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Sondra Locke Deserved Better Than The Hollywood Reporter’s Take on Her Life

Sondra Locke's obituary focused less on her career and more on Clint Eastwood's abuse

Imagine being an actress and director with your own career, but when you die, your obituary is framed around being an “embittered exe” of an abusive man because he’s more of a household name than you are. That, readers, is what has happened to Sondra Locke, who passed away yesterday evening. The Hollywood Reporter initially referred to Locke as Clint Eastwood’s embittered exe in their headline, which they later changed after pushback.

The obituary opens with “Sondra Locke, the Oscar-nominated actress who made six movies with Clint Eastwood before their relationship disintegrated and she sued him for palimony and then fraud, has died. She was 74.” It’s hard to imagine going for that as a headline when others, such as The Wrap, have praised Locke’s work fighting for her rights and women’s rights in Hollywood.

The Hollywood Reporter notes some of the allegations made against Eastwood, but skips over the fact that Eastwood forced Locke to have two abortions and surgery to sterilize herself. They do, however, make sure to point out that she called Eastwood “daddy” in their relationship, as a final blow to her reputation. There is no reason to include that except to try to shame Locke and smear her name by framing her through her abusive relationship with Eastwood.

Worse, Locke alleged that Eastwood shut her out of her deal to direct with Warner Bros., harming her career even more. Following the settlement, Locke only appeared in three films and executive produced one. We may never know what her career would have looked like had Eastwood and Warner Bros. not actively sabotaged her ability to work.

Locke was an Oscar-nominated actress; that should have been the easy lede. Instead, her relationship becomes the story, because how else are we going to define a woman except through her romantic relationships with men?

Jezebel has an excellent writeup of Locke and Eastwood’s relationship and why The Hollywood Reporter’s obituary is nonsense, saying,

“Locke only directed four films, two of which were released by Eastwood’s studio Warner Bros. around the time she was suing him. And you have to wonder what could have come of her career if it weren’t for the alleged bogus deal Eastwood set up with her or their legal disputes constantly overshadowing her attempt at a directing career.

“Sondra Locke’s death should be a chance to look back on her life and recognize, in 2018, all that the press missed, and what we still miss when we cover the lives of women overshadowed by powerful men. The press in the 1980s and ’90s chose to frame her relationship with Eastwood not as an abuse of power, but gossipy tabloid fare, with her at fault for the destruction of her career. And considering The Hollywood Reporter’s account of her life, it’s clear that we haven’t moved beyond that framing.”

This is a heartbreaking story. Women are more than the toxic men in their lives, and should be remembered on their own merit rather than just based on their relationships. Locke’s story and subsequent coverage are heartbreaking reminders of how far we have to go still in terms of giving women their due.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: Warner Bros/Twitter)

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Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.