I Don’t Know Him…
People often ask me if I know Clint Eastwood. My answer is no, but during the times I have interacted with him over the past 20 years, he has always been gracious and witty as well as generous with his time.
My first encounter with him was back in 1999, when I was launching the magazine Carmel Style, which after two issues morphed into Carmel Magazine. Clint, and then wife Dina, had agreed to be on the cover of the first issue, but by the time I had heard of their willingness to participate, I was three days from printing. They agreed to be on the second cover, and we later met at Clint’s Mission Ranch property for interviews and a photo shoot.
When he arrived on the scene, I introduced myself and asked some questions that were for personal consumption before the writer and photographer had his attention. I probably asked him cliché questions that he had been asked a zillion times by others, but my curiosity was genuine. I asked him of all the movies that he had acted in or directed, could he pick a personal favorite?
He grinned and said he couldn’t, but that he liked many of his movies for different reasons. He liked the character actors in “The Outlaw Josie Wales,” like Chief Dan George. He liked working with people who he had respected for years, like Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman in “Unforgiven.”
It was indirectly through Clint that I met a mutual friend. That man was the late Dr. Bill Wattenburg, a genius, a scientist and a longtime radio host on KGO. Dr. Bill had been at a fundraiser at Eastwood’s Tehama Golf Club and had taken some photos of his friends Clint and Dina. He wanted to share them with us as he was a fan of the magazine and had met my wife Kelli who was photographing the event for Carmel Magazine.
When I heard Dr. Bill’s voice on the phone, I was shocked as I had been listening to that man for decades on KGO radio and his voice was very distinct. As we became friends, he invited my family to stay in his house and cabins up in Greenville, California, which is near Lake Almanor.
I will never forget those trips. Dr. Bill had known Clint since they were young, and Clint had included Dr. Bill in a few movies, as well as filmed “Pink Cadillac” at Dr. Bill’s cabins. One night, while sitting up very late drinking with him in his main house, Dr. Bill told me stories about Clint, and they were truly a testament to his generosity and soul.
Clint was filming “Pink Cadillac” and they were shooting a specific scene. A small group of locals were there watching the production. Clint noticed a young boy who was wearing a pair of glasses with one cracked lens. He halted production and walked up to the boy and his grandfather and asked, why was the boy wearing broken glasses? The grandfather said they did not have enough money to fix them. Clint then shut down production at his own expense to get the kid to town to buy him some new glasses. It is not cheap to stop production on a film set for several hours, but it was well worth it to Clint that day.
One time when my wife Kelli was up at the Eastwoods’ Pebble Beach house doing a photo shoot with Dina, Clint greeted Kelli and was excited to introduce her to his pet rats. He had two cages and the rats were separated by boys and girls. He seemed to love them and took one out and put it on Kelli’s shoulder. Soon the rat reached for Clint, showing Kelli the rat preferred him. They also had a pig, a rabbit, and a tortoise. Clint’s genuine affection for his pets was undeniable. He probably prefers animals to most people, as do I.
Clint’s movies all seem to reflect a little or a lot of his personality. I have seen most all of them and some many times. I am a fan. Like I said, I don’t know him, but I do have a great deal of respect for him and thank him for the years of entertaining us through his amazing career as an actor, director and one-time mayor of Carmel.