Clint Eastwood is an American actor with a career spanning more than fifty years. A true cultural icon of masculinity, Eastwood emerged as one of Hollywood’s most popular stars in the 1960s with his Western films and went on to become a prolific director and producer as well as an actor.
Born during the Great Depression, the early parts of Eastwood’s life were spent moving around every four or five months for the first fourteen years of his life. He didn’t do well academically, yet showed athletic and musical talents. When he transferred to Oakland Technical High School, drama teachers there encouraged him to take part in school plays, but he was not interested. Eastwood claims that his only interests were ‘fast cars and easy women’.
It is uncertain if he graduated high school, classmates have reference that they believe Eastwood was too busy ‘having a good time elsewhere’ to spend time in school. In 1951 he was drafted by the United States Army and assigned to Fort Ord in California, he was appointed as a lifeguard and projectionist of training films.
When the TV series Rawhide was being filmed in Fort Ord, that’s when an enterprising assistant spotted Eastwood and invited him to meet the director. Eastwood later moved to Los Angeles and with these connections he secured himself many unsuccessful auditions. A screen test with Universal in 1954 gave him a 40-week contract but after one renewal and a few bit parts in films, he was dropped. His big break came in 1959 as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide (1959-65).
Clint Eastwood is perhaps best known for his appearances in the Dollars Trilogy, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). These films were said to establish the spaghetti western genre and are listed amongst the best Western films in history.
Spaghetti Westerns are a subgenre of Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s, the term was used by American critics and those in other countries because most of these Westerns were produced and directed by Italians.
In the Dollars Trilogy, Eastwood plays ‘the man with no name’, a bounty hunter and hired gun with a sense of justice. He fights his way through the films through various stand-offs, double crosses and showdowns. Eastwood was drawn to the idea of playing an anti-hero, to challenge the American stereotype of a Western hero. All three films were commercial successes and established Eastwood as a box-office star.
Cigars in Films
You wouldn’t be able to search for stills from Eastwood’s spaghetti Westerns without coming across the iconic image of him with a cigar clamped between his teeth. His character probably did more to popularise cigar smoking than any other screen hero.
‘The man with no name’ had a penchant for smoking stubby, cheap cigars that were accurate for the period, but would certainly make any cigar aficionado wince. There is no official answer to which kind of cigars Eastwood was smoking. Some assume the cigars must have been Italian cigars such as Toscano cigars, given the nature of the films being Italian. However, Eastwood has stated in an interview that the cigars were from the US and were called ‘Virginians’. It has also been speculated that he was smoking the nub of a Marsh Wheeling cigar, which closely resembles what you can see in the films.
Although a non-smoker himself, the director, Sergio Leone, insisted Eastwood smoke cigars as an essential ingredient of the ‘mask’ he was trying to create with the character. Whatever brand and kind the cigars were, they certainly helped to craft such an iconic Western character.
Continued Career Success
Not wanting to be pigeon-holed as a spaghetti Western star, Eastwood was eager to move on to other projects despite the director wanting to explore more stories of ‘the man with no name’. His fame with the Dollars Trilogy brought more roles his way, and he used his money from the trilogy to establish his own production company, Malpaso Productions.
His career reached a turning point in 1971 when he produced Play Misty for Me, a film that gave Eastwood the artistic control he desired, and he debuted as a director. He then went on to star in Dirty Harry, which is considered one of Eastwood’s most memorable characters; it achieved huge financial success and spawned four sequels.
Going on to star in many more films, his style of acting was minimally expressive, which drew little praise from critics. Yet his strong screen presence earned him success at the box office. He has received many awards including Academy Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, Golden Globe Awards and People’s Choice Awards.
Clint Eastwood Today
Today, Eastwood is still very active in the world of filmmaking. In 2018 he directed a biographical thriller, The 15:17 to Paris, and starred in and directed The Mule. Speaking in a recent interview with USA TODAY, the 88-year-old actor claims that there is no talk of retirement on the horizon, and that he loves what he does too much.
If you’re inspired by Clint Eastwood’s fantastic performance as ‘the man with no name’, you can visit our cigar shop in London to enjoy your purchase in our cigar lounge.