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Locke's book tells `The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly'

Actress-director Sondra Locke insists that the title of her book, "The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly," is not merely a play on the title of one of Clint Eastwood's early spaghetti Westerns."It was also applicable to the story," she says of the book that details her life with the actor-director. "I try to cover the good years as well as the bad and the ugly. Also, that in even the worst ugly things there can sometimes be a lot that will make you a better person."

Locke, 50, has survived two abortions and a tubal ligation (at Eastwood's behest, she says); sudden rejection after 13 years by her mentor and lover; bruising court battles; double mastectomies and painful chemotherapy.

The early part of the book, published by William Morrow, tells of the good that has befallen her as well: how she was chosen from her hometown of Shelbyville, Tenn., for her film debut in "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter," which earned her a 1968 Academy Award nomination as supporting actress; her early marriage to high school sweetheart Gordon Anderson, a homosexual who remains a close friend.

The years with Eastwood were surrounded by the glamour of attending dinner in the Reagan White House and co-starring in six of Eastwood's films, from "The Outlaw Josey Wales" to "Sudden Impact."

And she had the artistic satisfaction of directing two films, "Ratboy" and "Impulsive," which were well received by critics if not the public.

Locke spoke from Houston, where she was in the middle of a book promotion tour. She believes readers may be surprised by the book.

"They're automatically going to think it's a tell-all book about Clint," she remarked. "It isn't. It's about standing up against a lot of power and finding your own voice. I tried to write it in a novelistic style, rather than just present a series of events."

Joe Hyams, Warner Bros. executive and longtime associate of Eastwood's, said there would be no comment on the book.

Locke writes of how the romance began, when they returned to her hotel room after their first dinner date on the location of "The Outlaw Josey Wales":

"He pulled me into his arms and kissed me gently, delicately. Then lifting me up, like some knight bearing his maiden, he carried me across the room to the bed. Physically I thought he was the most gorgeous man I had ever seen - his heroic face, his tall, lithe, muscular body.

"And in spite of his size and power, he was a gentle, affectionate, thoughtful and yet intensely ardent lover. . . . We made love that night, not once, but several times. It was truly magic."

The magic continued for more than a decade. Then, she writes, the bad set in. She discovered that the locks had been changed on the house she had lovingly redecorated and which she believed was a gift from Clint. All of her belongings had been packaged and removed.

Thus began a period of accusations, recriminations and legal maneuverings that ended in a settlement, with Warner Bros. agreeing to hire her to direct movies.

"Now that they were paying me $1.5 million in an Eastwood-orchestrated deal, not one executive would approve one single story for me to work on. Apparently they preferred to pay me just to sit there and do nothing, which would destroy me professionally as well as emotionally," she writes.

In 1992, she discovered that "Clint had been paying for my Warner Bros. deal." She sued both Eastwood and the studio for fraud. The Eastwood suit was settled for an undisclosed amount while the jury was still deliberating. The Warner Bros. suit is due for trial next year.

"One of the reasons I wrote the book," Locke said, "is because he put out such carefully constructed propaganda to mischaracterize me. I finally decided I was going to tell my story. Irrelevant to what he has tried to make people believe, I have never spoken about anything before this.

"Also, I wanted people to know just who I am and what I'm all about and what actually happened. And to remind people that I had a life before Clint and I intend to have one after."

She said she is gradually rebuilding her career. She is preparing to direct a movie for Showtime early next year and is mulling a return to her acting career.