Here's how much Clint Eastwood made from his first acting contract

Hint: It's not much!

CBS Television Distribution

Even the biggest stars have to start somewhere. It's funny how it works; the grander the destination, the more inauspicious the beginnings seem. With the success Clint Eastwood has achieved throughout his career, any starting point is going to seem humble by comparison.

Before the Korean War, Eastwood had jazz aspirations. Inspired by Charlie "Bird" Parker", Eastwood fantasized about enrolling at Seattle University's music department around 1951. However, when the war began, Eastwood was forced to attend military training at Fort Ord, Monterey. It was while on lifeguard duty at the military camp's pool that Eastwood first met a group of young actors who nudged him to consider acting.

1953 saw the eventual Rawhide star enter Los Angeles City College, where he intended to study business administration. However, he spent most of his time in the drama department. The contacts he made at LACC brought about his first screen test, at Universal Studios in 1954.

According to Clint Eastwood by Bernard Bénoliel, Eastwood hated his screen test, fearing he'd ruined his acting career before it could start.

Despite Eastwood's doubt, Universal Studios was interested enough to make the young actor an offer. The contract, starting May 1, 1954, and finishing at the end of October the following year, paid $75 a week and was intended to mold Eastwood into a future star. It was a standard contract, for the time, and was consistent with those signed by other young actors at the start of their careers.

Even though it was hardly a living, Eastwood signed the contract, accepting Universal Studios' offer. He joined a stable of up-and-coming actors who pushed Eastwood to learn more about his craft.

While not many of Eastwood's first decade of movie roles were credited, he used the time to expand on and study the art of acting. 

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3 Comments

Runeshaper 2 months ago
Seems like that $75 a week paid off in the long run!
cperrynaples 2 months ago
Fun Fact: Years later, Eastwood would direct a biography of Charlie Parker! It starred Forest Whiteger [SP?] who ironically hosted TZ 3.0 in the early 2000's!
Peter_Falk_Fan 2 months ago
In today's money, that's a little more than $870 a week.
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