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Clint Eastwood the egomaniac practices infidelity as an overrated director, according to author Patrick McGilligan. Clint Eastwood's children, 7 total, from Clint Eastwood's wives (2 de facto but many others he impregnated) have made him a film icon. Gran Torino, one of his more recent movies, scored in the top of IMDB. Million Dollar Baby and his Dirty Harry movies and Mystic River were better films.

Home / Egomania Case Studies  /
Egomania Case Studies:  Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood youngClint Eastwood old

Has Clint's ego mellowed with age and (at least) seven different children with four different girls?

If I asked who amongst us had never sampled a Coca Cola, the answer would be the same as if I'd asked who had never seen a Clint Eastwood movie. 

While I wouldn't call myself a diehard Clint fan, I have seen all his spaghetti westerns, his Dirty Harry movies, and most of the recent work he's done after Unforgiven was released in 1993.  Clint's post-Unforgiven career marked a significant rise up the food chain from the majority of turkeys he appeared in throughout the 1980's and early 1990's.   The press and his fans presently feel he can do no wrong.  His movie, Gran Torino, the last Eastwood claims he'll ever appear in as an actor, was the most successful opening of any Clint Eastwood movie ever.  Not bad for a man pushing 80.

Gran Torino seems to have its heart in the right place. It's about a septuagenarian Asian-hating Korean war veteran who befriends a young Hmong trying to steal his 1972 Gran Torino, but it's not a great movie, even if Clint-lovers seem to feel differently.  On IMDB, Gran Torino, as of this writing, is ranked 89th by voters, ahead of Eastwood's Oscar winning Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby.   But I'm sure even Clint himself would agree Gran Torino doesn't deserve, on its merits, to be in IMDB's top 250 list of all films ever made or at least higher ranked than two of his Academy Award generating films. 

Gran Torino's script could've used a polish and the supporting actors, mostly Hmongs with no prior acting experience, are terrible.  Clint handicapped himself by trying to hire real Hmongs. The pool of talented Hmong thespians who speak fluent English would fit into the backseat of my car.  It's called acting for a reason.  Either the script could've been rewritten to involve some other Asian ethnic group for which talented actors were available or else the Hmong element could've remained but with others Asians playing those Hmongs.   Hollywood has Koreans play Japanese or Serbs play Russians all the time. 

The unconvincing acting among the youth of Gran Torino stood out all the more when the following day, I watched Slumdog Millionaire and saw the younger kids in that movie run laps around the Torino youth.  Now how can this be?  Clint's been an actor for 50 years and a director for almost 40.  With this much experience in front of and behind the camera, how could Clint the auteur turn in a film with such pathetic acting? 

I have a theory why.  Most of you aren't going to want to hear it.  It's because he's an overrated director.    Before you chastise me for besmirching the reputation of a screen icon and legend the majority seemingly adore enough to rate his latest movie #89 of all movies ever made, hear me out first. 

As I see it, Gran Torino exposes Clint's weaknesses.  Clint's talent is in finding scripts movie reviewers gush over.   If he's handed The Bridges Over Madison County, Mystic River, or Unforgiven and hires accomplished actors like Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Sean Penn, and Gene Hackman,  the actors can deliver their top class performances.  Clint stays out of the way and lets the actors accomplishments win him the awards and nominations.  But his one-take, minimally supervised directing approach only works when the actors already know how to act.  The Torino actors knew as much about acting as I do about tap dancing, and it showed. 

There's very little negative said about Clint.   That could be because the guy is a saint or, more probably, because he surrounds himself with a wall of publicity, further helped because it's considered poor taste to slam an old man who's enjoying a career resurgence when most screen professionals are retired on a golf course.  

If you examine a list of all the biographies about Clint, it's hard to find an author who's not riding on the Clint bandwagon.   One of the latest, Clint: The Billion Dollar Man, is written by someone Clint personally endorses.  Another, Clint Eastwood:  A Biography,  is authored by a man who was basically an employee and buddy of Clint's during the research process.  Those hardly make for impartial biographies.  Just one biography,  Clint: The Life And Legend by Patrick McGilligan, stands out for not being part of the universal Clint choir.  McGilligan documents Clint's philandering, unethical business dealings in which friends were screwed out of profits, his cowardly avoidance of confrontation, and his overrated directing style.   Clint later sued McGilligan and the book's publisher, St. Martin's Press, for $10m. 

I have read McGilligan's book and it does not paint a pretty portrait of Clint.  Most of the reviewers at Amazon are critical of McGilligan's book, simply because the book is critical of their hero.    They accuse McGilligan of having an axe to grind with Clint.   Apparently, if a book is written depicting Clint as anything but a hero, the author doesn't know what he's talking about.  And all along I thought a legitimate biographer's job was to unveil the real person behind the image, whatever dark sides may be lurking.

Let us try to be as impartial as we can.  If McGilligan were pulling facts out of thin air, and Clint's army of ultra expensive lawyers could have disproved McGilligan's claims, don't you think the book would've been pulled from the presses and Clint awarded a hefty settlement from St. Martin's?  Yet the judge allowed the book to continue being sold.  McGilligan was only ordered to remove passages that state Clint physically abused his first wife after the person who cited these instances, former Clint friend Fritz Manes, recanted his statements.  

The way it looks to me is that Clint knew the book was, more or less, true but sued anyway.  The suit was a strategic, not a financial, move.   More people would've read the news coverage than the book itself.  The suit was a way for Clint to weigh in that the book should be discounted.  So perhaps, just perhaps, the book has a large degree of truth within it, and Clint is also overrated as a person and not just as a director. 

Here is a man who lost his virginity at age 14, says he loved and scored with the ladies, and yet inexplicably got married at age 23 to a woman, Maggie, he'd known for only 6 months.   I'm aware that there was more pressure on a man to get married and at younger ages back in 1953.  But Clint, if the biographical data is accurate, was not your typical accountancy or pre-med student.  He did a lot of odd jobs and lived in a lot of different places and probably picked up a lot of different women.  Why get married so young?   Why stand in the way of the non-stop fun?  He was never faithful to his first wife, never even attempted to be, and didn't have children with her the first fifteen years they were married.  Meanwhile, he impregnated an actress on the set of his Rawhide TV series.  This gained Clint entry into a unique club:   becoming a first-time father while married but with the mother being someone other than his spouse.  Clint must've been ahead of his time.   Even in the early twenty-first century, it's common to have a child out of wedlock, but not while you're married to someone else.   

The Man With No Shame went on to win the James Brolin "Been There, Done That" Award:  he both balled Brolin's first wife Jane while James Brolin was wedded to her and also test drove Barbra Streisand before Mr. Brolin ever tied the knot with her. 

Clint became involved in a high profile relationship with his co-star Sandra Locke in the late 1970's while still married to his wife.   She claims she aborted two of Clint's babies and eventually got sterilized at Clint's insistence as Clint concurrently impregnated an airline hostess, twice, who wasn't into abortions.  Locke got officially ousted for Clint's next squeeze, Frances Fisher, whom he also wound up impregnating.  Fisher went the same way as Locke once Clint met a newscaster half his age.  At 66, he married her and quickly impregnated her -- or possibly impregnated her, then married her.   She bore Clint's last (official) child less than nine months after they were married.   

  Ten Different Children With Five Different Girls lyrics

 How many children do you really have, Clint?  Ten Different Children With Five Different Girls

Today, Clint's official paternity count is seven different children with four different girls.  I entitled my ode to Clint Ten Different Children With Five Different Girls just in case a few were overlooked.   Honestly, ten/five is probably underestimating the totals.  As they say, where there's smoke, there's fire. Before his Frances Fisher impregnation, the official story about Clint was that he had just two children.   If he could keep three kids' existences secret, he could keep ten secret, as long as the women he impregnated were not famous personalities in the media spotlight.  Deep movie star pockets are perfect for keeping former groupies' mouths glued shut. 

Clint is not unique in being a serial womanizer.   It comes with the territory of Hollywood.  Warren Beatty also went through women like wine, and for all I know, dated several at once.  But not even womanizing Warren impregnated one lady as he simultaneously romanced another while being married to still another.    Warren was wise enough to not mix philandering with marriage.  He didn't get married and have children until he was over 60.

The classic egomaniac feels better when others around him earn and achieve less.  Take a look at the majority of Clint Eastwood movies in which he appears as an actor, whether or not he directs them.    Notice that Clint rarely appears on screen beside any top-ranked actors.  His best known franchise, Dirty Harry, features no A-list talent that would have rivaled Clint's fame at the time.  When Clint does occasionally appear with equally famous people, they're:

Meryl Streep Bridges of Madison County  Female love interests, like Shirley Maclaine (Two Mules For Sister Sara) and Meryl Streep (The Bridges of Madison County).   Streep would have offered Clint other benefits.  He allegedly slept with her doing the shooting .  His then main flame, Frances Fisher, was barred from all the Iowa shooting locations.  Most of the time Clint's female love interests are not big name actresses, just future sleeping companions. 

Morgan Freeman Unforgiven  Supporting characters that take no attention away from Clint as the star.  Examples are Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris (Unforgiven), Gene Hackman (Absolute Power), and Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner (Space Cowboys).

Kevin Costner Perfect World Stars of the film, front and center, but playing roles Clint couldn't.  Think A Perfect World, in which Kevin Costner was the lead and Clint played a supporting role as the sheriff.  Clint was too old to play the part of the convict.   Another example is Million Dollar Baby.  Hilary Swank played the 'baby'.  Again, Clint was too old for the part, and he's not a female.  Anyway, Clint's primary intention in both those films was to direct.  He wasn't originally going to cast himself in Million Dollar Baby.  The parts were incidental, and if Clint had decided not to appear in those movies, the movies wouldn't have been dramatically different.   By being the director of the films, Clint was already in control.

The smart businessman hires people better than he is and accepts a new idea if it's superior to his own.  The egomaniac surrounds himself with yes men and undermines others.  During the filming of The Outlaw Josey Wales in 1976, Clint fired director Philip Kaufman and took over the directing duties.   In 1984, Clint let director Richard Tuggle "direct" Tightrope but subject to Clint's demands.  That same year, Richard Benjamin directed Clint and Burt Reynolds in the box office disaster City Heat.  By all accounts, Clint had so emasculated Benjamin after getting rid of original director Blake Edwards that Benjamin was next to useless.  It's common in Hollywood for a powerful actor to get director approval on a project, but once the director is agreed upon, the director is in charge.  On Clint's sets, he's always the one in control.  No wonder Steven Spielberg and Clint have never worked together as director and actor, respectively.  It'd be a clash of the egos from which no winner could emerge.

An egomaniac thinks only in terms of what will benefit himself, and Clint's behavior, particularly his behavior towards the females in his life, shows the Clintster is looking out solely for number one.  I don't feel sorry for the women Clint used and discarded.  It takes two to tango.   Clint's impregnation prowess was kept under wraps, but his womanizing wasn't.   His first wife knew of his gallivanting but didn't do anything about it until Clint got so bold to go out in public and flaunt his new lovers.  Subsequent women could see how he treated earlier women, yet they got in line anyway, to be used, impregnated, or both.   When I survey Clint's 'relationships', it's the classic example of a man cashing in an old model for something newer.  

Clint now declares that his old philandering antics are behind him.   Perhaps that's true.  More likely, it's not.  If it is true, if Clint really did reform himself at the age of 66, it's only because the advancing years were getting him to a stage where the young women wouldn't continue to jump in the queue as quickly.   It's just hard to imagine an 85 year old Clint (or anyone, for that matter) able to keep seducing women a half to a third of his age.   Clint's human.  He wouldn't want to reach old, old age mega rich but alone.   So he locked in a companion, and impregnation and marriage are as good a way to do that as any.   If his wife Dina is truly his lifelong soul mate, then I wish Clint all the best.  Clint's prior behavior, however, doesn't reveal a man on a quest for a soul mate. 

I can already foresee the flames I'm going to get from this article.     I base none of my assessments of Clint's character on pure conjecture.  I look to his record -- of women, of impregnations, of working relationships, of co-stars, and even of an assistant editor who used to work on some of Clint's films in the 1980's.  That record leaves a trail Clint's PR machine can't completely wash under the rug.    

 Clint once said in Dirty Harry, "A man's got to know his limitations."   Clint left innumerable people in his wake as he found out his. 

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