Winner of multiple Academy Awards, and arguably the king of Western films, Clint Eastwood turns 89 on May 31. Throughout the years, the famed director and actor has built an illustrious reputation among some of Hollywood’s richest talents. Eastwood’s robust resume includes directing more than 30 films since 1971, and his acting career has been equally successful.
Eastwood’s roles both in front of the camera and behind it have scored him a net worth of $375 million. That kind of bank account makes the legendary filmmaker easily one of the richest celebrities in Tinseltown. Here’s a look back at how the American icon rose to fame and fortune.
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Clint Eastwood’s Early Acting Career (1950s and 1960s)
1953: Got married for the first time
In 1953, Eastwood tied the knot with Maggie Johnson, his first wife, whom he married after meeting on a blind date six months prior, according to ABC News. Within a couple of years, Eastwood began working small, sometimes-uncredited roles in films like “Revenge of the Creature” and “Tarantula.”
1959: Earned $700 an episode on ‘Rawhide’
In 1959, Eastwood landed his first breakthrough role in the TV series “Rawhide,” playing cattle driver Rowdy Yates, which made him a household name. Eastwood earned roughly $700 per episode in the show’s early days — approximately $6,000 in today’s dollars. Even though this was fairly good money for a TV star of that era, it still pales in comparison to the huge paychecks of today’s TV stars.
1964: Landed first leading role worth $15,000
Eastwood snagged his first leading role in “A Fistful of Dollars,” which was released in Italy in 1964. The movie was a box-office hit and earned a domestic gross of $14.5 million on an estimated $200,000 budget after its 1967 U.S. release. For his role in the film, however, Eastwood earned just $15,000 — around $115,000 today.
1967: Received a $250K paycheck for ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’
Two more Clint Eastwood movies hit U.S. theaters in 1967: “For a Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Before filming for “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” began in 1966, Eastwood negotiated a much higher pay of $250,000 — about $1.9 million today — and 10 percent of profits earned in America, plus a Ferrari.
The three big-hit Westerns all released in 1967 in the U.S. solidified Eastwood’s status as an action star and huge name in the film industry.
Clint Eastwood Moves Into Producing and Directing (1970s and 1980s)
1971: Eastwood’s directing debut grosses $10.6M
In 1971, Eastwood made his directorial debut with the thriller film “Play Misty for Me,” in which he also starred. The film was received well and earned a domestic gross of $10.6 million.
That same year, Eastwood also starred in “Dirty Harry,” which turned out to be a huge hit with a domestic gross of $36 million. It’s still a cult classic and its success led to four other films in the “Dirty Harry” franchise.
1978: ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ grosses $85M domestically
“Every Which Way But Loose” grossed the most of all Eastwood movies released in the 1970s, raking in more than $85 million. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, Box Office Mojo puts the film’s earnings equivalent to $333.5 million, making it the highest-grossing film in which Eastwood has ever acted. The 1980 sequel “Any Which Way You Can” was also a hit, grossing $70.7 million.
Around this time, Eastwood met actress Sondra Locke and the two started a decade-plus relationship even though he was still married to Johnson at the time, according to ABC News.
1980s: $4.5M flops to $46.7M movie hits
Eastwood’s success slowed a bit during this decade, and his films were more hit-and-miss. He directed, produced, starred in and wrote music for 1982’s “Honkytonk Man,” but the film flopped and earned less than $4.5 million, one of the lowest totals of Eastwood’s career. Fortunately, Eastwood’s other 1982 film, “Firefox,” was a hit that brought in just above $46.7 million in box-office sales, according to Box Office Mojo.
Eastwood’s minor career slump continued through the 1980s, and his few high-earning films were sequels of other films, like the 1983 “Dirty Harry” follow-up, “Sudden Impact.” Despite this, in 1984 Eastwood was honored at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and imprinted his handprints and signature into the cement.
1984: First divorce costs Eastwood $25M
Eastwood also had troubles in his personal life, starting with a divorce from Maggie Johnson in 1984 that cost him big. She walked away from the divorce settlement with $25 million of his earnings, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Eastwood’s relationship with Locke also ended soon after in 1989, and Locke filed a palimony claim against him. After a long and drawn-out legal battle, she and Eastwood settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
1986: Eastwood elected mayor of Carmel, Calif.
During the ’80s, Eastwood, an outspoken Republican, got more involved in political matters. In 1986, he spent $25,000 on his campaign to be mayor of Carmel, Calif. He won the election and held office for one term.
Clint Eastwood Finds Commercial and Critical Success (1990s and 2000s)
1992: ‘Unforgiven’ is Eastwood’s $100M comeback hit
After a rocky decade both financially and personally, Eastwood turned it around with big success in the 1990s. Eastwood directed, produced and starred in 1992’s “Unforgiven,” which earned a domestic gross of $101,157,44, according to Box Office Mojo. The film also won critics over, earning four Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Supporting Actor Gene Hackman and Best Picture. The film was a return to the genre that made him famous and was his last Western film to date.
In 1993, Eastwood starred in another huge career hit, “In the Line of Fire,” portraying a Secret Service agent to the president, which grossed $102.3 million.
1994: ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ earns $71.5M domestically
After being recognized with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1994, an honor handed down by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the consistently high quality of his movies, Eastwood debuted a new film in 1995. Eastwood directed, produced, starred in and even wrote music for “The Bridges of Madison County,” a success that earned a domestic box-office gross of $71.5 million.
According to ABC News, Eastwood also found love again with Dina Ruiz, whom he met in 1993 during a TV interview. After three years of dating, the couple married in 1996.
2003: ‘Mystic River’ garners Oscar nods, $90.1M
Eastwood saw continued success in the 2000s. In 2003, he directed, produced and wrote music for “Mystic River,” which was nominated for Best Director and Best Picture in the 2003 Academy Awards. Sean Penn ended up winning Best Actor for “Mystic River,” and the film earned a total domestic gross of $90.1 million.
2004: ‘Million Dollar Baby’ wins Best Picture, grosses $100.5M
Eastwood followed up that success with another in 2004, directing and starring in “Million Dollar Baby.” The film took home the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress. “Million Dollar Baby” grossed nearly $216.8 million worldwide at the box office.
In 2006, he directed and produced “Letters From Iwo Jima,” which was a favorite of critics and nominated for Best Director and Best Picture by the Academy. The film was a box-office flop, however, earning only $13,756,082 domestically, but Eastwood’s other 2006 film, “Flags of Our Fathers,” more than doubled that with over $33 million in domestic earnings.
2008: ‘Gran Torino’ success boosts Eastwood’s yearly earnings to $35M
Eastwood directed two films in 2008: “Changeling” starring Angelina Jolie, and “Gran Torino.” Not only did Eastwood direct “Gran Torino,” but he also anchored the film as the lead character.
“Gran Torino” turned out to be a major hit, grossing nearly $270 million worldwide. Not too shabby for a film that originally had a $35 million budget.
Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper’ and Political Involvement (2012 to 2018)
2012: Eastwood gets involved in elections
Eastwood directed a string of mediocre-performing films between 2009 and 2011, but he then became more politically active in 2012. That same year he gave the infamous “empty chair address” at the Republican National Convention, acting as if President Obama were present in an empty chair and criticizing the imaginary president for his failures.
2014: ‘American Sniper’ becomes highest-grossing Clint Eastwood movie
After receiving backlash for his political views two years prior, the success of “American Sniper” was just what Eastwood needed.
Although Eastwood started off 2014 with the release of the mildly successful “Jersey Boys,” he rebounded in December with “American Sniper” starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. The film is his most financially successful project to date, grossing more than $547.4 million worldwide. “American Sniper” also scored big with critics, earning Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor as well as four other Oscars.
2016: Eastwood directs ‘Sully’ in Imax, starring Tom Hanks
Eastwood might be turning 88 years old, but he’s got an eye for the latest technology. In 2016, Eastwood directed “Sully.” The film, which has a lifetime gross of more than $125 million domestically, was the first movie made almost entirely with Imax cameras. “Sully” stars Tom Hanks as the U.S. Airways pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who landed a passenger airliner in the Hudson River in 2009.
2018: ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ and Eastwood’s future plans
Released in February, “The 15:17 to Paris” is the latest movie Eastwood directed. The film, which is based on the true story of three Americans who uncover a terrorist plot on a train in France, performed poorly at the box office with a domestic lifetime gross of just over $36 million. It was also was panned by critics.
Despite the disappointment of “The 15:17 to Paris,” Eastwood’s directing chops and legacy in cinema remain undeniable.
As for the future, Eastwood is in talks to direct, produce and — for the first time since 2012 — star in the drama “The Mule” with Bradley Cooper.
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About the Author
Tess Frame is a journalist, a mom, and a home-and-family blogger based in sunny San Diego, Calif. She writes about personal finance topics including budgeting, mortgages and increasing income, as well as wallet-friendly DIY and home improvement projects. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from BYU-Idaho and has been writing for various websites since 2009.