where she lives. For the audition, Gordon bleached her eyebrows and bound her bosom so that she would instantly impress casting agents. The ploy worked, and, after several callbacks, Locke - who lied about her age to seem younger - 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 screen appearances during the first half of the 1970s were on episodic television, including The F.B.I. (1965), Cannon (1971), Kung Fu (1972) and Barnaby Jones (1973). Among the few other theatrical motion pictures she made were Cover Me Babe (1970) (aka "Run Shadow Run") alongside Robert Forster and The Second Coming of Suzanne (1974), a peculiar experimental film co-starring Richard Dreyfuss, in which she played a Christ figure.
Her fortunes began to shift in 1975, when she was offered the role of Clint Eastwood's love interest in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). Off-screen, the two quickly became an item, Sondra recalling, "We were almost living together from the very first days of the film." She was 14 years younger and a foot shorter than the serially womanizing megastar, who confided he'd never been in love before and would boast that she made him monogamous. Despite the fact that her dormant career was now revitalized, the actress ceased from pursuing film roles independently in order to attend to wifely duties and appeared on the big screen exclusively in Eastwood-related projects, with one minor exception (The Shadow of Chikara (1977), shot in Arkansas in 1976 during the honeymoon period of their relationship). "Clint wanted me to work only with him," she said. "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. In 1979, she underwent a tubal ligation to prevent further pregnancies. She and Clint moved into a Bel-Air home, which she spent months renovating and decorating, and which she believed would be hers forever. She continued to spend platonic time with Gordon Anderson, whom she never divorced, 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. As for the professional side of things, the paramours co-starred 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 and cemented them as one of filmdom's top on-screen duos.
During this period, Sondra took a few TV roles when Clint was starring in a movie that had no part for her to play (such as Escape from Alcatraz (1979) or Firefox (1982)). The first time she worked apart from him for any length of time since 1976 was in Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story (1982), a CBS biopic Rosemary Clooney asked her to do on the strength of her performance in "Bronco Billy." She also made an appearance on the anthology series Tales of the Unexpected (1979), but for the most part found herself sitting on the sidelines waiting for Eastwood to cast her in something.
By the mid-1980s, Sondra, over 40, was acutely aware that in Hollywood terms her leading lady days were nearly finished. 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 a surreptitious affair with stewardess Jacelyn Reeves, Eastwood became the father of two children born in 1986 and 1988, in Monterey - a betrayal Locke was unaware of.)
The showdown between Sondra and Clint occurred on December 29, 1988 in Sun Valley, Idaho. After an unpleasant confrontation, Eastwood suggested Locke return to Los Angeles. She sensed their relationship had passed a point of reconciliation, a fact confirmed when she scarcely saw Eastwood in subsequent months and when industry friends they knew in common shunned her. As she admitted later, "In my head I guess I knew it was over, but in my heart we were still not severed." On April 10, 1989, as she was directing a demanding sequence in a new big-screen thriller, Impulse (1990), Eastwood had the locks changed on the couple's Bel-Air home 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, imperatively telling her not to come home. When Gordon telephone Sondra on the set and read her the letter, she fainted dead away in front of the cast and crew.
On April 26, 1989, Sondra filed a palimony lawsuit against her domestic partner of 13 years. Her "brazenness" in taking on the powerful Eastwood 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 purportedly 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 with supporting roles in the independent features The Prophet's Game (2000) and Clean and Narrow (1999), both of which 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 Scott Cunneen, a physician 17 years her junior who had treated her during her cancer siege.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Gordon Anderson||(25 September 1967 - present) (separated)|
Personal Quotes (28)
|The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968)||$4,200|
|Any Which Way You Can (1980)||$100,000 + % net profits|
|Sudden Impact (1983)||$350,000|