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Sondra Locke Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (21) | Personal Quotes (28) | 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. 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. After completing her freshman year, Sondra had a blowup with her mother, left home, and did not return to college. Instead, she worked in Nashville in the promotion department for WSM-TV, with occasional work as a model and in commercials. While in Nashville, Locke began acting in the community theater group Circle Players Inc. 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 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, bound her bosom and carefully fixed her hair, makeup and outfit 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 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 an unpublicized affair with stewardess Jacelyn Reeves, Eastwood became the father of two children born in 1986 and 1988, in Monterey - an "evil 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 Clint and I 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 telephoned 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 surgeon 17 years her junior who had treated her during her cancer siege. She has since split up with him.

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

Spouse (1)

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

Trivia (21)

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 in Murfreesboro, TN for two semesters.
Voted "Duchess of Studiousness" in senior year of high school. Her grade average was 97.72.
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.
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.
Posed for Playboy magazine's "Sex Stars of 1969" issue in a semi-nude layout that was meant to change her Plain Jane image, and wrote in her memoir that she still receives those photographs in fan mail for her autograph and cringes when she sees them.
Turned down Barbara Hershey's role in Last Summer (1969).
Used to be very good friends with Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Release of her autobiography, "The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly: A Hollywood Journey". [November 1997]
Blake Edwards promised her one of the two female leads in City Heat (1984) (ultimately played by Jane Alexander and Madeline Kahn) during pre-production when Burt Reynolds had signed on but the role of the other leading man was yet to be filled. She later asserted that Edwards was using her just to get to Clint Eastwood who'd already seen the script and turned it down, because once Eastwood reconsidered and agreed to star in the film, Edwards dropped the idea of casting Locke and gave the roles to Julie Andrews and Marsha Mason. (Mason left due to creative differences, and the casting of Andrews fell through because Reynolds had not gotten along with her while making The Man Who Loved Women (1983) and didn't want to repeat the experience.).
Born on the exact same day as Rudy Giuliani, Gladys Knight, Jean-Pierre Léaud and Billy Vera.
Campaigned for role of Pookie Adams in The Sterile Cuckoo (1969) which was given to Liza Minnelli instead.
Was the original choice to play the titular character in Carrie (1976). The part went to Sissy Spacek after Locke declined to do a screen test.
Former agent is Leonard Hirshan.
Stage credits before her film career include "The Crucible," "The Glass Menagerie," "The Innocents," "Life with Father," "The Monkey's Paw," "Oh Dad, Poor Dad," "Tiger at the Gates" and "A Thousand Clowns.".
Lost custody of her parrot Putty in the breakup with Clint, who renamed him Paco.
The film Our Very Own (2005), set in 1978 in Locke's hometown of Shelbyville, Tn., focuses on a group of teens whose dreams of a better life have been inspired by the actress's Hollywood success.
Even though she played the leading female role in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968), during Oscar season Warner Brothers decided they would suggest that voters consider her for Best Supporting Actress instead of Best Actress, hoping she'd have a better chance of winning. She lost the award anyway to Ruth Gordon (for Rosemary's Baby (1968)) who went on to co-star with Locke and Manis the Orangutan in the Which Way movies.
Offered the main role in Emmy-winning TV film My Sweet Charlie (1970) but turned it down.

Personal Quotes (28)

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.
[1968] I'm very ambitious. I'm Mount Vesuvius - with a cork in my head. I'm ready to burst. But I'm not so anxious that I'll take the first opportunity that comes along. I'm going to wait for a golden part to come along before I take it. If not golden, at least silver.
[1978] I'm not really very ambitious or very aggressive. I won't play politics or games to get roles. And so I really work very seldom. I think I've done ten pictures in the ten years that I've been in Hollywood. Actually, I don't mind not working, but I hate doing poor material, so I'd rather not work than do something I don't like.
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.
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.
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.
A real marriage doesn't need those papers. But a real breakup does.
I'll never have to work again. I don't know what I'm going to do. But I think I want to work. Clint said, 'I will never settle. I will take you to the Supreme Court.' But I stuck with it. I battled against huge odds. I feel vindicated.
[her reaction to finding out Clint Eastwood sired other women's children while still involved with her] I just thought, 'Oh my God!'. Either he changed from white to black or I had been living with somebody I didn't even know.
Clint never really gave direction to the actors, certainly not to me. I was very much on my own. I always wondered how much better my performances might have been, had I had a director who really worked with me. Certainly Clint's method of printing the first or second take didn't give me time to find all the texture of the moment.
[if a film were made about her life story] I honestly hope that it will not be made, because I fear it could fall into hands that would turn it into something ordinary, like some awful movie for television. I haven't given thought to who might possibly make a good film of it. I think it's best left as a part of my book, although so many people say that it should be a film. Unfortunately Hollywood would probably only be interested in exploiting the Clint section of the book.
[regarding suppression of her autobiography] I was shut out of most venues to promote the book, in particular the networks. Remember, Bob Daly (president of WB) had, at one time, run CBS. The influence was there. I was told by my publisher that Oprah Winfrey wanted me to come on her show. As it was being scheduled, I was suddenly canceled and Clint was set to appear on the show instead. At that time, and even rarely today, Clint had almost never appeared on such a talk show. The gay magazine The Advocate was set to do a big article on my book, which was a natural because of Gordon being gay. Suddenly Clint was giving them an interview and appearing on the cover and I was out ENTIRELY. Why could they not have run both pieces if indeed it was an innocent coincidence? Liz Smith, a very highly regarded and read New York columnist, wrote a supportive rave review about my book - and me - in her column. When her column appeared in the L.A. Times, the review and all references to my book were excised from it. The rest of her column was intact. Warner Brothers had some sort of association with L.A. Times. I was told at the time what the connection was, but have forgotten. Entertainment Weekly, a very well read entertainment magazine, also gave my book a rave review. It was pulled and a bad review appeared instead. I am fairly certain that Warner Brothers had some financial involvement with Entertainment Weekly - perhaps they even owned it, I can't recall.
Richard Schickel has made a living off writing puff pieces and documentary films about Clint. As I know those times and that subject well, I know Schickel's books are full of misstatements and downright fabrication, not only about me but others. He glorifies, practically deifies, Clint.
I believe Clint knows who he is; he just doesn't LIKE who he is. I do believe that Clint loved me as much as he is capable of love, and in the first 8 or so years together he really WANTED to be the man he knew I saw in him. I think he tried very hard, but eventually one's nature cannot change.
I have many flaws, not the least of which is thinking too much of the other person's feelings and not enough of my own. Because of this, I try to please too much. I hate conflict and so I avoid it until it is almost too late and then I have the battle of a lifetime. I am a terrible worrier. I have to some degree overcome this one, because I learned that the things we worry about are rarely the things that actually happen. It's always something we never thought would or could happen - like what Clint did. Also, I had no breast cancer in my family so I didn't worry about that, and of course it did happen to me.
[from a 2013 interview] I still get scripts sent to me, but nothing extraordinary enough to motivate me to try and overcome all the obstacles to get the films made. And yet, I would say that today I feel unfinished professionally, both as actor and director. For many years I fantasized that a brave director would come along and offer me a role I couldn't refuse, a role that would be as wonderful as the one that began my career. And, even more so, I fantasized about the perfect little quirky script with money attached that I would want to direct. Of course, neither has happened. At first, I felt very displaced, as if I had lost my identity. I had worked making films my entire adult life. It was work that I loved. It was my work as well as my pleasure. I was not a person who had other hobbies. Eventually I came to find the peace and beauty in my everyday life - my home, my gardens, my pets - and was able to walk away.
I am reconciled that I will probably not work again, but if I do it will be something 'meant to be'.

Salary (3)

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

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