The Washington Post Sunday
Starred in films with companion Eastwood
Sondra Locke, an actress nominated for an Oscar for her first film role, as a gentle spirit in 1968’s “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,” and who went on to co-star in six films with her longtime companion Clint Eastwood, whom she later sued for palimony as the relationship deteriorated, died Nov. 3 at her home in Los Angeles. She was 74.
The cause was cardiac arrest stemming from breast and bone cancer, according to a death certificate obtained by the Associated Press. Authorities were promptly notified at the time, but her death was not publicized until Radar Online first reported it Dec. 13. It was not clear why it took nearly six weeks to come to light.
Ms. Locke was an obscure actress before winning a nationwide talent search in 1967 to be cast opposite Alan Arkin in the movie adaptation of Carson McCullers’s novel “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”
She lost the Oscar for best supporting actress to Ruth Gordon for “Rosemary’s Baby” and had a run of unmemorable film and TV roles until meeting Eastwood on the set of the Western “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (1976), which he directed and starred in.
They dated for the next 13 years, and her career mirrored his. The pair’s hit films also included the 1978 street-fighting and orang- utan comedy “Every Which Way But Loose” and its 1980 sequel, “Any Which Way You Can.” Their last screen outing together was the Dirty Harry movie “Sudden Impact” in 1983.
Ms. Locke also played singer Rosemary Clooney in a 1982 TV biopic and directed the 1986 film “Ratboy,” which flopped in the United States but was popular with critics in Europe.
In 1989, Ms. 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 legal dispute for an undisclosed amount during jury deliberations in 1996.
The following year, she released her memoir, “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,” Ms. Locke said. “Also, that in even the worst ugly things there can sometimes be a lot that will make you a better person.”
Sandra Louise Smith — she would later take on a stepfather’s last name and the stage name Sondra — was born May 28, 1944, and grew up in Tennessee. She worked at a radio station and appeared in a handful of plays before being discovered for “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”
Ms. 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.