Respectfully yours, Clint Eastwood

On October 26th, 1954, 24-year-old aspiring actor Clint Eastwood — yet to make his debut on the big screen — penned the following extremely polite letter to Billy Wilder and warned the director of his poor performance during an on-screen interview; footage he feared Wilder would use in lieu of a screen test. The week previous, Wilder had agreed to meet Eastwood on the recommendation of fellow director Arthur Lubin with a view to possibly using him in his forthcoming movie, The Spirit of St. Louis, a biographical feature film based on the life of aviator Charles Lindbergh.

As we now know, James Stewart was eventually given the part, and Eastwood found another route to success.

Transcript follows.

(Source: Geoff Harding; Image: Clint Eastwood, via.)


Tuesday, October 26, 1954

Dear Mr. Wilder,

Thank you for taking your time to see me last Tuesday when Mr. Arthur Lubin was kind enough to introduce us on your set. Mr. Solly Baiano of Warner Brothers seemed quite enthusiastic about my possibilities for the Lindbergh role, when he met me here at Universal where I am under contract.

I was concerned when you mentioned to Mr. Lubin that you would like to see a test. The only one Universal has made was one of those difficult interviews in which I felt I was not very good, even though I was given a contract on the strength of it. When the time comes for casting, I would appreciate so much your letting me talk with you rather than seeing this test, for I have improved in every way since that time. I feel the qualities you might be seeking can better be found in a personal interview.

Again, may I thank you and trust I did not take too much of your time. I now look forward to our next meeting.

Respectfully yours,

Clint Eastwood

4020 Arch Drive
North Hollywood