Father Figures

ALL FATHERS ARE larger than life to their children. But what happens when Father also happens to be larger than life to the rest of the world?

Dad may be intelligent and authoritative, but what if he is also Walter Cronkite? Dad may be stern and steely-eyed, but what if he is also Clint Eastwood?

Kathy Cronkite, daughter of Walter Cronkite--often called "the most trusted man in America"--was intrigued enough by celebrity fathers to write a book called "On the Edge of the Spotlight." She quickly found that not every star child has it easy. One of the first Hollywood children she approached simply said: "I don't know anything about my childhood. I've blocked it all out."

After an often-rebellious childhood and efforts to be an actress, Kathy Cronkite eventually found herself veering toward her father's path. She now hosts a morning talk show on KLBJ-AM in Austin, Tex.

"I think my father and I learned a lot from each other--and more as we got older and mellower, rather than being in the power struggle we were in when we were younger," she says. "My teens lasted until I was in my mid-20s. And yes, I was a difficult teen-ager; it was the mid-'60s, what do you want?"

Having a television father figure for a father caused a clash of parental images. "It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I realized that when I talked about my father, I'd refer to him as Dad. When I talked about him in his professional role, I'd refer to him as Walter Cronkite."

What manner would you expect of Kyle Eastwood, the 6-foot-2, 19-year-old son of Clint Eastwood, a son whose father can silence a room just by narrowing his eyes?

"I'm pretty much used to it," Kyle says, shrugging. "People do think that my father is the same as he appears in movies, which he isn't, really. It's almost like there are two people. Sometimes it shows through (in movies), the way he really is, but most of the time it's pretty much an act. Most of my close friends know. He's pretty much an ordinary guy in real life.

"As far back as I can remember, I remember being on movie sets. I was born during the filming of 'Where Eagles Dare.' I think the first set I was on was 'Paint Your Wagon.' "

Kyle was often by his father's side, but he knew that work comes first in an actor's life. "Maybe it was kind of hard . . . but there was a lot of good about being his son."

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