56 Years of Entertainment, Dozens of Causes, One Really Cool Guy
Imagine this year marks your eighty-first birthday. See yourself sharp as a whip, continuously learning, and contributing meaningfully to the world. Know that you are inspiring people across the globe to contemplate uncomfortable world events and situations. You’re a real Renaissance person: a golf enthusiast, talented jazz pianist and composer, helicopter pilot, and you speak Italian fluently. You have seven children and are happy in your marriage. You have received accolades and awards not only for your ambitious professional efforts, but also for creating a positive impact in the world. Oh, and women still go wild over you.
You’d have a lot to be proud of and it would certainly be understandable if it went to your head a little bit. But if you’re Clint Eastwood, you’re humble and unassuming, and just continue to generously give of yourself.
Morgan Freeman, acclaimed actor and one of Eastwood’s dear friends was recently quoted in an article about Eastwood in AARP The Magazine. He said, “(Clint is) someone who never gets wrapped up in himself.”
In nearly six decades, Eastwood has acted in, directed, produced and even created music for countless TV shows and movies. Eastwood has ventured out into nearly every genre of film and has enriched audiences worldwide by considering difficult subjects.
Charlie Rose said during an interview with Eastwood, “You have done everything one might like to do in the world of making movies.”
The ball really got rolling for Eastwood when he became a household name, starring as Rowdy Yates in the television series Rawhide (1959-65), and as police inspector Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry films (1970’s-1980’s). Since Rawhide, Eastwood has appeared in, directed and produced movie upon movie in every decade since the fifties in a variety of genre’s including western, comedy, romance, action and drama. He has been called “the most quoted, most imitated, and the most respected man in Hollywood.”
Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, and winner of 5 (including the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, given periodically at the Academy Awards to high quality creative producers), Eastwood has received impressive recognitions, awards and honors from countries the world over. France has honored him twice with two of their highest civilian awards—in 1994 he was awarded the Order of Arts and Letters for his extraordinary contribution to the arts, and in 2007 he received the Legion of Honor, the highest decoration in France. Back home in America, President Obama honored Eastwood with the National Medal of Arts. He won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture Actor four separate years and another year won it in the Favorite All-Time Motion Picture Star category.
In an interview with Charlie Rose, Eastwood spoke about Flags of Our Fathers, (2006) and later that same year, Letters to Iwo Jima. Eastwood’s first of the two films depicted the American perspective, while the second film, told of the famous WWII battle from the Japanese viewpoint. Eastwood said he likes to be challenged and believes it’s important for people to think about subjects that move us emotionally. He loves to explore new things and to continuously grow. Says Eastwood, the secret is to “always be looking to open up and expand your horizons and enjoy life and enjoy the new things you can express.”
Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) also loved these two and many others of Eastwood’s films. They chose Eastwood as their first-ever recipient of the “Jack Valenti Humanitarian Award” in 2007. According to M & C Movie News, the award is presented “to an individual in the motion picture industry whose work has reached out positively and respectfully to all countries, creeds and cultures…(who) possesses an unwavering dedication and respect for the dignity of others.” MPAA’s chairman, Dan Glickman, said Eastwood has continuously demonstrated “decency and goodness in his moviemaking.” Eastwood was celebrated for his heartfelt contributions through these two WWII movies and Glickman added, “These films exemplify the true power of movies to tell human stories and inspire national conversation.”
Three years after making these two thought-provoking movies, Eastwood directed and produced Invictus. This film addressed the racial tensions from South Africa’s apartheid and the events in that country that followed this period of discrimination, including the famous 1995 Rugby World Cup where Nelson Mandela, the newly elected first black president, showed his support at the white dominated games.
The communities in which Eastwood’s films are shot often benefit from his involvement with them. After filming The Bridges of Madison County in Des Moines, Iowa, Eastwood’s production company raised money to restore local bridges. While directing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in Savannah, Georgia, Eastwood served as host of a benefit to raise money for both the Lucas Theatre for the Arts as well as the Frank Callen Boys and Girls Club. His company had used both facilities for staging areas and food service.
While he’s not busy in front or behind the camera, Eastwood supports, endorses, contributes to, and becomes involved with numerable causes. Two years ago, he endorsed a new charity called Image of Change, whose website describes their vision as “a philanthropic brand management agency and collective platform to bring together high-profile humanitarians. Their personal, as well as, shared commitment to be positive role-models, mentors and activists of global change will transform the way society identifies giving back.” Founder and President of Image of Change, Jodie Blum, is delighted to talk about Eastwood, who she’s helped with numerous charitable projects. “He is one of my favorite people,” she said enthusiastically. “Everything he does comes from such a good, genuine place. He is a true gentleman in every sense of the word.”
The legendary gentleman is a man of action on many fronts. In 1986, he was elected mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. He is committed to land preservation and using sustainable energy resources. Governors Gray and Schwarzenegger appointed him to the California State Park and Recreation Commission in 2001 and again in 2004 respectively. He opposed a six-lane sixteen-mile extension of a toll road that would have cut through San Onofre State Beach, where Eastwood enjoyed surfing during his youth.
Yet another of Eastwood’s love s is golf, although he jokes that sticking to making movies has been a better choice professionally. Still, he uses his interests to benefit others. Eastwood serves as the Monterey Peninsula Foundation’s Board Chairman. They are a charitable organization that distributes monies from the proceeds of the AT & T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on the PGA Tour and The First Tee Open on the Champions Tour. The First Tee’s mission is “to impact the lives of young people, providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”
Eastwood has helped raise both awareness and funds for countless events and causes throughout the world including City of Hope for cancer research, treatment and education, Artists for Peace & Justice, founded by Oscar winning screenwriter Paul Haggis to bring about peace and social justice, and Best Friends Animal Society which hopes to create a time where there are “No More Homeless Pets.”
The Hollywood icon once said, “You have to do the best you can with the life you’re given.”
At nearly eighty-one years old, Eastwood continues to do just that.