Actress Sondra Locke, longtime Clint Eastwood co-star and partner, has died

Gwynne Watkins
Sondra Locke (Photo: Everett Collection)
Sondra Locke (Photo: Everett Collection)

Academy Award nominee Sondra Locke died over a month ago on Nov. 3 at age 74, Yahoo Entertainment has confirmed with the Los Angeles County Clerk’s office. According to, which says it obtained the actress’s death certificate, Locke (whose legal name is Sondra Locke Anderson) died from cardiac arrest due to breast and bone cancer. There has been no prior media coverage of her death, though earlier this week, filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson posted an Instagram story consisting of Locke’s film stills and the message “RIP Sondra Locke.” Locke has reportedly been interred at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary in Los Angeles.

Born in Tennessee in 1944, Locke made her film debut in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968), an adaptation of Carson McCullers’s hugely popular 1940 novel about outcasts in the rural South. During a nationwide talent search to cast the lead role of Mick, 20-year-old Locke reportedly bound her breasts to convince producers that she was 15 years old. For that performance, she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Watch the original trailer for The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter:

Locke may be best remembered, however, for her roles in the films of actor-director Clint Eastwood. She and Eastwood met while making The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), an encounter that Locke later called love “at first sight” — although Eastwood was still married to first wife Maggie Johnson. (Locke was also legally married, to lifelong best friend Gordon Anderson; however, he is openly gay and their relationship was not romantic. They never divorced.)

Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke on the set of <em>The Outlaw Josey Wales</em> (Photo: Everett Collection)
Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke on the set of The Outlaw Josey Wales (Photo: Everett Collection)

Locke and Eastwood’s relationship lasted 13 years, during which time they made a string of successful films, including Every Which Way But Loose (a goofy 1978 blockbuster that co-starred an orangutan), the hit rodeo romp Bronco Billy (1980) and the fourth Dirty Harry film, Sudden Impact (1983).

Watch the trailer for Every Which Way But Loose:

When Locke and Eastwood’s personal relationship ended in 1989, Locke sued him for palimony. They reached a settlement that reportedly included a three-year, $1.5 million development deal for Locke to direct films at Warner Bros. (She had already directed two films, Ratboy and Impulse.) After Warners rejected more than 30 pitches from Locke, she sued Eastwood for fraud, accusing him of sabotaging her career; the suit was settled for an undisclosed amount in 1999. She chronicled her difficult romance with Eastwood and subsequent career struggles in her 1998 memoir The Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly: A Hollywood Journey.

Locke went on to direct two more films and do occasional acting work. Her final film, the indie romantic comedy Ray Meets Helen, was released earlier this year.

The actress was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989 and had a double mastectomy. According to Radar, her cancer returned three years ago.

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