Sondra Locke Dies: Oscar Nominee & Clint Eastwood Co-Star/Ex Was 74

Sondra Locke

Sondra Locke, who earned an Oscar nomination for her first film and went on to co-star with then-boyfriend — and later nemesis — Clint Eastwood in a half-dozen films, has died. She was 74.

Locke died November 3, but her death has just been reported. Radar Online first reported the news, saying she died of complications from breast and bone cancer.

Locke scored a Supporting Actress Oscar nom for 1968’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, her screen debut. She also picked a pair of Golden Globes noms for the film as Supporting Actress and Most Promising Newcomer.


She continued to work in film and television into the mid-1970s, when Eastwood cast her in his 1976 Western The Outlaw Josey Wales. They would go on to star together in The Gauntlet (1977), Bronco Billy (1980) and the Dirty Harry film Sudden Impact (1983) — all of which Eastwood also directed — along with the streetfighter romp Every Which Way but Loose (1978) and its 1980 sequel Any Which Way You Can. They and the other human actors often were upstaged in the latter two by the antics of the scene-stealing orangutan called Clyde.

Locke also recorded songs for both Which Way soundtracks.

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Locke and Eastwood had an often contentious relationship for more than a dozen years, which ended in a bitter palimony suit she filed against him in 1989. They settled after about a year, but she later sued him again in the mid-’90s for what the suit claimed was a sham development and directing deal at Warner Bros that Eastwood had set up. That suit was settled out of court. She then brought a separate lawsuit against Warners, which also was settled out of court.

Her 1997 memoir was titled The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly, riffing on one of Eastwood’s most popular film roles.

Locke worked sparingly onscreen after Sudden Impact, which was the highest-grossing of the five Dirty Harry movies. She starred in and directed 1986’s Ratboy, about a kid who was born half-rat. Locke later would direct two features — Impulse and Trading Favors — in the 1990s, along with the telefilm Death in Small Doses.

Born Sandra Smith on May 28, 1944, in Shelbyville, TN, Locke studied drama at Middle Tennessee State. She appeared in local theater before winning a talent search for the role of Michelle “Mick” Kelly opposite Alan Arkin in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. He also picked up an Oscar nom for the film.

Locke went on to appear in films including Color Me Babe and A Reflection of Fear and guested on such TV series as The F.B.I., Cannon, Barnaby Jones and Night Gallery before landing the Outlaw Josey Wales gig.

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