Sondra Locke
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Sondra Locke

Sondra Locke
Sondra Locke 1968 press photo.jpg
Locke at a press conference in Burbank, July 1968
Sandra Louise Smith

(1944-05-28)May 28, 1944
DiedNovember 3, 2018(2018-11-03) (aged 74)
Other names
  • Sandra Elkins
  • Sandra Locke
  • Sondra Anderson
Alma materMiddle Tennessee State University
  • Actress
  • director
Years active1962-2016
Gordon Anderson
(m. 1967)
Clint Eastwood (1975-1989)
Scott Cunneen (1990-?)
Sondra Locke autograph signature.jpg

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. She went on to star in such hit 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 worked often with Clint Eastwood, who was her companion for 14 years. She also directed four films, notably Impulse. Locke's autobiography, The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly: A Hollywood Journey, was published in 1997.

Background, early life and education

Sandra Louise Smith was born on May 28, 1944,[a][b] the daughter of New York City native Raymond Smith, then serving in the military,[c] and Pauline Bayne, a pencil factory worker from Huntsville, Alabama who was of mostly Scottish descent, with matrilineages in South Carolina dating back to the late 1700s.[28] Locke's parents separated before her birth.[29] In her autobiography, Locke noted that "although Momma would not admit it, I knew Mr. Smith never married my mother."[30] She had a maternal half-brother, Donald (born April 26, 1946) from Bayne's subsequent brief marriage to William B. Elkins.[31][d] When Bayne married Alfred Locke in 1948, Sandra and Donald adopted his surname.[33][e] She grew up in Shelbyville, Tennessee, where her stepfather owned a construction company;[34] the family later moved to nearby Wartrace.[35] Self-described as introspective[36] and ambitious,[37] Locke started working part-time at age 16, drove her own car, and had a telephone installed in her bedroom.[30]

Locke's yearbook photo, 1960

Locke was a cheerleader and class valedictorian in junior high.[38] From 1958, she attended Shelbyville Central High School, where she was again valedictorian and voted "Duchess of Studiousness" by classmates.[39] She also played on the girls' basketball team, served as PTSA representative and was president of the French club.[19][20][21][22] (Regardless, she wasn't considered "date material" by the lotharios of her class.)[5] Following graduation in 1962, Locke enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro on a full scholarship.[30] Majoring in drama,[40] she was a member of the Alpha Psi Omega honor society while at MTSU and appeared onstage in Life with Father and The Crucible.[35][41][42] She dropped out after completing two semesters of study.[38]

In or around 1963,[43] Locke essentially broke off contact with her family, concluding: "It made no sense for any of us to spend our lives pretending to have relationships that did not really exist."[29] She never knew her biological father,[44] and did not attend the funerals of her mother (deceased 1997)[45] or stepfather (deceased 2007),[46] nor did she have anything to do with her brother, sister-in-law and three nieces.[25][39][47][f] Donald blamed Gordon Anderson - Locke's best friend since adolescence and future husband - for the rift, claiming Anderson had "an almost hypnotic spell on her."[39]

Locke held a variety of jobs, including as a bookkeeper for Tyson Foods and secretary in a real-estate office.[30] In 1964, she joined the staff at radio station WSM-AM 650 in Nashville and was promoted to its television affiliate WSM-Channel 4 the following year.[39][49] Locke's biggest coup while employed there was interviewing actor Robert Loggia when Loggia visited Nashville to promote his TV pilot T.H.E. Cat, during which he "flirted outrageously" with Locke.[30] Locke also modeled for The Tennessean fashion page, acted in commercials, and gained further stage experience in productions for Circle Players Inc.[39][50] In 1966, the 22-year-old appeared in a UPI wire photo that showed her cavorting in new fallen snow.[51] Within one year of this exposure, she decided to pursue a career in film and changed the spelling of her first name to avoid being called Sandy.[50]


Rise to prominence

In July 1967, Locke competed with 590 other Southern actresses and dozens of New York hopefuls for the part of Mick Kelly in a big-screen adaptation of Carson McCullers' novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter opposite Alan Arkin.[52][g] For the first audition in Birmingham, then-fiancé Gordon Anderson gave his bride a so-called Hollywood makeover: he bound her bosom,[54] bleached her eyebrows[30] and carefully fixed her hair, makeup and outfit so as to create a more gamine appearance.[55] They also lied about her age, shaving off six years to seem younger[56][h] - a pretense Locke would keep up for the rest of her career.[i] After callbacks in New Orleans and Manhattan, she was cast in the role.[52]

The film came out in the summer of 1968 to critical acclaim.[64] Locke's performance garnered her an Academy Award nomination, as well as a pair of Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Newcomer.[65][66][j] She also won "Most Promising New Star of the Year" at the Show-A-Rama film exhibitor convention.[k] Although her salary for the film was reported in newspapers as $15,000, Locke later claimed it was less than one-third that amount.[30]

Commercial ups and downs, missed roles, TV work

Hoping to shed the Plain Jane image she accentuated in her screen debut, in January 1969 Locke posed for a semi-nude pictorial by photographer Frank Bez,[68] which was published in the December issue of Playboy.[69] The Playboy layout established Locke's status as a sex symbol, and the images were recycled in other men's magazines as her fame increased. Nearly three decades later, Locke said she still got those photos in fan mail for her autograph.[30]

With David Carradine in Kung Fu, 1974

Her next role was as Melisse in Cover Me Babe (1970), originally titled Run Shadow Run,[70] opposite Robert Forster. She made it as part of a $150,000 three-picture deal with 20th Century Fox, and was compensated for the other two which never came to fruition.[71][72] 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.[73][74] Locke was offered Barbara Hershey's role in Last Summer (1969), but her agent turned it down without telling her.[75] Shortly afterwards she passed on the lead in My Sweet Charlie (1970), which won an Emmy for its eventual star Patty Duke.[76]

In 1971, Locke co-starred with Bruce Davison and Ernest Borgnine in the psychological thriller Willard, which became a surprise box office smash.[77] Locke felt overqualified for her role but did it as a favor to Davison,[62] who at the time was her unofficial paramour.[78] She was then featured in William A. Fraker's underseen mystery 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.[79] Both films were shelved for two years before finally opening in arthouse cinemas, attracting little attention at first. Over time Suzanne has developed a cult following,[30][62] while Reflection is cited as an early example of media portrayals of transgender people.[80][l]

In 1973, Locke was attached to star in Terminal Circle. "It's a woman's role that comes along once in a lifetime," she said.[82] The San Francisco-set drama was to be directed by Mal Karman and shot by cinematographer Robert Primes, who did camerawork for Gimme Shelter, but it was scrapped for lack of funds.[82]

Locke guested on top-rated television drama series throughout the first half of the 1970s, including The F.B.I., Cannon, Barnaby Jones and Kung Fu. She was advised by her agents to stay away from TV, but thought it silly to sit around not working between films.[83] In the 1972 Night Gallery episode "A Feast of Blood",[84] she played the victim of a curse planted by Norman Lloyd; the recipient of a brooch that devoured her. Lloyd acted with Locke again in Gondola (1973), a racially themed, three-character teleplay co-starring Bo Hopkins, and commended the actress for "a beautiful performance - perhaps her best ever."[85]Ron Harper, who worked with Locke on the short-lived 1974 show Planet of the Apes, was even more effusive: "After acting with her in a couple of scenes, there was something so feminine about her that I could picture myself easily falling for her ... She's one of those women who exudes femininity, and you just become so attracted to that."[86]

Films with Clint Eastwood

In 1975, Locke was cast in The Outlaw Josey Wales as the love interest of Clint Eastwood's eponymous character.[87] Locke said she chose the role for its exposure,[88] following a run of unremarkable credits.[89] She took a pay cut just to be in the film; her salary for Josey Wales was $18,000 - less than half of what she'd earned for her previous job.[90] The film was one of the top 20 grossing films of 1976 and revived Locke's career.[91][92][93] She followed it up with a lead role alongside Eastwood in the popular action film The Gauntlet (1977), the duo replacing Steve McQueen and Barbra Streisand, who bowed out from the production due to a reported clash of egos.[94] Its pre-publicity touted Locke as "the first actress ever to be in a Clint Eastwood movie and get equal billing on screen with the macho star."[95] Eastwood unblushingly predicted that she would win an Oscar for her performance.[96] Locke wasn't even nominated and received mixed critical response at best: on the upside, Vincent Canby of The New York Times said "Locke is not only pretty, but also occasionally genuinely funny"[97] and Los Angeles Times critic Kevin Thomas stated that Locke "has not received such a rich opportunity since her Academy Award-nominated debut";[98] in contrast, Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune said "she's wasted here"[99] and TV Guide felt that "Locke is simply repulsive."[100]

Eastwood and Locke in The Gauntlet (1977)

Over the course of their decade-and-a-half-long personal relationship, Locke did not work in any capacity on any theatrical motion picture other than with Eastwood except for 1977's experimental horror western The Shadow of Chikara.[101] The home invasion film Death Game (1977), though released after they became an item, was actually shot in 1974.[102] "Clint wanted me to work only with him," said Locke.[30] "He didn't like the idea of me being away from him."[103]

In 1978, Locke and Eastwood appeared with an orangutan named Manis in that year's fourth highest-grossing film, Every Which Way but Loose.[104] She portrayed country singer Lynn Halsey-Taylor in the adventure-comedy. Its 1980 sequel Any Which Way You Can - for which Locke earned a six-figure salary plus a share of the profits[90] - was nearly as successful.[105] She recorded several songs for the soundtracks of these films and was whispered to be shopping for a record deal at the time. Honing her musical skills, Locke performed live in concert (one-off gigs) with The Everly Brothers, Eddie Rabbitt and Tom Jones.[106]

During this period, Eastwood did a few movies that had no prominent female character for Locke to play. In the meantime, she accepted some television offers, co-starring with an all-female ensemble cast in Friendships, Secrets and Lies (1979) and portraying Big band era vocalist Rosemary Clooney in Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story (1982).[107] While the biopic followed Clooney from age 17 to 40, Locke was 38 when she played the role.

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, though it still ranked among the annual box office top 25.[105]The New York Times critic Janet Maslin noticed that "each of them works more delicately here than they have together previously."[108][m] Locke cited Bronco Billy and The Outlaw Josey Wales as her favorites of the movies they made.[110] The couple's final collaboration as performers was Sudden Impact (1983), the highest-grossing film in the Dirty Harry franchise,[111] in which Locke played an artist with her own code of vigilante justice.[n][o] Her fee was a reported $350,000.[90]

Locke never appeared in a wide release after Sudden Impact.[113] The film premiered five months before her 40th birthday, the customary cutoff age for leading ladies of the era. Locke announced plans to develop and star in a movie about Marie Antoinette, but the project fell apart.[114] Eastwood then directed Locke in a 1985 Amazing Stories episode entitled "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.[115] When asked why she'd been absent from her longtime beau's recent star vehicles, Locke replied simply, "I wasn't right for the roles."[116][p]Ratboy had limited distribution 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.[117]

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. Siskel & Ebert gave the film "two thumbs up".[118] In a subsequent interview with Siskel, Locke said she wasn't eager to act again. "If you love the craft of filmmaking as much as I do, it's hard to go back to acting after you've tasted the high of directing."[7]

After a long interruption in her career due to personal and legal difficulties, Locke directed the made-for-television film Death in Small Doses (1995), based on a true story, and the independent feature Trading Favors (1997), starring Rosanna Arquette.

Memoir and final projects

In 1997, Locke's autobiography The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly: A Hollywood Journey was published by William Morrow and Company. In it she called Eastwood "a completely evil, manipulating, lying excuse for a man."[30] Eastwood's lawyers sent a warning letter to the publisher, and although no slander charges arose, Entertainment Tonight canceled a scheduled interview with Locke.[119] She was also bumped from The Oprah Winfrey Show and, in her words, "shut out of most venues to promote the book, in particular the networks."[120] The book received a rave and supportive review from New York Daily News writer Liz Smith,[121] while Entertainment Weekly's Dana Kennedy dismissed the book as a "peculiar, not terribly consequential, life story."[122]

Locke told a Spanish website that she'd been informed Entertainment Weekly originally planned to publish a positive review, but for reasons unclear, it was pulled and a negative review appeared instead.[120]The Advocate, a monthly LGBT-interest magazine, was set to do a big article on Locke's book; suddenly and uncharacteristically, Eastwood gave The Advocate an interview, and they decided not to run both pieces.[120] She reflected in 2012: "Clint has said so many bad things about me to the media since we split up, and he has so much more access and power to do that. He's said things that were hurtful to my character and hurtful to me professionally."[123] Locke was nonetheless grateful to have a platform at all, stating: "It was a miracle that a major publisher took it."[120]

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.[124] She came out of retirement once more in 2016, shooting Alan Rudolph's indie Ray Meets Helen with Keith Carradine.[125] The film was screened at Laemmle Music Hall on May 6, 2018, less than six months before Locke died.[126]


In 1992, Locke served as honorary chairwoman for the "Starry, Starry Night" silent auction in Costa Mesa, California to benefit Human Options, a shelter for victims of domestic violence. "Being a woman I have great empathy for these women. I can understand how stranded they must feel, how hard it is to change one's life," Locke said.[127]

Personal life

Mixed-orientation marriage

On September 25, 1967,[54] Locke married sculptor Gordon Leigh Anderson[q] (born August 2, 1944, Jonesboro, Arkansas) at the First Presbyterian Church in Nashville,[134] one week after The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter commenced principal photography.[52] She had known Anderson since 1956, when they met in seventh grade at Shelbyville Mills School.[r] In early 1969, as Locke was flooded with script offers after her Oscar nomination, she and Anderson left Tennessee and moved into a condo at The Andalusia in West Hollywood.[30]

According to a 1989 affidavit, the marriage was "tantamount to sister and brother" and they never consummated it.[136] Anderson is openly gay.[137][138][139][140] Locke, testifying under oath to a jury, characterized her husband as being "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."[141] According to her death certificate, the two were still legally married when she died,[s] and he was the person who reported her death.[143]

Anderson is front and center in Locke's autobiography, but she doesn't elaborate on her reasons for marrying him beyond the following passage:

However conventional or unconventional our marriage might turn out to be honestly did not concern me that much. I was very young, but I had come to feel that, for me, sex was the least important element in a relationship and the one thing that time had proven to me was that my love for Gordon came from such a deeply connected place that it transcended everything else.[30]


Given that Locke waited decades to confirm that her marriage was platonic, most of her actual romantic attachments went unpublicized. In the mid-1960s, she dated her supervisor at WSM-TV's PR department, Brad Crandall (1920-1973).[144][145][146] Former colleagues at the station have insinuated posthumously that Locke was promoted to the department through nepotism.[144] She started as secretary to Tom Griscom [1] in local sales for WSM Radio.[144][147]

George Crook, a cameraman for WSM, squired Locke to Nashville society events including the 1965 hunt ball.[148][149] He later got into local politics and was elected mayor of Belle Meade in 2000.[150] Locke was also rumored to have dated co-stars Bruce Davison (Willard), Paul Sand (The Second Coming of Suzanne) and Bo Hopkins (Gondola), as well as producer Hawk Koch and John F. Kennedy's nephew Robert Shriver.[78][151][152]

Locke alluded to these intervals as "casually exploring for a romantic relationship," noting that she had not fallen in love with any of the men. "Love ... was not something to search out actively; it finds you, I believed."[30]

Life with Eastwood

Chief Dan George with Locke and Eastwood at a barbecue in Santa Fe, New Mexico promoting The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Locke and actor/director Clint Eastwood entered a domestic partnership in October 1975.[38] She first met Eastwood in 1972 when she unsuccessfully lobbied for the title role in his film Breezy (1973);[153] they became involved upon arrival at the shooting location of The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) in Page, Arizona.[44] "It was just an immediate attraction between the two of us," Locke recalled in a 2012 documentary.[123] She revealed that they made love on their first date "several times. It was truly magic. Together, it seemed that, though we were two bodies, two hearts . . . in perfect accord we were one."[154] Locke had simultaneously been wooed by screenwriter Philip Kaufman but chose Eastwood over him.[109][t] After wrapping the film in December 1975, the couple shuttled between Eastwood's houses in Sherman Oaks and Carmel, as well as rented homes in San Francisco and Tiburon.[90] They eventually settled at 846 Stradella Road in Bel-Air,[38] which Eastwood still owns.[157]

Eastwood was married during the first several years of their relationship,[158][159] before their affair became public in 1978,[38] but if anything his marriage was as big a sham as Locke's: he'd sired at least two publicly unacknowledged children outside the marriage[90][160][161][162] and confided he'd "never been in love before."[163] Locke claimed Eastwood even sang "She Made Me Monogamous" to her.[158][163][164] Eastwood's wife Maggie Johnson lived on a colossal estate in Pebble Beach, where Eastwood rarely stayed,[30] and he and Johnson were understood to have had an open marriage from the start.[165] "I never knew I could love somebody so much, and feel so peaceful about it at the same time," Locke said he told her.[30] Conversely, the media's running narrative was that Eastwood "left"[137] or "walked out on"[152] his wife for Locke as opposed to simply giving up the facade. Locke resented being labeled as an affair and made to feel sleazy as if she'd "stolen" a married man, but did not refute it.[30]

Late in the 1970s, Locke fell pregnant by Eastwood twice;[90] she aborted both pregnancies.[166][u] "I'd feel sorry for any child that had me for a mother," she previously told columnist Dick Kleiner in 1969.[169] In 1979, at the age of 35, Locke underwent a tubal ligation at UCLA Medical Center, citing Eastwood's adamancy that parenthood would not fit into their lifestyle.[30] When this became public knowledge a decade after the fact, Eastwood issued a statement:

I adamantly deny and deeply resent the accusation that either one of those abortions or the tubal ligation were done at my demand, request or even suggestion. As to the abortions, I told Locke that whether to have children or terminate her pregnancies was a decision entirely hers. Particularly with regard to the tubal ligation, I encouraged Locke to make her own decision after she had consulted with a physician about the appropriateness of and the necessity for that surgical procedure.[27][170]

Locke professed mixed feelings on the matter, stating in one chapter of her autobiography that she was grateful she hadn't had Eastwood's children, while writing in another, "I couldn't help but think that that baby, with both Clint's and my best qualities, would be extraordinary."[30] Eastwood claimed Locke told him on multiple occasions that she never wanted to have children.[171]

Eastwood and Locke were still cohabiting when, in the latter half of the 1980s, he secretly fathered another woman's two children[172][173] - a fact that did not come to light for almost 20 years.[v] Despite her affirmed ignorance, Locke sensed growing tension in the relationship around 1985, recollecting that "although I definitely still loved Clint, I didn't very much like him."[30] In retrospect, she gathered "either he changed from white to black, or I had been living with somebody I didn't even know."[123]

Palimony suit

According to court testimony, Locke confronted Eastwood over his passive-aggressive behavior on December 29, 1988,[w] eliciting estrangement between the couple.[29][38] Locke testified that after she and Eastwood made their final public appearance on January 6 at the American Cinema Awards, they spent exactly two nights together,[152] without intimate contact.[90] Eastwood then effectively vacated their Bel-Air mansion, sleeping in the adjacent gardener's quarters or at his apartment in Burbank.[90] Locke thought Eastwood was acting out "because he wasn't number one at the box-office anymore, or because he was facing his mortality."[90] (Eastwood was 58 at the time.) As far as she was concerned their relationship was still salvageable.[177]

Michael Zelniker, Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke and Forest Whitaker promoting the film "Bird" at the Cannes film festival.
Michael Zelniker, Eastwood, Locke and Forest Whitaker promoting Bird (1988) at the Cannes film festival.

On the morning of April 3[170] or 4,[90] Eastwood complained in the kitchen that Locke was "sitting on my only real estate in Los Angeles" and bolted.[30] Locke later defensively declared: "Clint is not good at direct communication. He really is a man of few words. You might just as well have a direct confrontation with a wall."[178] On April 10, 1989, Malpaso employees changed the locks on the family residence, moved Locke's possessions into storage, and posted security guards at the front gate per Eastwood's order.[90] Locke was shooting Impulse (1990) at the time of the lockout;[120] she filed a $70 million palimony suit on April 26,[90][109] charging Eastwood with breach of contract, emotional distress, forcible entry and possession of stolen goods.[179]Forced abortions and compulsory sterilization were also cited, though Locke would later reclassify those operations as a "mutual decision."[90]

During their 14 years as husband and wife de facto, Locke and Eastwood had inhabited seven homes and acquired four, including a spacious retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho and the Rising River Ranch in Burney.[180][181] Locke sought half of Eastwood's earnings and an equal division of property,[182] requesting title to the house in Bel-Air and to the Gothic style West Hollywood place Eastwood had leased to Gordon Anderson since 1982.[38] She also asked Judge Dana Senit Henry to bar Eastwood from the Bel-Air house "because I know him to have a terrible temper ... and he has frequently been abusive to me."[183]

Locke battled Eastwood in court for 19 months; she developed breast cancer during the proceedings and said the treatments sapped her will to fight.[158] In November 1990, the parties reached a private settlement wherein Eastwood set up a $1.5 million, multi-year film development/directing pact for Locke at Warner Bros. in exchange for dropping the suit.[103] She got the West Hollywood property (valued at $2.2 million), about $500,000 cash and unspecified monthly support payments as well.[170] Eastwood kept their pet parrot Putty and renamed him Paco.[90]

The breakup affected Locke's social life. Her closest friends had been the wives of Eastwood's colleagues: Maria Shriver, Cynthia Sikes Yorkin and Lili Fini Zanuck, all 10-11 years younger than Locke and married to industry heavyweights Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bud Yorkin and Richard D. Zanuck respectively.[90] Locke's friendships with these women gradually became nonexistent as their husbands ghosted her.[119] The female comrades Locke credited with loyalty and support were those she'd known pre-Eastwood: art director Elayne Barbara Ceder, whom she met on The Second Coming of Suzanne, and realtor Denise Fraker, wife of A Reflection of Fear director William A. Fraker.[30]

Fraud suit

Between 1990 and 1993, Warner Bros. rejected more than 30 scripts that Locke pitched to the studio - including those for Junior (1994) and Addicted to Love (1997) - and refused to let her direct any of their in-house projects.[184][185][186] When her contract had yielded zero directing assignments three years in, Locke became convinced the deal was a sham.[187] She began to seek corroboration and came across incriminating printouts from WB's bookkeeping records.[90] Locke contended that the money WB pretended they were paying her came from Eastwood's pocket and was laundered through the operating budget of Unforgiven (1992).[30][62] In June 1995 she sued him again, for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.[188][189] 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.[190] Garrity added that Eastwood had held out the allegedly counterfeit deal "like a dangled carrot" to persuade Locke to drop the earlier palimony suit.[190] Locke said that she "was stunned and outraged at the way I had been tricked and cheated a second time."[30]

The case went to trial in September 1996.[191] One juror disclosed that the panel sided with Locke by a 10-to-2 vote (nine votes are needed for a verdict) and were only debating the amount.[192] Before any court decision could be made, Locke settled the case with Eastwood for an undisclosed amount of money.[192] The outcome, 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."[193] According to Locke, "in this business, people get so accustomed to being abused, they just accept the abuse and say, 'Well, that's just the way it is.' Well, it isn't."[38]

For his part, Eastwood waved the lawsuit off as a "dime-novel plot,"[192] continuing, "it's all about money ... about getting something for nothing."[194] He accused Locke of using her cancer to gain the jury's sympathy: "She plays the victim very well. Unfortunately she had cancer and so she plays that card."[195]

Locke brought a separate action against Warner Bros. for allegedly conspiring with Eastwood to sabotage her directorial career.[196] As had happened with the previous lawsuit, this ended in an out-of-court settlement, in May 1999.[197] By then, Locke had fired Garrity and hired Neil Papiano to represent her.[198][x] The agreement with Warner Bros., Locke said, was "a happy ending."[200] "I feel elated. This has been the best day in a long, long time," Locke said outside the courthouse.[201] The case is used in some modern law-school contract textbooks to illustrate the legal concept of good faith.[202]

Illness; last relationship

Locke practiced Transcendental Meditation[203] and worked out with weights, though she hated running.[204] In September 1990, she confirmed reports that she had breast cancer.[205] "Due to factors in my personal life, I have sustained two years of extreme and unnecessary stress, which my doctors tell me has been my enemy," Locke said at the time.[205] She added that Eastwood never communicated with her after her diagnosis: "He doesn't care if I live or die."[178][206]

Locke underwent a double mastectomy at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, followed by chemotherapy.[27] During treatment, she began dating Scott Cunneen (born September 10, 1961, Long Beach, California), an intern assigned to perform the post-surgical checkup.[61][109][119][207][208] Unfazed by their 17-year age difference - and the fact that Locke was only three years younger than his mother[209] - they soon went public with the romance, dining at paparazzi hotspot Spago on one of their early dates in November 1990.[210] Cunneen moved in with her in the spring of 1991.[30] She called it a "real, supportive, and equal relationship."[30]

In February 2001, Locke purchased a six-bedroom gated mansion in the Hollywood Hills, where she resided for the remainder of her life.[211] Built in 1925, the home's interior was redesigned to look like Locke's old house on Stradella Road.[123] She and Cunneen eventually broke up, albeit without publicity, since she had faded from public view.[y]

In 2015, after a 25-year period of apparent remission,[213] Locke's cancer returned and metastasized to her bones.[18]


Locke died at age 74 on November 3, 2018, at her L.A. home, from cardiac arrest related to breast and bone cancers.[214][215][216][217] Her remains were cremated on November 9, at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary and the ashes were given to her widower, Gordon Anderson.[18]

Locke's death was not publicized until December 13, the day before her ex's latest blockbuster The Mule (2018) opened in theaters nationwide. The Associated Press said "it is not clear why it took nearly six weeks to come to light."[143] According to the AP report, attempts to reach Anderson for comment were unsuccessful.[143] Locke left Anderson an estimated fortune of $20 million, and seemed to have always supported him financially.[122]


Locke is remembered as an early pioneer for women in Hollywood.[218] She was one of 11 female filmmakers in 1990, the year WB released her sophomore feature, Impulse.[219] By the time of Trading Favors (1997), her fourth effort, still only eight percent of all films were made by women, per the Directors Guild of America.[219]

Locke's influence as a feminist icon was duly acknowledged by the mainstream press. In 1989, Claudia Puig of the Los Angeles Times described her lawsuit against Clint Eastwood as a "precedent-setting legal case, as it raises the question of whether a woman, who is legally married to one man, can claim palimony rights from another."[101]Childfree by choice - unusual for a person of her generation[220] - Locke was among the first celebrities to publicly discuss her abortion experiences.[166] The disclosure made Locke "a talking-point in America's sexual politics debate," according to The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw.[137] Locke's subsequent relationship with a doctor young enough to be her son added to her notoriety.[221]

Locke in 1961

During the last third of her life, Locke maintained she was blacklisted from the film industry as a result of her acrimonious split from Eastwood;[62] his career moved forward unscathed.[38] Peggy Garrity, Locke's former counsel, recalled the courtroom drama in her book In the Game: The Highs and Lows of a Trailblazing Trial Lawyer (2016). Garrity revealed that Locke's 1999 confidential settlement from WB "was for many millions more than the settlement with Clint had been."[199]Locke v. Warner Bros. Inc also catalyzed changes within the legal system. In a landmark decision,[222] California's Supreme Court ruled that access to civil trials could no longer be closed off to the public.[223][224]

Other actresses admire Locke as someone who merited respect on the strength of her directorial accomplishments, however short-lived. Frances Fisher, who dated and had a child by Eastwood in the 1990s, applauded her predecessor for "her courageous battle with the cancerous patriarchal power structure in our industry."[225]Rosanna Arquette commented that Locke "had laser vision" and "was great with actors," adding, "It is horrible to be blackballed."[226]

Numerous outlets faced pushback over their chosen headlines for Locke's obituary. In what was deemed a sexist epitaph,[218][227][228] virtually every major publication prefaced news of her death by tagging Eastwood's name atop the article.[221] Fans on social media were quick to point out that Locke was an Oscar nominee before she even met him. Women's blog Jezebel criticized The Hollywood Reporter for depicting Locke as a nonentity;[229]THR subsequently changed its headline.[218] News organization TheWrap - whose editor, Sharon Waxman, reviewed Locke's memoir for The Washington Post in 1997 - opined that her story "should stir resonance in this age of the #MeToo movement."[218] In a tribute to the late actress, author Sarah Weinman wrote: "Sondra Locke, like Barbara Loden, deserves to be known for her work, not for the famous man she was disastrously involved with."[218]

Our Very Own

In 1971, fifth-graders at Eastside Elementary in Locke's hometown of Shelbyville, Tennessee were left star-struck when Locke made a visit and held pretend "auditions" in the class to show them what it was like in Hollywood.[40] One student, Cameron Watson, was inspired by Locke and is now an actor/director. Watson's period drama Our Very Own (2005) takes place in Shelbyville in 1978 and focuses on a group of teenagers who want to meet Locke when she returns to town for the local premiere of Every Which Way but Loose. Watson decided to do the movie after performing a standup routine about Locke and about how people in Shelbyville were obsessed with her.[230] Locke attended one of those performances in 2004 at the Tiffany Theater in West Hollywood. "The minute she heard the first reference to her or to her family, she threw up her arms: 'What the hell is this?'" Watson said. "By the end of the reading, she was doubled over."[231] Locke gave the script her blessing and accepted an invitation to be special guest at the film's premiere.[232] The movie was a "special gift" to Locke, according to Deborah Obenchain, another Eastside student who said she did not think Locke really understood her impact on the small town she once called home. "I think it meant just as much to her. ... In our own way ... we got to live out a little bit of our dreams by making the movie and meeting her."[40]


As actress

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1968 The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter Margaret '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 [234]
1971 Willard Joan [235]
1972 A Reflection of Fear Marguerite [235]
1972 Night Gallery Sheila Gray Episode: "A Feast of Blood" [236]
1972 The F.B.I. Regina Mason Episode: "Dark Christmas" [215]
1973 Cannon Trish Episode: "Death of a Stone Seahorse" [215]
1973 The ABC Afternoon Playbreak Nora Sells Episode: "My Secret Mother" [215]
1973 Gondola Jackie TV movie [215]
1974 The Second Coming of Suzanne Suzanne [215]
1974 Kung Fu Gwyneth Jenkins Episode: "This Valley of Terror" [215]
1974 Planet of the Apes Amy Episode: "The Cure" [215]
1975 Barnaby Jones Alicia Episode: "The Orchid Killer" [215]
1975 Cannon Stacey Murdock Episode: "A Touch of Venom" [215]
1976 Joe Forrester N/A Episode: "A Game of Love" [215]
1976 The Outlaw Josey Wales Laura Lee [215]
1977 Death Game Agatha Jackson [215]
1977 The Shadow of Chikara Drusilla Wilcox [237]
1977 The Gauntlet Augustina 'Gus' Mally [137]
1978 Every Which Way but Loose Lynn Halsey-Taylor [238]
1979 Friendships, Secrets and Lies Jessie Dunne TV movie [239]
1980 Bronco Billy Antoinette Lily Nominated--Razzie Award for Worst Actress [240]
1980 Any Which Way You Can Lynn Halsey-Taylor [241]
1982 Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story Rosemary Clooney TV movie [241]
1983 Sudden Impact Jennifer Spencer [241]
1984 Tales of the Unexpected Edna Episode: "Bird of Prey" [241]
1985 Amazing Stories Vanessa Sullivan Episode: "Vanessa in the Garden" [241]
1986 Ratboy Nikki Morrison Also director
Nominated--Razzie Award for Worst Actress
1999 The Prophet's Game Adele Highsmith (adult) [243]
1999 Clean and Narrow Betsy Brand [243]
2018 Ray Meets Helen Helen Final film role [244]

As director

Year Title Ref.
1986 Ratboy [245]
1990 Impulse [246]
1995 Death in Small Doses [247]
1997 Trading Favors [248]


Year Show Role Location Ref(s)
1962 Life with Father Mary Wickes Tucker Theater, Murfreesboro, Tennessee [35]
1963 The Crucible Mary Warren Tucker Theater, Murfreesboro, Tennessee [41]
1964 Life with Mother N/A Belcourt Playhouse, Nashville, Tennessee [249]
1964 The Innocents Flora Circle Theater, Nashville, Tennessee [250]
1964 A Thousand Clowns Dr. Sandra Markowitz Circle Theater, Nashville, Tennessee [251]
1965 Night of the Iguana Charlotte Goodall Circle Theater, Nashville, Tennessee [128]
1965 Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Sad Rosalie Circle Theater, Nashville, Tennessee [129]
1965 The Glass Menagerie Laura Wingfield Circle Theater, Nashville, Tennessee [130]
1967 Tiger at the Gates Helen of Troy Vanderbilt Theatre, Nashville, Tennessee [252]


  1. ^ During her Hollywood heyday, various dates were given by the press for Locke's birth. Contradictory sources have either directly cited, or implied, every year from 1943 to 1950,[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] and some of the more ludicrous PR gimmicks in the 1970s purported it to be as late as 1952[9][10][11] or 1956.[12][13] Her most commonly reported year of birth was 1947; Locke's publicist gave that year on several occasions when asked to clarify the discrepancies.[14][15][16] However, Locke's marriage license,[17] death certificate,[18] yearbooks,[19][20][21][22] and her entry on public records indexes,[17]FamilySearch[23] and Intelius[24] establish the year undoubtedly as 1944. "Untruths have been a way of life for her," one former associate wrote to the Shelbyville Times-Gazette when the disparity came up.[25] Said another past acquaintance who knew Locke in the 1950s: "She was two years younger than me in Central High, but it is really strange now, because she has now become five years younger."[25]
  2. ^ Sources are divided as to whether she was born in Alabama or Tennessee.[26] Locke said the latter.[27]
  3. ^ Smith may have died before Locke learned of him. The actress wrote in her autobiography that she found out he was her father "sometime during grammar school," but phrased all references to him in ambiguous past tense and was evasive when it came to specifying years (as confessing her age would've altered her persona and her whole public relations narrative). If one reads between the lines, it becomes ostensible that Locke's father was killed during World War II.
  4. ^ Bayne was also wed to painter Thomas H. Nelson between marriages to William Elkins and Alfred Locke, for less than eight months.[32]
  5. ^ In 1945, Locke briefly took the surname of her then-stepfather, Elkins, before her mother changed it again in 1948. Her legal name was changed four times during her first 24 years of life: from Sandra Smith to Sandra Elkins, to Sandra Locke, to Sondra Locke, to Sondra Anderson.
  6. ^ Notwithstanding their ongoing estrangement, Bayne vocally supported her daughter during the litigious war between Locke and Clint Eastwood. She told journalist Leon Wagener: "One of those children Clint made her abort could have been the grandson I've always wanted."[48]
  7. ^ After-the-fact publicity claimed that 2,000 actresses tried out for the role.[53]
  8. ^ Bonnie Bedelia told the 8 October 1967 Los Angeles Times that "they decided I was too old" when she auditioned for the same role as Locke.[57] As it turns out, Bedelia was four years younger than Locke, who had lied about her age. Wayne Smith, a UA student five years Locke's junior[58] played her love interest in the movie, even though his character is described as being a couple years older than she.
  9. ^ In the 1960s, The Billings Gazette[59] and The Nashville Tennessean[60] outed Locke for lying about her age, but it took decades for syndicated publications to catch on, and most sources would continue to use the incorrect birth year(s).[61] Locke admitted in The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly that she lied about her age early in her career, but claimed to have knocked only three years off, rather than six. In one of her final interviews, conducted in 2015 for The Projection Booth podcast, Locke said that she "was just graduating high school" when she made The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter when she was in fact in her mid-20s.[62] In addition to the lie about her age, an international press release from 1967 omits Locke's time at MTSU as well as her residence in Nashville, where she had moved in 1963 after dropping out of college.[60][63]
  10. ^ Even though Locke played the leading female role, Warner Bros.-Seven Arts campaigned for Best Supporting Actress instead of Best Actress during awards season, seemingly to make winning easier. She lost to Ruth Gordon for Rosemary's Baby. Ruth Gordon would later appear with Locke in Every Which Way but Loose and Any Which Way You Can.
  11. ^ Locke's plaque was stolen at Mid-Continent International Airport.[67]
  12. ^ A Reflection of Fear was not the first time Locke was considered to play a transsexual. In 1969, Christine Jorgensen, the Bronx man who became a woman in 1953 after surgery and medical treatment in Denmark, mentioned Locke and Mia Farrow as contenders for a planned film version of her life. A fan of Locke's performance in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Jorgensen observed that "in scenes where she didn't wear any makeup, Sondra looks very much like I did in my younger days. I think she might make an excellent choice."[81]
  13. ^ It's probably relevant that Bronco Billy was made at a crossroads in the couple's life. Filming occurred in autumn 1979, shortly after Locke took permanent measures to avoid motherhood by undergoing sterilization - a choice Locke said she was reluctant to make. "Her relationship with Clint never fully recovered from the abortions," writes biographer Marc Eliot.[109]
  14. ^ It has not gone unnoticed that four of the six Eastwood/Locke movies--The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Gauntlet, Bronco Billy, Sudden Impact--show Locke's character being sexually assaulted, and that their only onscreen teamings void of a token attempted rape scene--Every Which Way but Loose, Any Which Way You Can--happen to be the two films Eastwood didn't also direct. Moreover, only Sudden Impact has a plotline that calls for such a scene; the rest are just randomly there. This pattern is never addressed in Locke's autobiography or in Richard Schickel's volumes of Eastwood-devoted works.
  15. ^ Furthermore, 24 of the 47 films Eastwood has starred in during his five decades as a top-billed star depict violence against women. If you also count those he directed but didn't star in, he's made 17 films in which a female character is killed, 12 films depicting rape or attempt to rape, and 11 films showing a female character physically battered. This is particularly juxtaposing given Eastwood's self-proclamation as a "feminist filmmaker."[112]
  16. ^ Locke's autobiography provides a convoluted recollection of the casting process for City Heat (1984). Blake Edwards was originally slated to direct the film; Edwards promised Locke one of the two female leads at a stage in development when Burt Reynolds had signed on but the role of the other leading man was yet to be filled. Locke asserted that Edwards was merely using her to lure in her superstar boyfriend--who'd seen the script and turned it down--because once Eastwood came on board, Edwards stopped talking to Locke and cast Madeleine Kahn in the role she'd been eyeing. Edwards ultimately withdrew and was replaced by Richard Benjamin. Nevertheless, Eastwood disappointed Locke by not using his clout to get her in the movie.
  17. ^ Gordon Anderson went by the stage names 'C.B. Anderson'[128][129][130] and 'Gordon Addison'[131][132][133] during a brief acting career before he married Locke.
  18. ^ In magazine interviews, Locke and Anderson would variously claim to have met when they were 10,[34] 11[54] or 12.[135] Anderson, like his late wife, always lied about his age, thus contributing to the inconsistency.
  19. ^ For a long time it was falsely presumed that Locke and Anderson had divorced.[142]
  20. ^ Philip Kaufman started to direct Josey, but was fired at Eastwood's command on October 24, 1975, three weeks into filming.[90][155] Although Eastwood had conquered Locke within 48 hours of her arrival on set, initially she had declined his advances, having already said yes to a date with Kaufman at the costume fitting.[30] According to biographer Patrick McGilligan, Eastwood begrudged the fact that a younger man had beaten him to the punch and therefore felt inclined to assert his dominance by getting rid of Kaufman.[90] The love triangle resulted in the Director's Guild passing new legislation, known as 'the Eastwood Rule', which prohibits an actor or producer from firing the director and then becoming the director himself.[156]
  21. ^ 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."[167][168]
  22. ^ Although the existence of Eastwood's offspring by Jacelyn Reeves was reported in tabloids such as Star[174] and in Locke's autobiography during the 1990s, it continued to be ignored by reputable media sources until about 2006.[175] As late as 2003, for instance, A&E produced a two-hour, authorized Biography episode on Eastwood which gave the false impression he had a mere total of four children,[176] when he in fact has at least eight.[162][173]
  23. ^ Eastwood's passive-aggressive gestures toward Locke included inviting Jane Brolin - a woman he was having an affair with - to join Locke and himself on their annual ski trip to Sun Valley. The two women got into a row just before New Year's Eve, Locke recalling, "I wanted to hit her, to pull every hair out of her head."[30]
  24. ^ In June 1999, Garrity sued Locke to get paid for persuading the appellate court to reinstate Locke v. Warner Bros. Inc.[198] WB had requested summary judgement after the original March 1994 filing, which the court granted, but in August 1997 the decision was reversed.[109] Garrity put 2,500 hours of work into the case, only to be dumped by Locke and replaced by Papiano in May 1998.[198] Garrity won her lawsuit, and remarked that the payment would not have cost Locke a dime more than what was already going to legal fees, since it would simply have come out of Papiano's one-third contingency fee.[199]
  25. ^ The exact year of this breakup is not known with certainty. The Notable Names Database, an infamously flawed source, cites 2001.[61] Seeing the split was never formally announced, the said timeframe might just be a ballpark guesstimate inferred from Locke's real estate transactions, as the L.A. Times reported she unloaded one of her properties that year.[212]

See also


  1. ^ Miranda C. Herbert, Barbara McNeil (1985). Biography and Genealogy Master Index, Volumes 1-5. Gale Research Company. ISBN 0810315068.
  2. ^ Roberts, Jerry (2009). Encyclopedia of Television Film Directors. Scarecrow Press. p. 345. ISBN 978-0810863781.
  3. ^ Editors of Chase's Calendar of Events (2011). Chases Calendar of Events, 2012 Edition. McGraw Hill Professional. p. 287. ISBN 978-0071766739.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Film Actors, Volume 5. Hollywood Creative Directory (Firm), IFilm Publishing, 2002
  5. ^ a b Sondra Locke opens door to fame Marjory Adams, The Boston Globe, August 27, 1968
  6. ^ Clint, Sondra Loom As Big New Team Earl Wilson, Fort Lauderdale News, December 1, 1977
  7. ^ a b Siskel, Gene (May 6, 1990). "Sondra Locke's Step". Chicago Tribune.
  8. ^ Locke Exercises Control Over 'Ratboy,' Her Career Nancy Mills, Los Angeles Times, August 19, 1986
  9. ^ The Charlotte News, 3.24.79
  10. ^ Austin American-Statesman, 3.25.79
  11. ^ The Boston Globe, 4.22.79
  12. ^ Barbara Lewis, The Salina Journal, 8.8.76
  13. ^ Scranton Tribune, 8.14.76
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "One Way to Gain Stardom". Terry Kay, The Atlanta Constitution, June 6, 1971
  16. ^ Sondra's a Nice Girl, Despite What Studio Says Dayton Daily News, August 10, 1968
  17. ^ a b "Gordon Leigh Anderson, Sondra Louise Locke". Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. Date: 9-25-67; Name of Female Applicant: Sondra Louise Locke; Born: 5-28-44; Age: 23
  18. ^ a b c Trock, Gary; Walters, Liz (December 15, 2018). "Clint Eastwood's Longtime GF, Sondra Locke Died from Cardiac Arrest". The Blast.
  19. ^ a b 1959 Shelbyville Central High School Yearbook
  20. ^ a b 1960 Shelbyville Central High School Yearbook
  21. ^ a b 1961 Shelbyville Central High School Yearbook
  22. ^ a b 1962 Central High School Yearbook
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  24. ^ Sondra L Anderson, Phone Number, Address & Background Info Intelius
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  28. ^ Various compilers, "Vaughn Family Group Sheets", Jim Freeman received these Family Group Sheets at a Bell family reunion for descendants of David Vaughn.
  29. ^ a b c Furtado, David (August 31, 2013). "Sondra Locke's The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly: The Woman with a Name". Wand'rin' Star.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Locke, Sondra (1997). The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly: A Hollywood Journey. William Morrow and Company. ISBN 068815462X.
  31. ^ Madison County, Alabama Brides - Page 29
  32. ^ Pauline Bayne, "Alabama County Marriages, 1809-1950"
  34. ^ a b Armstrong, Lois. "Taking Up The Gauntlet".People, February 13, 1978.
  35. ^ a b c "MTSC Presents". The Daily News Journal. November 2, 1962. p. 7.
  36. ^ Sondra Relates to True Self Lydia Lane, Los Angeles Times, January 3, 1971
  37. ^ Sondra un-Lockes Film Golden Gates Dick Kleiner, Philadelphia Daily News, October 9, 1968
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i James Robert Parish (2006). The Hollywood Book of Breakups. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 1630262080.
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