Sondra Locke

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Sondra Locke
Sondra Locke The Gondola 1974.jpg
Sondra Locke in The Gondola (1973)
Sandra Louise Smith

(1944-05-28)May 28, 1944
DiedNovember 3, 2018(2018-11-03) (aged 74)
  • Actress
  • singer
  • director
  • author
Years active1968–1999, 2017
Gordon Anderson (m. 1967)
Partner(s)Clint Eastwood (1975–1989)
Sondra Locke autograph signature.jpg

Sandra Louise Anderson (née Smith;May 28, 1944[1][2] – 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. She 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. She had worked with Clint Eastwood, who was her companion for over 13 years. Her autobiography, The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly – A Hollywood Journey, was published in 1997.

Early life[edit]

Sandra Louise Smith was born on May 28, 1944, 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.[3] In her autobiography, Locke noted that "although Momma would not admit it, I knew Mr. Smith never married my mother" [4] She has 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.[4] She attended Shelbyville Central Senior High School, where she was again valedictorian and voted "Duchess of Studiousness" by classmates, graduating in 1962.[5] She then enrolled at (but did not graduate from) Middle Tennessee State University, majoring in Drama.[6] Later, Locke worked in the promotions department for WSM-TV in Nashville when she lived there for approximately three years[5] and modeled for The Tennessean fashion page.[7] She changed the spelling of her first name in her early 20s to avoid being called Sandy.[7]


Locke won a nationwide talent search in 1967 for the part of Mick Kelly in a big-screen adaptation of Carson McCullers's novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter opposite Alan Arkin.[8] Prior thereto, she had starred in some half-dozen theater productions with husband Gordon Anderson for Circle Players Inc.[5] Released in the summer of 1968 to critical acclaim, Heart garnered Locke the Academy Award nomination, as well as a pair of Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Newcomer.[9][10]

Her next role was as Melisse in Cover Me Babe (1970), originally titled Run Shadow Run,[11] opposite Robert Forster. It was announced that she would play the lead in Lovemakers, a film adaptation of Robert Nathan's 1960 novel The Color of Evening,[12] but no movie resulted. In 1971, she co-starred with Bruce Davison and Ernest Borgnine in the psychological thriller Willard, which became a box office hit.[13] She was also featured in William A. Fraker's A Reflection of Fear (1972), and held the title role in The Second Coming of Suzanne (1974) with Paul Sand and Jared Martin.

Throughout the first half of the 1970s, Locke guested on television drama series, 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 Gondola (1973), a three-character teleplay with Bo Hopkins, and remarked that Locke gave "a beautiful performance – perhaps her best ever."[14]

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.[15]

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 has performed live in concert with 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 become a major commercial success. She cites Bronco Billy and The Outlaw Josey Wales as her favorites of the movies they made together.[16] The couple's final collaboration as performers was Sudden Impact (1983), the highest-grossing film in the Dirty Harry franchise,[17] where Locke played a vengeful artist who systematically murders the men who had gang-raped her and her sister a decade earlier.

In 1986, Locke made her feature directorial debut with Ratboy, a fable about a boy 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.[18] 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 Do Me a Favor (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.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Locke married sculptor Gordon Leigh Anderson on September 25, 1967.[20] She has stated in court papers that the marriage was never consummated[21] and described her relationship with Anderson (reportedly a homosexual)[22] as "tantamount to sister and brother."[21] According to Locke, her husband is "more like a sister to me."[23]

From 1975 until 1989, Locke cohabited with actor Clint Eastwood. They had first met in 1972, but became involved while filming The Outlaw Josey Wales.[3][24] In the late 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.[25] 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.[4] Eastwood secretly fathered another woman's two children during the last three years of their relationship.[4]

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.[3][26] 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.[26][27] Locke sued Eastwood again for fraud in 1995, alleging the deal with Warner was a sham[24]—the studio had rejected all of the 30 or more projects she proposed and never used her as a director.[4] 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.[28][29] Locke settled the case with Eastwood out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.[30][31] 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."[32]

Locke brought separate action against Warner Bros. for allegedly conspiring with Eastwood to sabotage her directorial career.[33] As had happened with the previous lawsuit, this ended in an out-of-court settlement, in 1999.[27][34] The agreement with Warner Bros., Locke said, was "a happy ending" after "five years of torture."[27] "I feel elated. This has been the best day in a long, long time," Locke said outside the courthouse.[33] The case is used in some modern law-school contract textbooks to illustrate the legal concept of good faith.[35]

Locke is a breast cancer survivor, having undergone a double mastectomy and chemotherapy in 1990.[36] During treatment, she began dating one of her surgeons, Scott Cunneen. Cunneen is 17 years younger than Locke. He moved in with her in 1991.[4] In 2001, Locke purchased a six-bedroom home in the Hollywood Hills.[37]

Locke died on November 3, 2018, from cardiac arrest related to breast and bone cancers. She was buried at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary.[38][39]


Year Title Role Notes
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
1971 Willard Joan
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"
1986 Ratboy Nikki Morrison
1999 The Prophet's Game Adele Highsmith
1999 Clean and Narrow Betsy Brand
2017 Ray Meets Helen Helen



  1. ^ 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."[4]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b c Furtado, David (31 August 2013). "Sondra Locke's The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly: The Woman with a Name".
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Locke, Sondra (1997). The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly – A Hollywood Journey. William Morrow and Company. ISBN 068815462X.
  5. ^ a b c "Sondra vs. Clint in palimony suit". The Tennessean. May 28, 1989.
  6. ^ "Sondra Locke in The Crucible : MTSU theater production, 1963". Archived from the original on March 28, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Harry Haun (August 30, 1968). "Sandra of Shelbyville Becomes Sondra of the Cinema". The Tennessean.
  8. ^ Fort Lauderdale News. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. September 19, 1967. p. 23.
  9. ^ "Winners & Nominees : Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture 1969". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Oscar Ceremony 1969 (Actress In A Supporting Role)". Academy Awards. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  11. ^ Harold Heffernan (August 14, 1969). Sondra Valuable Behind the Scene. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  12. ^ "Sondra Locke Is Leading Lady In 'Lovemakers'". Longview News-Journal. Longview, Texas. April 20, 1969. p. 60.
  13. ^ Norma Lee Browning (August 4, 1971). What Makes a Box Office Hit?. Bangor Daily News.
  14. ^ Norman Lloyd (1990). Stages: Norman Lloyd. Directors Guild of America. ISBN 0810822903.
  15. ^ "Local Angle". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. October 21, 1974. p. 12.
  16. ^ Outlaw Josey Wales – Forty Years Later
  17. ^ "Dirty Harry Movies". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-03-01.
  18. ^ 'Ratboy': Snared In The Studio Trap. Los Angeles Times. February 15, 1987.
  19. ^ Kay, Jeremy (April 28, 2014). "Voltage taking Eli Roth's Knock Knock with Keanu Reeves to Cannes". ScreenDaily. Cannes.
  20. ^ Peer J. Oppenheimer (November 24, 1968). Sondra Locke– They Call Her "The Beautiful Fake": A selfless husband with a flair for fooling catapulted this shy officeworker to overnight stardom. Herald Tribune.
  21. ^ a b "Locke Married?". The Palm Beach Post. May 9, 1989.
  22. ^ "Biography: Sondra Locke - TCM".
  23. ^ Eastwood Unforgiven : Locke's Lawsuit Spins Saga of Love and Power in Hollywood
  24. ^ a b Errico, Marcus (September 11, 1996). "Eastwood's Ex-Lover Says He Torpedoed Her Career". E! News.
  25. ^ The Times and Democrat. Orangeburg, South Carolina. July 29, 1969. p. 9
  26. ^ a b O'Neill, Ann W. (May 23, 1999). "Settlement Could Make Locke's Day". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ a b c Scoop (July 5, 1999). The Battle's Over for Eastwood's Ex . People.
  28. ^ "Eastwood, ex-lover settle court battle as jurors deliberate". Daily News. September 23, 1996.
  29. ^ O'Neill, Ann W. (September 18, 1996). "Sondra Locke Suing Clint Eastwood". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 29, 2010.
  30. ^ Errico, Marcus (September 24, 1996). "Clint Eastwood Pays Off Sondra Locke". E! News.
  31. ^ Furtado, David (19 October 2013). "Exclusive Interview with Sondra Locke: Magic in films and the real world".
  32. ^ "Eastwood Settles with Sondra Locke". Philadelphia Inquirer. September 25, 1996. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
  33. ^ a b Huffaker, Donna. "Eastwood's ex settles with Warner Bros". Los Angeles Daily News.
  34. ^ Ryan, Joal (May 25, 1999). "Vindication for Clint Eastwood's Ex-Lover". E! News.
  35. ^ See, e.g., Charles Knapp, Nathan Crystal, and Harry Prince, eds., Problems in Contract Law: Cases and Materials, 6th ed. (New York: Aspen, 2007), pp. 470-80.
  36. ^ Staff (undated). "Locke Biography" Archived July 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  37. ^ Staff (February 25, 2009). "Sondra Locke's House". Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  38. ^ Jacob, Mary (13 December 2018). "Clint Eastwood's Longtime Partner Sondra Locke Dead At 74". RadorOnline. American Media, Inc. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  39. ^ McNary, Dave (2018-12-14). "Oscar Nominee Sondra Locke Dies at 74". Variety. Retrieved 2018-12-14.

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