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Fritz Manes, Producer of Eastwood Films, Dies at 79

High school friend of Eastwood went on to produce films in the ’70s and ’80s

Fritz Manes, who produced several of his childhood friend Clint Eastwood's films in the 1980s, has died, his wife told The New York Times. He was 79.

Manes died of lung and brain cancer, said his wife, Audrey, who goes by Audi. 

Manes met Eastwood at Piedmont Junior High School in Piedmont, Calif., and later crossed paths at Oakland Technical High School, the Times said. Manes served in the Marines in the Korean War, studied acting at UCLA, and went on to a series of jobs in radio and television.

Eastwood hired him for his production company, Malpaso, and in 1976 gave him assistant to the producer credits for "The Outlaw Josey Wales" and "The Enforcer."

He later received producer credits on films including "Any Which Way You Can," "Tightrope," and "City Heat." He received executive producer credit for "Firefox," "Honkytonk Man," "Sudden Impact," "Pale Rider," and "Heartbreak Ridge."

He also appeared in small roles in films including "Escape From Alcatraz," and "Every Which Way But Loose."

The professional relationship ended with "Heartbreak Ridge." Because he was a former Marine who had won the Purple Heart, Manes was expected to work closely with the Marine Corps. But the Marines disavowed the film, in part because of its loose portrayal of the invasion of Grenada, the Times said.

Manes later told Patrick McGilligan, author of "Clint: The Life and Legend," that Eastwood enticed him with acting roles and was stingy with credits.

"With this guy, if you got any credit for anything it was a miracle," Manes said. "He used to choke on the word 'producer.'"

The Times said Eastwood told The Independent in 1997, "I promoted him into a position, and he didn’t perform."

Manes later formed his own production company, Sundancer, and served on the California Film Commission.