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Clint Eastwood: How The Western Icon Became the Lead Actor in ‘Rawhide’

Clint Eastwood: How The Western Icon Became the Lead Actor in ‘Rawhide’

Clint Eastwood received quite a boost from CBS when the network tinkered with the casting of Rawhide before its final season. Before this, Eric Fleming played trail boss Gil Favor for seven seasons. Not anymore. Fleming was replaced in the lead role by Eastwood. But why?

Because CBS felt like Rawhide needed some fresh faces in it. Raymond St. Jacques and David Watson joined the cast too. So, going into Rawhide’s eighth and final season, it is Rowdy Yates at the helm,

Yates had been presented as a rough, tough cowboy in Rawhide. Now, he has to use some other skills to keep the trail ride going forward. Eastwood, in later interviews, said that he didn’t enjoy his time on Rawhide.

Clint Eastwood Gained Experience on ‘Rawhide’

But he gained so much experience from those days that it probably gave him a step ahead of others. Working on a television show is much different than movies. Still, the work and effort Eastwood put into playing Rowdy let him see that anything an actor wants to do can be done.

Rawhide aired on CBS at a time when Western series dominated the TV landscape. So, it faced stiff competition in the ratings war. But that didn’t mean the show didn’t need tweaks. It did and it received them in due time.

As for Eastwood, this marked the first time that he’d been in a lead role. Rowdy was impetuous and young, so he sometimes walked around with a chip on his shoulder. Being a trail boss, though, called for a more reasoned viewpoint. CBS

Rawhide did not get past Season 8. All the tweaking to the show didn’t help the ratings much. So, the show ended and it freed Eastwood up to go into movies full-time.

Eastwood Learned Things From Different Directors

What did Eastwood learn from his time on the show? “I took from everyone I worked with of course—from Sergio Leone and Don Siegel, and all the directors on the TV series ‘Rawhide’ (1959–66),” he said. “You see different people approaching things differently and you can tell when they have a certain amount of knowledge or when they’re faking it.”

It was his work with Sergio Leone on the “Spaghetti Western” trio of movies that helped put him on the movie scene. What’s interesting to note is that Eastwood has not returned full-time to TV work since Rawhide. He seems to have found his rhythm in the movie world.

But he had made a name for himself thanks to Rawhide. People can see Rawhide episodes these days on the Pluto TV streaming platform. It has its very own channel on there.