Oscar-nominated actress Sondra Locke dies at 74; co-starred in 6 films with Clint Eastwood
Actress and director Sondra Locke, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her first film role in 1968’s “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” and went on to co-star in six films with Clint Eastwood, has died.
Locked died Nov. 3 at her Los Angeles home of cardiac arrest stemming from breast and bone cancer, according to a death certificate obtained by the Associated Press. She was 74. Authorities were promptly notified at the time, but her death was not publicized until RadarOnline first reported it Thursday. It is not clear why it took nearly six weeks to come to light.
Locke was best known for the six films she made with Eastwood — whom she dated for 13 years — starting with the Western “The Outlaw Josey Wales” in 1976 and ending with the Dirty Harry movie “Sudden Impact” in 1983.
Born Sandra Louise Smith — she would later take on a stepfather’s last name and the stage name Sondra — Locke grew up in Tennessee, where she worked at a radio station and appeared in a handful of plays before winning a nationwide talent search in 1967 to be cast opposite leading man Alan Arkin in the movie adaptation of Carson McCullers’ 1940 novel “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.”
She would win raves for the role along with nominations for a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Both awards went to Ruth Gordon for “Rosemary’s Baby.”
She had a run of unmemorable film and TV roles until meeting Eastwood on the set of “Josey Wales,” which he directed and starred in.
Her career would mirror his for the next several years. The pair’s hit films also included the 1978 street-fighting and orangutan comedy “Every Which Way But Loose” and its 1980 sequel “Any Which Way You Can.”
Locke also played singer Rosemary Clooney in a 1982 TV biopic, and directed the 1986 film “Ratboy,” which flopped in the U.S. but was popular with critics in Europe.
In 1989, Locke’s charmed life came to an end as Eastwood broke up with her, she later wrote. The locks were changed and her things were placed outside a home she thought had been a gift from Eastwood.
She sued Eastwood for palimony then later sued him for fraud saying a movie development deal he arranged for her was a sham to get her to drop the palimony suit. They settled the highly publicized lawsuit for an undisclosed amount during jury deliberations in 1996.
The following year she released her memoir, titled “The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly: A Hollywood Journey,” which also detailed the double mastectomy and chemotherapy that came with her first bout with breast cancer.
She told the AP at the time that the title, a play on one of Eastwood’s films, was “applicable to the story.”
“I try to cover the good years as well as the bad and the ugly,” Locke said. “Also, that in even the worst ugly things there can sometimes be a lot that will make you a better person.”
Locke had married actor Gordon Anderson in 1967. According to her death certificate, the two were still legally married when she died, and he was the person who reported her death. She described their relationship to the AP in 1997 as just good friends. A phone number listed in Anderson’s name rang without being picked up.
Penny Marshall costarred as a Milwaukee brewery worker in the 1970s sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” before becoming a director of hit movies such as “Big” and “A League of Their Own.” With “Big,” she made history as the first woman to direct a film that grossed more than $100 million. She was 75.
During George H.W. Bush’s single term as president, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed. In 1991, Bush formed a U.S.-led coalition that drove the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, the U.S. military’s most successful offensive since World War II. But dissent within the GOP and economic woes hobbled his bid for reelection in 1992, and he lost to Bill Clinton.(Marcy Nighswander / AP)
Stephen Hillenburg created the animated Nickelodeon series “SpongeBob SquarePants.” The show won Emmys in the U.S. and Britain, was translated into more than 60 languages and sparked huge merchandising opportunities worldwide. He was 57.(Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images for Paramount)
Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci infused politics and psychological depth into such era-defining films as “Last Tango in Paris” and “The Last Emperor.” The Oscar winner influenced a crop of emerging filmmakers, including Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese. He was 77.(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman penned the scripts for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men.” His 1983 book, “Adventures in the Screen Trade,” asserted that there were no easy answers in show business. He was 87.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Country star Roy Clark headlined the cornpone TV show “Hee Haw” for nearly a quarter century. The guitar virtuoso was known for such hits as “Yesterday When I Was Young” and “Honeymoon Feeling.” He was 85.(Mark Humphrey / AP)
Writer Stan Lee helped create Spider-Man and other superheroes, transforming Marvel Comics into a powerhouse brand. The blockbuster films based on his characters racked up billions at the box office. He was 95.(David Livingston / Getty Images)
Computer programmer Paul Allen, right, founded Microsoft with Bill Gates when he was 22. He walked away eight years later with what would become one of the largest fortunes in the history of American capitalism. He was 65.(Jim Hallas / Eastside Journal / Associated Press)
Hall of Fame slugger Willie McCovey was a career .270 hitter with 521 home runs and 1,555 RBIs in 22 major league seasons, 19 of them with the San Francisco Giants. He also played for the Athletics and Padres. He was 80.(AP)
Burt Reynolds reigned as Hollywood’s wisecracking, good-ol’-boy box-office champ in the late 1970s and early ’80s in movies such as “Smokey and the Bandit” and “The Cannonball Run.” He made pop culture history as Cosmopolitan magazine’s first nude male centerfold. He was 82.(Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images)
Neil Simon’s comic touch in “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot in the Park” and many other hits on stage and screen made him the most commercially successful playwright of the 20th century — and perhaps of all time. From “Come Blow Your Horn” in 1961 to “45 Seconds From Broadway” in 2001, 30 of Simon’s plays opened on Broadway, including five musicals for which he wrote the book. He was 91.(Dan Grossi / Associated Press)
Arizona Sen. John McCain survived 5½ years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam to become one of the highest-profile, most confounding and pugnacious personalities in American politics. As a twice-defeated presidential candidate, he used his celebrity to heighten his influence in Congress and emerge as one of the GOP’s most prominent leaders. He was 81.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was one of the world’s most celebrated diplomats, despite presiding over some of the worst failures and scandals at the world body. He served two terms, from Jan. 1, 1997, to Dec. 31, 2006, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the U.N. in 2001. He was 80.(Shawn Baldwin / Associated Press)
Known as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was nominated for 44 Grammy Awards, and won 18. Her hits include “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Chain of Fools.” She was 76.(Anonymous / Associated Press)
British author V.S. Naipaul, who was born in Trinidad, won the 2001 Nobel Prize in literature for his “incorruptible scrutiny” of postcolonial society. His books explored colonialism and decolonization, exile and the struggles of the everyman in the developing world. He was 85.(Chris Ison / Associated Press)
Jonathan Gold richly chronicled the city’s vast culinary landscape as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times restaurant critic. One of the most widely admired voices in food criticism, Gold wrote about restaurants for four decades and became indelibly linked with the city in which he was born and raised. He was 57.(City of Gold)
John Mack rose to become one of L.A.’s most influential black figures during his long tenure running the city chapter of the Urban League and later spent eight years on the Police Commission. He helped lead the city past the infamous Rodney King beating and 1992 riots and later helped oversee reform of the Los Angeles Police Department. He was 81.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
After spending more than two decades in New York kitchens, Anthony Bourdain rose to fame with his 1999 New Yorker essay, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” which became the basis for his bestselling book, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.” His willingness to speak his mind and ability to connect with the people made him a likable TV personality on the Food Network, the Travel Channel and CNN. He was 61.(Andy Kropa / Associated Press)
Margot Kidder was best known for her seminal performance as Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in the “Superman” franchise. The actress also became a mental health activist and received the Courage in Mental Health Award from the California Women’s Mental Health Policy Council in 2001. She was 69.(Associated Press)
George Deukmejian served two terms as California governor and built his career on fighting crime, hardening the state’s criminal-justice stance and shoring up its leaky finances. He spent almost 28 years in Sacramento, enjoying a reputation as someone of unquestioned integrity but whose manner was so severe that he earned the nickname “Iron Duke.” He was 89.(Joe Kennedy/ Los Angeles Times)
Verne Troyer delighted legions of fans with his comically wicked portrayals of Mini-Me, a foil to comedian Mike Myers in the “Austin Powers” spy movie sendups. Other credits include “Men in Black,” “Bubble Boy” and the goblin Griphook in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Troyer, who was 32 inches tall, had achondroplasia dwarfism. He was 49.(Melinda Sue Gordon / New Line Cinema)
Tim Bergling, the Swedish DJ and producer who performed as Avicii, helped kick-start the electronic dance music explosion of the 2010s. Bergling was one of EDM’s first crossover pop successes in the U.S. He was 28.(Amy Sussman / Invision / Associated Press)
Barbara Bush is the second woman in U.S. history to have been the wife of one president, George H.W. Bush, and the mother of another, George W. Bush. Though she wielded a behind-the-scenes influence, she was known for her wit, self-deprecation and work on literacy and volunteerism. She was 92.(Associated Press)
Stephen Hawking’s contributions to theoretical physics are frequently compared to those of Albert Einstein. As the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, he changed the way the universe is viewed through his seminal theories about the nature of black holes and the origin of the universe. Hawking carried out complex mathematical calculations in his head and communicated through a speech-generating device because of a degenerative neuromuscular disease that gradually paralyzed him over the decades. He was 76.(Joe Giddens / TNS)
Miloš Forman came of age as a filmmaker in postwar Czechoslovakia, and his memory of totalitarianism would forever be his muse. In every one of his films, including “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Ragtime,” “Amadeus,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and “Man on the Moon,” Forman celebrated real-life outsiders and eccentrics who challenged the establishment with heroic self-expression. He was 86.(Clark, Robert / For the Times)
Mitzi Shore was regarded as the godmother of comedy in Los Angeles. Her Comedy Store was one of the most important showcases for stand-up in the country. She influenced the careers of comedians such as David Letterman, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, Bob Saget and dozens of other readily identifiable names. She was 87.(The Comedy Store)
The former wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was also a prominent anti-apartheid activist and politician. She campaigned relentlessly for her husband’s release during his 27-year imprisonment, raised two daughters alone, faced harassment by South African security forces and served more than a year in prison. In later life, she was a member of South Africa’s parliament, but scandals cut her influence in the ruling African National Congress. She was 81.(Walter Dhladhla / AFP/Getty Images)
Steven Bochco was the driving force behind some of TV’s most popular series for more than 30 years, with a specialty for serialized dramas with large ensemble casts and edgy plot points. The television writer-producer who brought “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and “NYPD Blue” to the small screen was nominated for 30 Emmys and won 10. He was 74. Full obituary(Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)
Appointed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter, Stephen Reinhardt was dubbed the “liberal lion” of the federal circuit courts. His rulings in favor of criminal defendants, minorities and immigrants were often overturned by the more conservative U.S. Supreme Court. He was 87. Full obituary(Jamie Rector / For The Times)
Linda Brown’s desire to attend an all-white school prompted the 1954 Supreme Court decision that bore her father’s name and helped overturn racial segregation in the United States. She was 76.(Associated Press)
Charles Lazarus founded Toys R Us and transformed it into an iconic piece of Americana. The World War II veteran’s business model became one of the first retail category killers: big stores that are so devoted to one thing, and have such an impressive selection, that they drive smaller competitors out of business. He was 94.(Cheryl Chenet / Corbis via Getty Images)
Hubert de Givenchy dressed Audrey Hepburn for seven of her movies and once shipped a black dress overnight to Jacqueline Kennedy when she requested it for the funeral of her husband. One of the first French fashion designers to create an international empire under his signature, Givenchy had a statuesque physique, perfect grooming and Old World manners. He was 91.(Kiki Huesca / EPA / Shutterstock)
Billy Graham, the most dominant American pastor of the second half of the 20th century, lifted evangelism into the religious mainstream and through the power of his voice and personality united the often fractious worldwide evangelical community. He counseled nearly every American president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. He was 99.(Associated Press)
Wally Moon became part of the Dodgers lineup shortly after the team moved west from Brooklyn. The wiry outfielder with the old-school crew cut helped take the Dodgers to the World Series three times and became a crowd favorite for his towering “Moon shots.” He was 87.(Los Angeles Dodgers)
As the executive in charge of NBC’s daytime programming in the early 1970s, Lin Bolen was the highest ranking woman in television and an agent of change. Bolen was so driven, so confident and so energetic that many co-workers were convinced that Faye Dunaway’s ratings-obsessed character in the film “Network” was based on her. She was 76.(Judd Gunderson / Los Angeles Times)
Warren Miller was a ski bum who became a prolific maker of skiing films. He released a 90-minute movie every year for more than five decades and built a media business that included commercials and promotional films. He was 93.(Associated Pres)
President Nixon appointed Romama Acosta Bañuelos, center, as U.S. treasurer in 1971, the first Latina to hold that position. A founder of the first bank for Mexican Americans in California, she helped open doors that Latinos in the U.S. often found closed to them. She was 92.(Associated Press )
Mathilde Krim rose to prominence as an AIDS researcher and global crusader in the early fight against the deadly disease. Both fascinated and horrified by the mysterious virus that was taking a heavy toll on gay communities across America, Krim sought to both understand the disease and raise funds for better and quicker research. She was 91.(Gino Domenico / For The Times)
In a 52-year career, Keith Jackson covered an array of sports for radio and TV, but he was best known as ABC’s voice of college football — and for the homespun phrases he used in reporting it. Linemen were not guards and tackles, they were “the big uglies.” And, of course, there was “Whoa, Nellie!,” which became known as his signature phrase. He was 89.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A Los Angeles art world fixture, Ed Moses was one of the city’s most productive and experimental artists of the last half-century. Moses formed the “Cool School” of artists — which included Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin, Larry Bell, Edward Kienholz, John Altoon, Ken Price and Billy Al Bengston — at L.A.'s influential Ferus Gallery in the 1950s and ‘60s. He was 91.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Often called the “Father of South African jazz,” Hugh Masekela was also an anti-apartheid activist who succeeded in fusing politics with his music, making his songs and performances compelling and timeless. The trumpeter, flugelhornist, singer and composer was affectionately known locally as “Bra Hugh.” He was 78.(Pius Utomi Ekpei / AFP/Getty Images)
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.