Sondra Locke

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Sondra Locke
Sondra Locke The Gondola 1974.jpg
Sondra Locke in The Gondola (1973)
Born Sondra Louise Smith
(1944-05-28) May 28, 1944 (age 72)
Shelbyville, Tennessee, U.S.
Nationality United States
Occupation Actress, singer, director
Years active 1968–1999
Spouse(s) Gordon Anderson (m. 1967)
Partner(s) Clint Eastwood (1975–1989)
Sondra Locke autograph signature.jpg

Sondra Louise Anderson (née Smith; born May 28, 1944[1][2]), professionally known as Sondra Locke, is an American actress and film 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 has 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]

Locke was born in Shelbyville, Tennessee, the daughter of Raymond Smith, a native of New York City then serving in the military, and Pauline Bayne Locke, a pencil factory worker. Her parents separated before she was born, and Bayne married construction company owner Alfred Taylor Locke. From that marriage, Locke has a maternal half-brother, Don (born April 1946).

Locke was a cheerleader and class valedictorian in junior high.[3] She attended Shelbyville Senior High School, where she was again valedictorian and voted "Duchess of Studiousness" by classmates, graduating in May 1962.[4] She then enrolled at (but did not graduate from) Middle Tennessee State University, majoring in Drama.[5] Later, Locke worked in the promotions department for WSM-TV in Nashville when she lived there for approximately three years.[4]


Locke won a nationwide talent search in 1967 for the part of Mick Kelly in a big-screen adaptation of Carson McCullers' novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter opposite Alan Arkin.[6] Prior thereto, she had starred in some half-dozen theater productions with husband Gordon Anderson for Circle Players Inc.[4] The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter was released in the summer of 1968 to critical acclaim, garnering Locke an Academy Award nomination as well as two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Newcomer.

Her next film role was as Melisse in Cover Me Babe, originally titled Run Shadow Run,[7] opposite Robert Forster. In 1971, she co-starred with Bruce Davison and Ernest Borgnine in the psychological thriller Willard, which became a box office hit.[8] Locke made television guest appearances in several drama series throughout the early 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 Gondola, a three-character teleplay with Bo Hopkins, recounting that Locke gave "a beautiful performance – perhaps her best ever."[9] She was also featured in William A. Fraker's A Reflection of Fear (1972) and had the title role in The Second Coming of Suzanne (1974), co-starring Richard Dreyfuss.

Locke's career reached a turning point in 1975 when she took a supporting role in The Outlaw Josey Wales as the romantic 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. In 1978, she and Eastwood appeared with an orangutan named Manis in that year's second highest-grossing film, Every Which Way But Loose, an adventure-comedy in which Locke portayed country singer Lynn Halsey-Taylor. The 1980 sequel, Any Which Way You Can, was equally successful. She recorded several songs for the films' soundtracks and has also 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.[10] The couple's final collaboration as performers was Sudden Impact (1983), the highest-grossing film in the Dirty Harry franchise,[11] in which 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.[12] Concentrating almost exclusively on directing from that point onward, Locke's second foray behind the camera was Impulse (1990), a thriller starring Theresa Russell as a police officer 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-cable 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.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Locke married sculptor Gordon Anderson on September 25, 1967.[14] She has stated in court papers that the marriage was never consummated[15] and described her relationship with Anderson (reportedly a homosexual[16]) as "tantamount to sister and brother."[15] According to Locke, her husband is "more like a sister to me."[17] The two remain legally married.

From 1975 until 1989, Locke cohabited with actor Clint Eastwood.[18] They had first met in 1972, but became involved while filming The Outlaw Josey Wales. She had two abortions in the late 1970s.[n 1] Shortly 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 insistence that parenthood would not fit into their lifestyle.[3] She later discovered that he secretly fathered two children with another woman during the last three years of their relationship.[3]

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 at work on the Impulse set. Following a yearlong 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.[19]

In 1994, Locke sued Eastwood for fraud, alleging that the deal with Warner was a sham[18]–the studio had rejected all of the 30 or more projects she proposed, and never assigned her to direct any of their in-house projects.[3] According to Locke's attorney Peggy Garrity, Eastwood committed "the ultimate betrayal" by arranging the "bogus" film directing deal as a way to keep her out of work.[20] The case went to trial in 1996, but just minutes before a jury was to render a verdict, Eastwood agreed to settle for an undisclosed amount.[21] 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."[22][23] The case is used in some modern law-school contract textbooks to illustrate the legal concept of good faith.[24]

At the time of the victory, Locke had a separate pending action against Warner Bros. for allegedly harming her career by agreeing to the sham movie-directing deal that Eastwood had purportedly engineered. As had been the case with the previous lawsuit, this ended in an out-of-court settlement, in 1999.[19][25] The agreement with Warner, Locke said, was "a happy ending" after "five years of torture."[19]

Locke is a breast cancer survivor, having undergone a double mastectomy and chemotherapy in 1990.[26] 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.[3] In 2001, Locke purchased a six-bedroom home in the Hollywood Hills,[27] a neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, in the southeastern Santa Monica Mountains.


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 Clean and Narrow Betsy Brand
1999 The Prophet's Game Adele Highsmith


  • Ratboy (1986)
  • Impulse (1990)
  • Death in Small Doses (1995)
  • Do Me a Favor (1997)


  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."[3]

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 d e f Locke, Sondra (1997). The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly – A Hollywood Journey. William Morrow and Company. ISBN 978-0-688-15462-2. 
  4. ^ a b c "Sondra vs. Clint in palimony suit". The Tennessean. May 28, 1989. 
  5. ^ Sondra Locke in The Crucible : MTSU theater production, 1963
  6. ^ Detroit Free Press. Detroit, Michigan. September 22, 1967. p. 12.
  7. ^ Harold Heffernan (August 14, 1969). Sondra Valuable Behind the Scene. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  8. ^ Norma Lee Browning (August 4, 1971). What Makes a Box Office Hit?. Bangor Daily News.
  9. ^ Norman Lloyd (1990). Stages: Norman Lloyd. Directors Guild of America. ISBN 0810822903. 
  10. ^ Outlaw Josey Wales – Forty Years Later
  11. ^ "Dirty Harry Movies". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 
  12. ^ 'Ratboy': Snared In The Studio Trap. Los Angeles Times. February 15, 1987.
  13. ^ Kay, Jeremy (April 28, 2014). "Voltage taking Eli Roth's Knock Knock with Keanu Reeves to Cannes". ScreenDaily. Cannes. 
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ a b "Locke Married?". The Palm Beach Post. May 9, 1989. 
  16. ^ "Biography: Sondra Locke - TCM". 
  17. ^ Eastwood Unforgiven : Locke's Lawsuit Spins Saga of Love and Power in Hollywood
  18. ^ a b Errico, Marcus (September 11, 1996). "Eastwood's Ex-Lover Says He Torpedoed Her Career". 
  19. ^ a b c Scoop (July 5, 1999). The Battle's Over for Eastwood's Ex . People.
  20. ^ "Eastwood, ex-lover settle court battle as jurors deliberate". Daily News. September 23, 1996. 
  21. ^ "Eastwood Settles with Sondra Locke". Philadelphia Inquirer. September 25, 1996. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  22. ^ O'Neill, Ann W. (September 18, 1996). "Sondra Locke Suing Clint Eastwood". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 29, 2010. 
  23. ^ O'Neill, Ann W. (September 29, 1996). "Locke Feels Vindicated After Lawsuit". Los Angeles Times retrieved September 11, 2013.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Ryan, Joal (May 25, 1999). "Vindication for Clint Eastwood's Ex-Lover". 
  26. ^ Staff (undated). "Locke Biography". Retrieved October 7, 2012.
  27. ^ Staff (February 25, 2009). "Sondra Locke's House". Retrieved October 7, 2012.

External links[edit]