Saturday, December 15, 2018

ululate! (belated edition)

It happened in November, but the news only just came out that actress Sondra Locke, a fine artist in her own right, but doomed forever to be known as "Clint Eastwood's ex-girlfriend" because of her relationship with Eastwood during the 70s and the 80s, died at the age of 74. The cause of death was a combination of breast and bone cancer that led to cardiac arrest.

I remember Locke best from a few of the movies she did with her then-beau Eastwood: "Every Which Way But Loose," "Sudden Impact," "The Outlaw Josie Wales," and some others. She could play both delicate and tough when she needed to, and she had those impossibly huge, expressive eyes long before Anne Hathaway and her enormous peepers appeared on the scene.

In poring over Locke's biographical information, I discovered she was a nerd: valedictorian at both the junior-high and the senior-high level. Sondra was born Sandra, and Locke was her stepfather's surname, which she took on as her stage name. She starred in the 1968 "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," a performance that snagged her both a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. She dated Clint Eastwood for about thirteen or fourteen years; she was married to a gay man named Gordon Leigh Anderson, a childhood friend, during her time with Eastwood, and she was technically still legally married to Anderson when she died. Eastwood and Locke's adulterous affair took a sour turn when Eastwood later cheated on Locke; he insisted to Locke that he didn't want children (she had two abortions), then he fathered two children with another woman late in his relationship with Locke. The Locke-Eastwood separation was a nasty one, with Eastwood changing the locks on his home while Locke was away on a movie set. This was followed by a palimony suit and one or two other lawsuits initiated by Locke, including a suit against Eastwood for reasons of fraud. Locke wrote a 1997 autobiography called The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly. I can only assume that the book's title refers pointedly to Eastwood, who is undoubtedly portrayed within as "very ugly." Suffice it to say that Locke didn't have the easiest life.

I had a bit of a crush on Sondra Locke when I was a wee lad. Because of her distinctive looks, including a prominent-but-cute nose, I ended up crushing on some female classmates with similar traits. RIP, Ms. Locke.

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