Surprise guest at Republican convention: Clint Eastwood

Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:08pm EDT

Actor Clint Eastwood attends the trophy ceremony for the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach, California, February 12, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Actor Clint Eastwood attends the trophy ceremony for the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach, California, February 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

(Reuters) - "Dirty Harry" star Clint Eastwood will bring a touch of Hollywood glamour to the Republican National Convention on Thursday, jetting in as a surprise last-minute speaker to warm up the crowd for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to a Republican official.

The Academy Award-winning director and actor endorsed Romney earlier this month, appearing at a fundraiser for him in Idaho.

Eastwood, 82, was reluctantly drawn into the 2012 campaign earlier this year when an ad by Chrysler, titled "Halftime in America" and narrated by Eastwood, ran during halftime of the Super Bowl.

Many people thought it might have been an endorsement of President Barack Obama by Eastwood because Chrysler had received a government bailout.

At the time, Eastwood, who had served as mayor of Carmel, California, in the 1980s, said flatly that he was not endorsing either candidate, telling Fox he was "certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama."

As organizers prepared for the last night of the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, speculation about the identity of a mystery speaker was feverish through Wednesday and Thursday.

Rumors that it would be Eastwood were fueled when the music for his classic western, "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," was played over the sound system in the arena during sound tests.

A Republican official later ended the mystery, confirming Eastwood will speak shortly before Romney, who will officially accept the Republican nomination later Thursday night.

(Reporting by Claudia Parsons; Editing by Jim Loney and Leslie Adler)