Onscreen he blows away the bad guys; in real life he blows me away. With his sensitivity, his range of talents, his ability to grow at this point in life. Most people, especially those with healthy bank balances and a string of achievements, would spent their seventies enjoying the rich rewards of a successful life. Instead, Clint Eastwood is working more than ever, branching out into new directions as an artist. An actor, director, producer, politician, environmentalist, developer, musician–he even sings in the credits of his latest movie. Who would have guessed that the Man with No Name—would turn out to be a renaissance man?
Not me, even though I always admired him. Aside from my father and brother, I think my completely one-sided fascination with Clint has to be the longest-lasting relationship I”ve ever had with a man. When other pre-teens were obsessed by Frankie Avalon or Fabian, I adored JFK and Rowdy Yates, the scruffy handsome cowboy Clint played on Rawhide. Maybe this started because our parents severely restricted our TV viewing. Rawhide was one of only two shows we were allowed to watch. And it’s unlikely I would have fallen for Raymond Burr as Perry Mason.
But Clint had charisma, and I thought he was my own private discovery. Until he hit the big screen. My college boyfriend shared my interest in Clint. I’d go along with his group of guys who imitated his persona and lived for the release of every new spaghetti western and endlessly played the soundtrack to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
I can’t tolerate most violent movies, but throughout his career, I always forgave Clint. Maybe I suspected there was a sensitive soul under those chiseled cheekbones and steely eyes.
How ironic that years later I’d end up in Carmel–where the first question every tourist always asks is whether Clint is still the mayor.
He’s not; and I moved here after he gave up electoral office. But he’s still the local hero. And when I watched him tonight on the Golden Globes, thinking about the incredible imagination, creativity, and scope of what he’s achieved just since he turned 70, I was thinking, he’s still my hero, too.