New Jack City: Clint Eastwood–Hollywood’s Real Mensch

Clint Eastwood‘s Super Bowl commercial for Chrysler has garnered him renwed attention and respect…

The kind I bet he wishes might have been timed closer to the release of his latest (directed) picture J. EDGAR starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Even Saturday Night Live tipped its hat to the venerable Hollywood legend this past Saturday.

So what is Eastwood like in real life?

I’m here to tell you that with Clint, what you see is what you get. And I know that for a fact!

I had four personal encounters with Eastwood during my term as president and chairman of the United Motion Picture Association which sponsored and produced the annual SHOW-A-RAMA movie convention in Kansas City. The other was during my days as Director of Marketing for Commonwealth Theatres.

Here’s how it went down.

Clint always took real interest in all of the facets of the motion picture industry, including the latest theatrical innovations. And so as not to interrupt the goings on at the convention’s trade show floor he asked me to give him a personal after hours walk-through. He was interested in everything. From the latest in sound reproduction devices to popcorn poppers. It made for a pleasureable evening.

The next time Clint was in town for SHOW-A-RAMA his hotel suite at the Westin Crown Center was directly next door to a friend of mine’s, John Shipp‘s. At the time, Shipp owned and operated a large independent film distributorship called Thomas & Shipp Films.

And late one evening Clint must’ve gotten bored sitting alone in his suite and all the partying noise coming out of Shipp’s suite must’ve piqued his curiosity.

You guessed it. Before long Clint was partying with us into the wee hours in Shipp’s suite.

Fast forward a couple more years and Clint was back at the convention again. But this time he wanted to get away from the hotel for a while, so we took one of our limos and headed for THE END ZONE, a happening nightclub near the Country Club Plaza.

Once inside, it didn’t take long for the ladies to start hitting on Eastwood.

Matter of fact, the evening eventually turned into a catfight over Clint between two hotties.

Clint watched, then asked the loser to dance. Then he disappeared for the remainder of the evening and I took the limo back to the hotel—alone.

Finally jumping ahead to 1980, just prior to the release of BRONCO BILLY which co-starred Eastwood with his then new squeeze Sondra Locke. Not only had Clint directed the picture but his company, Malpaso Productions, had produced it in conjunction with Warner Brothers.

The film was being test screened one weekend at our then flagship Ranch Mart Theater with several Warner Brothers bigwigs in attendance. But Clint couldn’t make it for the test screening.

But come Monday morning my secretary paged me in the Commonwealth home office building.
"Jack you’ve got to get out of your meeting. I’ve got Clint Eastwood on hold for you," she said excitely.

What did Clint want?

Well he apparently had already gotten an earful of reactions from the Warner Brothers suits who had attended the Ranch Mart screening. But Clint wanted my review. And not only of the film but of the crowd’s reaction as well.

I didn’t sugarcoat it either. I told him that the audience reaction was not exactly overwhelming.

The bottom line; I was flattered.

So now you know why Clint Eastwood always has been and continues to be a very special bookmark in my movie career.
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One Response to New Jack City: Clint Eastwood–Hollywood’s Real Mensch

  1. jon says:

    good times
    I remember the convention well. It was always a big deal for KC. The Star and TV always gave it big play even thought it wasn’t open to the public. Why didn’t it continue here?

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