Sondra Locke in The Gondola (1973)
Sandra Louise Smith
(1944-05-28)May 28, 1944
|Years active||1968–1999, 2017|
Gordon Anderson (m. 1967)
|Partner(s)||Clint Eastwood (1975–1989)|
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 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 had worked with Clint Eastwood, who was her companion for over 13 years. Her autobiography, The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly – A Hollywood Journey, was published in 1997.
Sandra Louise Smith was born on May 28, 1944, to New York City native Raymond Smith, then serving in the military, and Pauline Bayne, a pencil factory worker from Huntsville, Alabama. Her parents separated before her birth. In her autobiography, Locke noted that “although Momma would not admit it, I knew Mr. Smith never married my mother”  She has a maternal half-brother, Donald (b. April 26, 1946) from Bayne’s subsequent brief marriage to William B. Elkins. When Bayne married Alfred Locke in 1948, Sandra and Donald adopted his surname. She grew up in Shelbyville, Tennessee, where her stepfather owned a construction company.
Locke was a cheerleader and class valedictorian in junior high. She attended Shelbyville Central Senior High School, where she was again valedictorian and voted “Duchess of Studiousness” by classmates, graduating in 1962. She then enrolled at (but did not graduate from) Middle Tennessee State University, majoring in Drama. Later, Locke worked in the promotions department for WSM-TV in Nashville when she lived there for approximately three years and modeled for The Tennessean fashion page. She changed the spelling of her first name in her early 20s to avoid being called Sandy.
Locke won a nationwide talent search in 1967 for the part of Mick Kelly in a big-screen adaptation of Carson McCullers‘s novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter opposite Alan Arkin. Prior thereto, she had starred in some half-dozen theater productions with husband Gordon Anderson for Circle Players Inc. Released in the summer of 1968 to critical acclaim, Heart garnered Locke the Academy Award nomination, as well as a pair of Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Newcomer.
Her next role was as Melisse in Cover Me Babe (1970), originally titled Run Shadow Run, opposite Robert Forster. It was announced that she would play the lead in Lovemakers, a film adaptation of Robert Nathan‘s 1960 novel The Color of Evening, but no movie resulted. In 1971, she co-starred with Bruce Davison and Ernest Borgnine in the psychological thriller Willard, which became a box office hit. She was also featured in William A. Fraker‘s A Reflection of Fear (1972), and held the title role in The Second Coming of Suzanne (1974) with Paul Sand and Jared Martin.
Throughout the first half of the 1970s, Locke guested on television drama series, including The F.B.I., Cannon, Barnaby Jones and Kung Fu. In the 1972 Night Gallery episode “A Feast of Blood”, she played the victim of a curse planted by Norman Lloyd; the recipient of a brooch that devoured her. Lloyd acted with her again in Gondola (1973), a three-character teleplay with Bo Hopkins, and remarked that Locke gave “a beautiful performance – perhaps her best ever.”
Her career reached a turning point in 1975, when she took a supporting role in The Outlaw Josey Wales as the love interest of Clint Eastwood‘s eponymous character. This was followed by a lead role alongside Eastwood in the hit action film The Gauntlet (1977). Over the course of their personal relationship, Locke did not work in any capacity on any theatrical motion picture other than with him except for 1977’s western The Shadow of Chikara. The home invasion film Death Game, though released after they became an item, was actually shot in 1974.
In 1978, Locke and Eastwood appeared with an orangutan named Manis in that year’s second highest-grossing film, Every Which Way But Loose. She portrayed country singer Lynn Halsey-Taylor in the adventure-comedy. Its 1980 sequel, Any Which Way You Can, was nearly as successful. Locke recorded several songs for the soundtracks of these films and has performed live in concert with Eddie Rabbitt and Tom Jones.
Locke starred as a bitter heiress who joins a traveling Wild West show in Bronco Billy (1980), her only film with Eastwood not to become a major commercial success. She cites Bronco Billy and The Outlaw Josey Wales as her favorites of the movies they made together. The couple’s final collaboration as performers was Sudden Impact (1983), the highest-grossing film in the Dirty Harry franchise, where Locke played a vengeful artist who systematically murders the men who had gang-raped her and her sister a decade earlier.
In 1986, Locke made her feature directorial debut with Ratboy, a fable about a boy who is half-rat, produced by Eastwood’s company Malpaso. Ratboy only had a limited release 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. Concentrating almost exclusively on directing from that point onward, 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. Later, she directed the made-for-television film Death in Small Doses (1995), based on a true story, and the independent film Do Me a Favor (1997) starring Rosanna Arquette.
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.
Locke married sculptor Gordon Leigh Anderson on September 25, 1967. She has stated in court papers that the marriage was never consummated and described her relationship with Anderson (reportedly a homosexual) as “tantamount to sister and brother.” According to Locke, her husband is “more like a sister to me.”
From 1975 until 1989, Locke cohabited with actor Clint Eastwood. They had first met in 1972, but became involved while filming The Outlaw Josey Wales. In the late 1970s, Locke had two abortions.[n 1] “I’d feel sorry for any child that had me for a mother,” she told syndicated columnist Dick Kleiner in 1969. After the second abortion she underwent a tubal ligation, stating in her autobiography that her decision to have the procedures was due to Eastwood’s adamancy that parenthood would not fit into their lifestyle. Eastwood secretly fathered another woman’s two children during the last three years of their relationship.
In 1989, Locke filed a palimony suit against Eastwood after he changed the locks on their Bel-Air home and moved her possessions into storage while she was on the Impulse set. Following a year-long legal battle, the parties reached a settlement wherein Eastwood set up a film development/directing pact for Locke at Warner Bros. in exchange for dropping the suit. Locke sued Eastwood again for fraud in 1995, alleging the deal with Warner was a sham—the studio had rejected all of the 30 or more projects she proposed and never used her as a director. 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. Locke settled the case with Eastwood out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. The outcome of the case, 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.”
Locke brought separate action against Warner Bros. for allegedly conspiring with Eastwood to sabotage her directorial career. As had happened with the previous lawsuit, this ended in an out-of-court settlement, in 1999. The agreement with Warner Bros., Locke said, was “a happy ending” after “five years of torture.” “I feel elated. This has been the best day in a long, long time,” Locke said outside the courthouse. The case is used in some modern law-school contract textbooks to illustrate the legal concept of good faith.
Locke is a breast cancer survivor, having undergone a double mastectomy and chemotherapy in 1990. During treatment, she began dating one of her surgeons, Scott Cunneen. Cunneen is 17 years younger than Locke. He moved in with her in 1991. In 2001, Locke purchased a six-bedroom home in the Hollywood Hills.
Locke died on November 3, 2018 from cardiac arrest related to breast and bone cancers. She was buried at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary.
|1968||The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter||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|
|1972||A Reflection of Fear||Marguerite|
|1972||Night Gallery||Sheila Gray||TV series; episode: “A Feast of Blood”|
|1972||The F.B.I.||Regina Mason||TV series; episode: “Dark Christmas”|
|1973||Cannon||Trish||TV series; episode: “Death of a Stone Seahorse”|
|1973||The ABC Afternoon Playbreak||Nora Sells||TV series; episode: “My Secret Mother”|
|1973||The Gondola||Jackie||TV movie|
|1974||The Second Coming of Suzanne||Suzanne|
|1974||Kung Fu||Gwyneth Jenkins||TV series; episode: “This Valley of Terror”|
|1974||Planet of the Apes||Amy||TV series; episode: “The Cure”|
|1975||Barnaby Jones||Alicia||TV series; episode: “The Orchid Killer”|
|1975||Cannon||Stacey Murdock||TV series; episode: “A Touch of Venom”|
|1976||Joe Forrester||N/A||TV series; episode: “A Game of Love”|
|1976||The Outlaw Josey Wales||Laura Lee|
|1977||Death Game||Agatha Jackson|
|1977||The Shadow of Chikara||Drusilla Wilcox|
|1977||The Gauntlet||Augustina “Gus” Malley|
|1978||Every Which Way But Loose||Lynn Halsey-Taylor|
|1979||Friendships, Secrets and Lies||Jessie||TV movie|
|1980||Bronco Billy||Antoinette Lily|
|1980||Any Which Way You Can||Lynn Halsey-Taylor|
|1982||Rosie: The Rosemary Clooney Story||Rosemary Clooney||TV movie|
|1983||Sudden Impact||Jennifer Spencer|
|1984||Tales of the Unexpected||Edna||TV series; episode: “Bird of Prey“|
|1985||Amazing Stories||Vanessa Sullivan||TV series; episode: “Vanessa in the Garden”|
|1999||The Prophet’s Game||Adele Highsmith|
|1999||Clean and Narrow||Betsy Brand|
|2017||Ray Meets Helen||Helen|
- 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.”