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American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood The boy who would one day become famous for playing the Man with No Name did not have a well defined self image or a strong role model to follow growing up In his formative years his father, forever in search of a steady job during the Great Depression, developed a deceptive California suntan, the mark of a hardworking outdoor laborer trying to avoid poverty rather than a man of sun worshipping leisure and privilegeClinton and Francesca Ruth sometimes recorded as Margaret Ruth, although she only used Ruth as her given name were two good looking California kids who met while attending Piedmont High School in Oakland They dated each other and married young, before the market crashed and took with it their romantic dream of the good life Ruth s family was Dutch Irish and Mormon with a long line of physical laborers, including pickup fighters, lumberjacks, sawmill operators, and an occasional local politician She graduated from Anna Head School in Berkeley, where she had been transferred to from Piedmont just before her senior yeara move that may have been prompted by her parents concern over an intense relationship she had begun with her high school sweetheart, Clinton Eastwood Clinton was a popular, well liked boy with strong American roots his ancestors were pre Revolutionary War Presbyterian farmers and men who sold goods by traveling from town to town, their carts bearing inventory samples such as women s underwear and soap used to elicit orders from their customers In the days before mail order catalogs, most goods were sold this way outside the big American citiesDespite Ruth s parents attempts to put some distance between her and the economically deficient Clinton, upon graduating from high school they were married, on June in a ceremony held at Piedmont s interdenominational church Both newlyweds were lucky enough to find enough work to keep them going during the first years of their marriage Ruth eventually landed a job as an accountant for an insurance company, and Clinton found one as a cashier When the stock market crashed in October , they clung to these jobs tenaciouslyAlmost three years after their marriage, on May Clinton Jr was born The boy weighed a whopping eleven pounds, six ounces, and was nicknamed Samson by all the nurses at San Francisco s St Francis HospitalAt about this time Clinton Sr managed to land a job selling stocks and bonds At a time when stocks and bonds had been rendered all but worthless, Clinton was following the family tradition he was now a glorified cart man, weaving from town to town looking for those few elusive customers with enough cash to invest in their own future and therefore in his That he got by at all was likely due to his natural charm and good looksBut even those could only get him so far, and soon Clinton was selling refrigeration products for the East Bay Company, a position whose long range prospects were little better than those of a seller of stocks and bonds People had to have enough money to buy food before they could invest in ways to keep it cold So in , after the birth of their second child, a girl they named Jeanne, Clinton took to aitinerant life, moving the family by car to wherever he could find pickup work In a couple of his earliest recollections, Clint later said of those times Well, those were the Thirties and jobs were hard to come by My parents and my sister and myself just had to move around to get jobs I remember we moved from Sacramento to Pacific Palisades just so my father could work as a gas station attendant It was the only job open Everybody was in a trailer, one with a single wheel on one end, and the car, and we were living in a real old place out in the sticksMy father was big on basic courtesies toward women The one time I ever got snotty with my mother when he was around, he left me a little batteredThe attendant job was at a Standard Oil station on Sunset Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway, near a stretch of Malibu beach that was rapidly becoming the suburb of choice for the nouveau riche of the Hollywood film industryone of the few businesses that actually benefited from the Depression Films were both cheap and fanciful, the ultimate escape for those who could not afford to live out the American dream themselves but loved watching others do it for them on screen Those who lived in this part of town drove big cars that used a lot of gas, so Clinton had plenty of work For the time being it was a good enough living if not exactly a great life From the money he made he was able to rent a small house in the lush, hilly Pacific PalisadesOn his off days Clinton and Ruth took their children to one of the public beaches adjacent to Malibu for an afternoon of sun and swimming One day Clinton, who was an excellent swimmer, dove into a wave with Clint sitting in the saddle of his shoulders Big Clint came back up but little Clint didn t After a few heart stopping moments Ruth saw her boy s foot sticking up and bobbing in the water She screamed With some help from alert nearby swimmers, Clinton was able to pull him up Afterward Ruth sat in the cool muddy turf with her little Clint and splashed him playfully to make sure he wouldn t become afraid of the surfA year later, in , the gas station job dried up, and the Eastwoods were onceon the move They gave up the house in Pacific Palisades and took a smaller one for less rent in Hollywood, a few miles farther inland Soon afterward they swung back north to Redding, then to Sacramento, then to the Glenview section of the East Bay of San Francisco Finally they settled back down in the Oakland Piedmont area, where Clinton worked a series of dead end jobs Clint, by now, had attended several schools, necessitated by the family s continual relocations I can t remember how many schools I went to, he later recalled I do remember we moved so much that I made very few friends In , after their long loop through the tough times of California, the family settled long enough for young Clint, now nine, to enroll in Piedmont Junior High SchoolFollowing the December Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, America s entry into World War II brought new defense driven work Clinton managed to secure a draft exempt job in the shipyards with Bethlehem Steel, and Ruth found day work at the nearby IBM centerOn the brink of adolescence, six foot Clint was the tallest boy in his class he would reach his full height, six four, by the time he graduated from high school He was also, by all accounts, one of the best looking students He had inherited his father s strong, broad shoulders, rugged good looks, and seductive half closed eyes He had a finely shaped, aristocratically turned up nose and a thick bush of brown hair that fell in a curly dip over his forehead The look was tough, but he was shy, likely the product of his family s vagabond journey through the Depression years Being left handed also made him feel like an outsider, as his teachers forced him to use his right handHe enjoyed playing high school sportshis height made it easy for him to excel at basketballbut that did little for his social skills His teachers warned his parents that he had to be brought out of his shell if he was to make something of himself One of them, Gertrude Falk, who taught English, had the class put on a one act play and cast a reluctant young Clint in the lead He was less than thrilledI remember Gertrude Falk very well It was the part of a backward youth, and I think she thought it was perfect castingshe made up her mind that I was going to play the lead and it was disastrous I wanted to go out for athletics doing plays was not considered the thing to do at that stage of lifeespecially not presenting them before the entire senior high school, which is what she made us do We muffed a lot of lines I swore at the time that that was the end of my acting careerClint also didn t do well academically, and his schoolmates and teachers considered him something of a dummy Besides sports, the only other subject that held any interest for him was musicnot the kind of big band sound that was popular with the older kids, but jazz He liked to play it on the piano, something that he correctly believed enhanced his attractiveness to girls He even learned the current pop tunes that he had no use for but that made them flock around himWhen I sat down at the piano at a party, the girls would come around I could play a few numbers I learned a few off listening to records and things that were popular at that era I thought this was all right, so I went home and practicedI would lie about my age and go to Hambone Kelly s I d stand in the back and listen to Lu Watters and Turk Murphy play New Orleans jazzI grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King ColeLester Young, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Fats Navarro, Thelonious Monk, Erroll GarnerAnd he loved cars ForClint s father bought him a beat upChevy to help him keep his paper route job Clint nicknamed it the Bathtub because of its missing top Its best accessory was, of course, the girls The Chevy, which didn t last very long, was only the first of a long line of his beat up cars To pay for them all and the gas and repairs, Clint took extra after school jobs on top of his paper route He worked at the local grocery and as a caddy at the golf course he baled hay on a farm in nearby Yreka, cut timber near Paradise, and was a seasonal forest firefighter All these jobs were purely physical, the type of work he could forget about as soon as he punched out But they were time consuming and exhausting, even for a young and strong teenage boy They left him even less time for his studies at Piedmont High, and when his parents and school authorities realized he wasn t going to graduate with a regular academic degree, he transferred to tThe story of a man who goes from small time jazz pianist and gas station attendant to Hollywood leading man reads like a rich movie plotline All the sex, brawls, and gunslinging are here PlayboyPraise forReagan The Hollywood Years A fascinating portraitNewsweek Eliot s book is poised to provide something interesting a fresh look at subject matter well worth dusting off The genesis of Reagan s later public persona is closely charted hereNew York TimesPraise forJimmy Stewart It was a wonderfuland longlife, and Eliotcovers it allUSA TodayElucidates how a skinny guy with zero sex appeal molded himself into an enduring starEntertainment Weekly Stewart deserves critical reassessment and a seat closer to the front row of the film pantheon Eliot makes a solid case for Stewart s merits, and he gives us a decent, eminently likable manHollywood ReporterPraise forCary Grant A fascinating and thorough portraitEliot does a good job of cracking the screen fantasyEsquire Highly readableGlimpses of the debonair leading man s dark side are the most intriguing elements of this welcome biographyPeople three starsKeeping the actor s astonishing career firmly in view, Eliot assembles a portrait that shows the dark shadows behind the gleaming facade, while also revealing Grant s own shrewdness in maintaining that fictional personaWashington Post