Sondra Locke in The Gondola (1973)
Sandra Louise Smith
May 28, 1944
|Died||November 3, 2018 (aged 74)|
|Resting place||Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary|
|Alma mater||Middle Tennessee State University|
|Years active||1968–1999, 2017|
Gordon Anderson (m. 1967–2018)
|Partner(s)||Clint Eastwood (1975–1989)|
Scott Cunneen (1990–?)
Sandra Louise Anderson (née Smith; May 28, 1944 – November 3, 2018), professionally known as Sondra Locke, was an American actress and director. She made her film debut in 1968 in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Locke went on to star in such films as Willard, The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Gauntlet, Every Which Way But Loose, Bronco Billy, Any Which Way You Can and Sudden Impact. On each film (with the exception of the former), she had worked with Clint Eastwood, who was her companion for 13 years. Locke's autobiography, The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly – A Hollywood Journey, was published in 1997.
Sandra Louise Smith was born on May 28, 1944, in Madison County, Alabama to New York City native Raymond Smith, then serving in the military, and Pauline Bayne, a pencil factory worker from Huntsville, Alabama. Her parents separated before her birth. In her autobiography, Locke noted that "although Momma would not admit it, I knew Mr. Smith never married my mother." She had a maternal half-brother, Donald (b. April 26, 1946) from Bayne's subsequent brief marriage to William B. Elkins. When Bayne married Alfred Locke in 1948, Sandra and Donald adopted his surname. She grew up in Shelbyville, Tennessee, where her stepfather owned a construction company.
Locke was a cheerleader and class valedictorian in junior high. She attended Shelbyville Central High School, where she was again valedictorian and voted "Duchess of Studiousness" by classmates, graduating in 1962. She then enrolled at (but did not graduate from) Middle Tennessee State University, majoring in Drama. She was a member of the Alpha Psi Omega honor society while at MTSU and appeared onstage in Life with Father and The Crucible.
Locke held a number of jobs, including as a bookkeeper for Tyson Foods and secretary in a real-estate office. Later, she worked in the promotions department for WSM-TV in Nashville when she lived there for approximately three years and modeled for The Tennessean fashion page. At age 23 she changed the spelling of her first name to avoid being called Sandy.
In 1967, Locke won a nationwide talent search for the part of Mick Kelly in a big-screen adaptation of Carson McCullers' novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter opposite Alan Arkin. Prior thereto, she had acted in television commercials and starred in some half-dozen theater productions for Circle Players Inc. Heart was released to critical acclaim in the summer of 1968, garnering Locke the Academy Award nomination, as well as a pair of Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Newcomer. She also won "Most Promising New Star of the Year" at the Show-A-Rama film exhibitor convention.
Her next role was as Melisse in Cover Me Babe (1970), originally titled Run Shadow Run, opposite Robert Forster. It was announced that she would play the lead in Lovemakers, a film adaptation of Robert Nathan's novel The Color of Evening, but no movie resulted. Locke was offered Barbara Hershey's role in Last Summer (1969), but her agent turned it down without telling her. Shortly afterwards she passed up the lead in My Sweet Charlie (1970), which won an Emmy for its eventual star Patty Duke.
In 1971, Locke co-starred with Bruce Davison and Ernest Borgnine in the psychological thriller Willard, which became a box office hit. She was featured in William A. Fraker's underseen A Reflection of Fear (1972), and held the title role in The Second Coming of Suzanne (1974), winner of three gold medals at the Atlanta Film Festival.
Locke guested on television drama series during the first half of the 1970s, including The F.B.I., Cannon, Barnaby Jones and Kung Fu. In the 1972 Night Gallery episode "A Feast of Blood", she played the victim of a curse planted by Norman Lloyd; the recipient of a brooch that devoured her. Lloyd acted with her again in The Gondola (1973), a three-character teleplay with Bo Hopkins, and remarked that Locke gave "a beautiful performance – perhaps her best ever."
Her career reached a turning point in 1975, when she took a supporting role in The Outlaw Josey Wales as the love interest of Clint Eastwood's eponymous character. This was followed by a lead role alongside Eastwood in the hit action film The Gauntlet (1977). Over the course of their personal relationship, Locke did not work in any capacity on any theatrical motion picture other than with him except for 1977's western The Shadow of Chikara. The home invasion film Death Game, though released after they became an item, was actually shot in 1974.
In 1978, Locke and Eastwood appeared with an orangutan named Manis in that year's second highest-grossing film, Every Which Way But Loose. She portrayed country singer Lynn Halsey-Taylor in the adventure-comedy. Its 1980 sequel, Any Which Way You Can, was nearly as successful. Locke recorded several songs for the soundtracks of these films and performed live in concert with The Everly Brothers, Eddie Rabbitt and Tom Jones.
Locke starred as a bitter heiress who joins a traveling Wild West show in Bronco Billy (1980), her only film with Eastwood not to reach blockbuster status. She cited Bronco Billy and The Outlaw Josey Wales as her favorites of the movies they made together. The couple's final collaboration as performers was Sudden Impact (1983), the highest-grossing film in the Dirty Harry franchise, where Locke played an artist with her own code of vigilante justice. Eastwood then directed Locke in the 1985 Amazing Stories episode "Vanessa in the Garden".
In 1986, Locke made her feature directorial debut with Ratboy, a fable about a youth who is half-rat, produced by Eastwood's company Malpaso. Ratboy only had a limited release in the United States, where it was a critical and financial flop, but was well-received in Europe, with French newspaper Le Parisien calling it the highlight of the Deauville Film Festival. Concentrating almost exclusively on directing from that point onward, Locke's second foray behind the camera was Impulse (1990), starring Theresa Russell as a police officer on the vice squad who goes undercover as a prostitute. Later, she directed the made-for-television film Death in Small Doses (1995), based on a true story, and the independent film Trading Favors (1997), starring Rosanna Arquette.
After 13 years away from acting, Locke returned to the screen in 1999 with small roles in the straight-to-video films The Prophet's Game with Dennis Hopper and Clean and Narrow with Wings Hauser. In 2014, the media announced that Locke would serve as an executive producer on the Eli Roth film Knock Knock, starring Keanu Reeves. She came out of retirement once more in 2016, shooting Alan Rudolph's indie Ray Meets Helen with Keith Carradine.
Locke married sculptor Gordon Leigh Anderson on September 25, 1967. 22 years into the marriage, she stated in court papers that it was never consummated and described her relationship with Anderson (reputedly a gay man) as being "tantamount to sister and brother." Locke, testifying under oath to a jury, said that her husband was "more like a sister to me" and explained, "it's funny the sort of cultural changes, but in those days males and females never lived together unless they were married." According to her death certificate, the two were still legally married when she died, and Anderson was the person who reported her death.
Because Locke waited so long to confirm that her marriage was platonic, most of her actual romances went unpublicized. In the mid-1960s, she dated a co-worker from WSM-Channel 4's public relations department, Tom Grissom. She was also rumored to have dated co-stars Bruce Davison, Paul Sand and Bo Hopkins as well as movie producer Hawk Koch and John F. Kennedy's nephew Robert Shriver.
From October 1975 until April 1989, Locke cohabited with actor Clint Eastwood. They had first met in 1972, but became involved while filming The Outlaw Josey Wales. Late in the 1970s, Locke had two abortions.[n 1] "I'd feel sorry for any child that had me for a mother," she told syndicated columnist Dick Kleiner in 1969. After the second abortion she underwent a tubal ligation, stating in her autobiography that her decision to have the procedures was due to Eastwood's adamancy that parenthood would not fit into their lifestyle. Eastwood secretly fathered another woman's two children during the last three years of their relationship.
In 1989, Locke filed a palimony suit against Eastwood after he changed the locks on their Bel-Air home, and moved her possessions into storage while she was on the Impulse set. Following a year-long legal battle, the parties reached a settlement wherein Eastwood set up a film development/directing pact for Locke at Warner Bros. in exchange for dropping the suit. Locke sued Eastwood again for fraud in 1995, alleging the deal with Warner was a sham—the studio had rejected all of the 30 or more projects she proposed and never used her as a director. According to Locke's attorney Peggy Garrity, Eastwood committed "the ultimate betrayal" by arranging the "bogus" deal as a way to keep her out of work. Locke settled the case with Eastwood out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. The outcome of the case, Locke said, sent a "loud and clear" message to Hollywood, "that people cannot get away with whatever they want to just because they're powerful."
Locke brought a separate action against Warner Bros. for allegedly conspiring with Eastwood to sabotage her directorial career. As had happened with the previous lawsuit, this ended in an out-of-court settlement, in 1999. By then, Locke had fired Garrity and hired Neil Papiano to represent her. The agreement with Warner Bros., Locke said, was "a happy ending" after "five years of torture." "I feel elated. This has been the best day in a long, long time," Locke said outside the courthouse. The case is used in some modern law-school contract textbooks to illustrate the legal concept of good faith.
Locke was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990 and underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. During treatment, she began dating one of her surgeons, Dr. Scott Cunneen, who was 17 years her junior. He moved in with her in 1991. They eventually broke up. In 2001, Locke purchased a six-bedroom home in Hollywood Hills, where she then resided.
Locke died on November 3, 2018, at the age of 74 from a cardiac arrest related to breast and bone cancer, although it was not publicized until December 14, 2018. Her remains were cremated at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary. The ashes were given to her husband, Gordon Anderson.
|1968||The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter||Mick Kelly||Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress|
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer — Female
Nominated—Laurel Award for Female Supporting Performance
Nominated—Laurel Award for Female New Face
|1970||Cover Me Babe||Melisse|
|1972||A Reflection of Fear||Marguerite|
|1972||Night Gallery||Sheila Gray||TV series; episode: "A Feast of Blood"|
|1972||The F.B.I.||Regina Mason||TV series; episode: "Dark Christmas"|
|1973||Cannon||Trish||TV series; episode: "Death of a Stone Seahorse"|
|1973||The ABC Afternoon Playbreak||Nora Sells||TV series; episode: "My Secret Mother"|
|1973||The Gondola||Jackie||TV movie|
|1974||The Second Coming of Suzanne||Suzanne|
|1974||Kung Fu||Gwyneth Jenkins||TV series; episode: "This Valley of Terror"|
|1974||Planet of the Apes||Amy||TV series; episode: "The Cure"|
|1975||Barnaby Jones||Alicia||TV series; episode: "The Orchid Killer"|
|1975||Cannon||Stacey Murdock||TV series; episode: "A Touch of Venom"|
|1976||Joe Forrester||N/A||TV series; episode: "A Game of Love"|
|1976||The Outlaw Josey Wales||Laura Lee|
|1977||Death Game||Agatha Jackson|
|1977||The Shadow of Chikara||Drusilla Wilcox|
|1977||The Gauntlet||Augustina "Gus" Malley|
|1978||Every Which Way But Loose||Lynn Halsey-Taylor|
|1979||Friendships, Secrets and Lies||Jessie||TV movie|
|1980||Bronco Billy||Antoinette Lily|
|1980||Any Which Way You Can||Lynn Halsey-Taylor|
|1982||Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story||Rosemary Clooney||TV movie|
|1983||Sudden Impact||Jennifer Spencer|
|1984||Tales of the Unexpected||Edna||TV series; episode: "Bird of Prey"|
|1985||Amazing Stories||Vanessa Sullivan||TV series; episode: "Vanessa in the Garden"|
|1999||The Prophet's Game||Adele Highsmith|
|1999||Clean and Narrow||Betsy Brand|
|2017||Ray Meets Helen||Helen|
- Locke explained in her autobiography: "Before I had met Clint my gynecologist had suggested and fitted for me an IUD. Because my sex life was not very active, he did not think I should be constantly taking birth control pills. Clint complained of the IUD – it was uncomfortable for him, he said. And he too was not in favor of birth control pills, so he suggested a special clinic at Cedars Hospital where they taught a 'natural' method of birth control. It was the same 'rhythm' system that historically has been used to determine the fertile days for those who are attempting to achieve pregnancy. Of course, it could be used for the opposite results as well. Not only was I taught their method but I was constantly monitored with regular pregnancy checks. The whole process was awkward and entailed taking my temperature every morning and marking the calendar, etc. It was demanding and ultimately it had failed twice."
- List of American film actresses
- List of female film and television directors
- List of Middle Tennessee State University people
- List of people from Los Angeles
- List of people from Tennessee
- Slaughter, Sylvia (May 28, 1989). "Sondra vs. Clint in palimony suit". The Tennessean.
Don Locke loves his sister. He misses her, and he regrets the fact that his three daughters don't have any knowledge of Sondra other than what they see on TV or in print or hear from gossipmongers. 'Sondra's not this kind of bad character,' he says. 'Maybe she's changed, but she was my big sister who used to play baseball with me. Sondra's gonna be 45 May 28 ...' Locke's publicist claims Sondra will be 42 today.
- Varying sources have cited 1947 as her year of birth; however, her marriage license and her entry on Intelius (under her legal name, Sondra Anderson) establish the year as 1944.
- Furtado, David (August 31, 2013). "Sondra Locke's The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly: The Woman with a Name".
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- Oscar-nominated actress Sondra Locke dies at 74
- (October 15, 1989) Walter Scott's Personality Parade.
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- This Time, Judge Judy's a Defendant
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- Sandra Locke appeared with Clint Eastwood in hit films Telegraph Retrieved 18 December 2018
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