With his rugged good looks and icon status, Clint Eastwood was long one of the few actors whose name on a movie marquee could guarantee a hit. Less well-known for a long time (at least until he won the Academy Award as Best Director for Unforgiven), was the fact that Eastwood was also a producer/director, with an enviable record of successes. Born May 31, 1930, in San Francisco, Eastwood worked as a logger and gas-station attendant, among other things, before coming to Hollywood in the mid-'50s. After his arrival, he played small roles in several Universal features (he's the pilot of the plane that napalms the giant spider at the end of Tarantula ) before achieving some limited star status on the television series Rawhide. Thanks to the success of three Italian-made Sergio Leone Westerns -- A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) -- Eastwood soon exchanged this limited status for bona fide international stardom.
Upon his return to the U.S., Eastwood set up his own production company, Malpaso, which had a hit right out of the box with the revenge Western Hang 'Em High (1968). He expanded his relatively limited acting range in a succession of roles -- most notably with the hit Dirty Harry (1971) -- during the late '60s and early '70s, and directed several of his most popular movies, including 1971's Play Misty for Me (a forerunner to Fatal Attraction), High Plains Drifter (1973, which took as its inspiration the tragic NYC murder of Kitty Genovese), and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). Though Eastwood became known for his violent roles, the gentler side of his persona came through in pictures such as Bronco Billy (1980), a romantic comedy that he directed and starred in.