Clint Eastwood Talks Near Death Experience When Plane Crashed in 1950s

Clint Eastwood revealed he had a near death experience in the 1950s while he was doing his military service, and the plane he was in crashed.

During an interview for the Loyola Marymount University School of Film & TV, where he participated in the famous Hollywood Masters interview series on March 11, Eastwood talked about the unknown incident. Speaking to students, the American Sniper director discussed what he was thinking during the terrifying moments all those years ago when he hitched a ride on a military plane.

“What was going through my mind was just a stark fear, a stark terror, because (in the) first place, I didn’t know anything about aviation at that particular time — I was just hopping a ride.”

“In those days, you could wear your uniform and get a free flight. On the way back, they had one plane, a Douglas AD, sort of a torpedo bomber of the World War II vintage, and I thought I’d hitch on that. Everything went wrong. Radios went out. Oxygen ran out. And finally we ran out of fuel up around Point Reyes, California, and went in the ocean. So we went swimming. It was late October, November. Very cold water. (I) found out many years later that it was a white shark breeding ground, but I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time or I’d have just died.”

In 1950, Clint Eastwood was about 20-years-old and not the movie star that we know now. His career didn’t begin until 1954, when he signed a $100 contract ($878 today) with Universal. The Hollywood Masters series is moderated by Stephen Galloway, who is also editor of The Hollywood Reporter, which published the news exclusively.

When asked by Galloway if he was afraid to die, Clint Eastwood responded in his typical straightforward way.

“No, I just…Yeah, I just thought in the back of my mind I was well some people have made through these things so maybe we’ll have a luck and when we hit the water and the water felt much more comfortable because in the air the sound of the engine not running was very disconcerting.”

Acting wouldn’t come until later for Clint Eastwood, which he did reluctantly after someone suggested to him taking evening lessons. His family was of modest origins and he couldn’t have envisioned what his future had in store for him. His parents had mixed reactions when he finally got the job.

“My mother thought it was great, my father said get a real job. He says you know stay in school, get a real job and I should have,” Clint Eastwood said. Luckily for movie lovers, Clint didn’t go back to school, and he became one of the most famous Hollywood success stories.

[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]