LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actress and director Sondra Locke, a Tennessee native nominated for an Academy Award for her first film role in 1968’s “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” who went on to co-star in six films with Clint Eastwood, has died.
Locke died Nov. 3 at her Los Angeles home of cardiac arrest stemming from breast and bone cancer, according to a death certificate obtained by The Associated Press. She was 74. Authorities were promptly notified at the time, but her death was not publicized until RadarOnline first reported it Thursday. It is not clear why it took nearly six weeks to come to light.
Locke was best known for the six films she made with Eastwood – whom she dated for 13 years – starting with the Western “The Outlaw Josey Wales” in 1976 and ending with the Dirty Harry movie “Sudden Impact” in 1983.
Born Sandra Louise Smith – she would later take on a stepfather’s last name and take on the stage name Sondra. She grew up Shelbyville, Tenn., where her stepfather owned a construction company.
Locke was a cheerleader and class valedictorian in junior high and attended Shelbyville Central Senior High School, where she was again valedictorian and voted “Duchess of Studiousness” by classmates, graduating in 1962.
She later enrolled at (but did not graduate from) Middle Tennessee State University, majoring in Drama. Later, Locke worked in the promotions department for WSM-TV in Nashville when she lived there for approximately three years and modeled for The Tennessean fashion page.
She appeared in a handful of plays before winning a nationwide talent search in 1967 to be cast opposite leading man Alan Arkin in the movie adaptation of Carson McCullers’ 1940 novel “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.”
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