Sondra Locke, Oscar-Nominated Actress and Longtime Clint Eastwood Partner, Dies at 74

Locke also directed films such as “Impulse” and “Trading Favors”

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Sondra Locke, Oscar-nominated actress and former partner of Clint Eastwood, died last month at the age of 74, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Locke earned her Oscar nomination in 1968 for her supporting role in the adaptation of Carson McCullers’ “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter,” starring alongside Alan Arkin. It was Locke’s first acting role, which led to star turns in films like “Willard” and “The Second Coming of Suzanne,” the latter being her first title role.

Her career then took a big turn in 1975 when she starred alongside Clint Eastwood in “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” She played the love interest of Eastwood’s character and began dating him soon after. During their 14 year relationship, Locke and Eastwood made six films together, including the highest grossing installment of the “Dirty Harry” franchise, “Sudden Impact,” in 1983. Their relationship ended with a palimony suit in 1989 after Eastwood locked Locke out of their house, and was discovered to have fathered children with another woman during their relationship.

Locke and Eastwood reached a settlement in which Eastwood helped set up a development and directing deal at Warner Bros. in exchange for dropping the palimony suit. But Locke eventually sued Eastwood for fraud in 1995, asserting that the deal was a sham designed to destroy her career — Warner Bros, Locke said, had rejected every single project she pitched. She also sued Warner Bros. in a separate suit. Eastwood and WB both settled with Locke for undisclosed amounts of money, and the case has since been cited in law textbooks to illustrate of the legal concept of good faith.

Eight years later, Locke wrote a tell-all book about their relationship titled “The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly.” In it, Locke accused Eastwood and other Hollywood stars and studio heads of manipulating and sabotaging her career.

“[Eastwood] is like the emperor,” Locke told TheWrap Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman in a 1997 profile for The Washington Post. “He always had his own company store. If you were in Clint Eastwood movies, you were in the Clint Eastwood movie business. You weren’t in the movie business. You weren’t part of Hollywood. This became clear early on; people stopped calling. They automatically assumed I was working exclusively with Clint.”

In 1986, Locke made her directorial debut with “Ratboy,” which starred her as a failed window dresser who tries to adopt a human-rat mutant she discovers while dumpster diving. While the film was a flop in the U.S., it became critically acclaimed in Europe. She went on to direct the 1990 crime film “Impulse” and the 1997 thriller “Do Me A Favor.”

In 1967, Locke married actor, sculptor and artist Gordon Anderson, her childhood friend. Anderson was gay and Locke described their relationship as essentially siblings. In 1996 during her lawsuit against Eastwood, she explained their relationship and why they married. “It’s funny the sort of cultural changes, but in those days males and females never lived together unless they were married,” she told the jury, according to the Los Angeles Times. Locke also said that Anderson was “more like a sister to me.”

Locke and Anderson never divorced and remained close throughout their lives.