Charles Robert Redford Jr. (born August 18, 1936) is an American actor, director, and activist. He is the recipient of various accolades, including two Academy Awards, a British Academy Film Award, two Golden Globe Awards, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2014, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Appearing on stage in the late 1950s, Redford's television career began in 1960. He earned an Emmy nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Voice of Charlie Pont (1962). His greatest Broadway success was in Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park (1963). Redford made his film debut in War Hunt (1962). He starred with Natalie Wood in Inside Daisy Clover (1965) which won him a Golden Globe for the best new star. He starred alongside Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), which was a huge success and made him a major star. In 1973 he had the greatest hit of his career, the blockbuster crime caper The Sting, a reunion with Paul Newman, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award; that same year, he also starred opposite Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were. The popular and acclaimed All the President's Men (1976) was a landmark film for Redford.
In the 1980s, Redford began his career as a director with Ordinary People (1980), which was one of the most critically and publicly acclaimed films of the decade, winning four Oscars including Best Picture and the Academy Award for Best Director for Redford. He continued acting, playing the male lead in Out of Africa (1985), which was an enormous box office success and won seven Oscars including Best Picture. He received a second Academy Award—for Lifetime Achievement—in 2002. In 2010, he was made a chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur. Redford is also one of the founders of the Sundance Film Festival.
Robert Redford was born on August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, California, to Martha Hart (1914–1955) and Charles Robert Redford (1914–1991), an accountant and milkman. Redford is of English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry.
Redford's family moved to Van Nuys, Los Angeles, while his father worked in El Segundo. Robert attended Van Nuys High School. He has described himself as having been a "bad" student, finding inspiration outside the classroom, and being interested in art and sports.
After graduating from high school in 1954, he attended the University of Colorado Boulder in Boulder, Colorado for a year and a half, but was kicked out of school because of his heavy drinking. He went on to travel in Europe, living in France, Spain, and Italy. He later studied painting at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and took classes at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (Class of 1959) in New York City.
On August 9, 1958, in Las Vegas, Nevada, Redford married Lola Van Wagenen, who dropped out of college to marry him. A Mormon ceremony took place on September 12 at Lola's grandmother's home. They had four children: Scott Anthony Redford (September 1, 1959 – November 17, 1959), Shauna Jean Redford (born November 15, 1960), David James Redford (May 5, 1962 – October 16, 2020), and Amy Hart Redford (born October 22, 1970).
Robert Redford's career, like that of many major stars who emerged in the 1950s, began in New York City, where an actor found work both on stage and in television. His Broadway debut was in a small role in Tall Story (1959), followed by parts in The Highest Tree (1959) and Sunday in New York (1961). His biggest Broadway success was as the stuffy newlywed husband of Elizabeth Ashley in the original 1963 cast of Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park.
Starting in 1960, Redford appeared as a guest star on numerous television drama programs, such as Naked City, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Route 66, The Twilight Zone, etc.
Redford earned an Emmy nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Voice of Charlie Pont (ABC, 1962). One of his last television appearances until 2019 was on October 7, 1963, on Breaking Point, an ABC medical drama about psychiatry.
Robert Redford made his screen debut in Tall Story (1960) in a minor role. After his Broadway success, he was cast in larger feature roles in movies.
In Inside Daisy Clover (1965), which won him a Golden Globe for best new star, he played a bisexual movie star who marries starlet Natalie Wood.
After this initial success, Redford became concerned about his blond male stereotype image and turned down roles in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Graduate. Redford found the niche he was looking for in George Roy Hill's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), scripted by William Goldman, in which he was paired for the first time with Paul Newman. The film was a huge success and made him a major bankable star, cementing his screen image as an intelligent, reliable, sometimes sardonic good guy. He won a British Academy of Film and Television Award (BAFTA) for that role.
Starting in 1973, Redford experienced an almost-unparalleled four-year run of box office success. The western Jeremiah Johnson's (1972) box office earnings from early 1973 until its second re-release in 1975 would have placed it as the No. 2 highest-grossing film of 1973. The romantic period drama with Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were (1973), was the 11th highest-grossing film of 1973. The crime caper reunion with Paul Newman, The Sting (1973), became the top-grossing film of 1974 and one of the top 20 highest-grossing movies of all time when adjusted for inflation, plus landed Redford the lone nomination of his career for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The romantic drama The Great Gatsby (1974) was the No. 8 highest-grossing film of 1974. As well, 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid placed as the No. 10 highest-grossing film for 1974 as it was re-released due to the popularity of The Sting.
In 1974 Redford became the first performer since Bing Crosby in 1946 to have three films in a year's top ten grossing titles. Each year between 1974 and 1976, movie exhibitors voted Redford Hollywood's top box-office star. In 1976 he co-starred with Dustin Hoffman in the No. 2 highest-grossing film for the year, the critically acclaimed All the President's Men. In 1975, 1977 and 1978, Redford won the Golden Globe for Favourite World Film Star, a popularity-based award that is no longer awarded.
All the President's Men (1976), in which Redford and Hoffman play Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, was a landmark film for Redford. Not only was he the executive producer and co-star, but the film's serious subject matter—the Watergate scandal—and its attempt to create a realistic portrayal of journalism also reflected the actor's offscreen concerns for political causes. The film landed eight Academy Award nominations, including for Best Picture and Best Director (Alan J. Pakula), while winning for the Best Screenplay (Goldman). It actually won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Picture and Best Director.
In 1976, Robert Redford published The Outlaw Trail: A Journey Through Time. Redford states, "The Outlaw Trail. It was a name that fascinated me - a geographical anchor in Western folklore. Whether real or imagined, it was a name that, for me, held a kind of magic, a freedom, a mystery. I wanted to see it in much the same way as the outlaws did, by horse and by foot, and document the adventure with text and photographs."
Robert Redford had long harbored ambitions to work on both sides of the camera. As early as 1969, Redford had served as the executive producer for Downhill Racer. His first film as director was 1980's Best Picture winner Ordinary People, a drama about the slow disintegration of an upper-middle class family, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director.
Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa (1985), with Redford in the male lead role opposite Meryl Streep, became a large box office success (combined 1985 and 1986 grosses placed it at No. 5 for 1986), won a Golden Globe for Best Picture, and won seven Oscars, including Best Picture. Meryl Streep was nominated for Best Actress but Redford did not receive a nomination. The movie proved to be Redford's biggest success of the decade and Redford and Pollack's most successful of their seven movies together.
Redford did not direct again until The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), a well-crafted, though not commercially successful, screen version of John Nichols's acclaimed novel of the Southwest.
Redford continued as a major star throughout the 1990s and 2000s. He released his third film as a director, A River Runs Through It, in 1992, which was a return to mainstream success for Redford as a director and brought a young Brad Pitt to greater prominence. In 1993, Redford played what became one of his most popular and recognized roles, starring in Indecent Proposal as a millionaire businessman who tests a couple's morals; the film became one of the year's biggest hits.
In August 2018, Redford announced his retirement from acting but later regretted the decision.
With the financial proceeds of his acting success, starting with his salaries from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Downhill Racer, Redford bought an entire ski area on the east side of Mount Timpanogos northeast of Provo, Utah, called "Timp Haven", which was renamed "Sundance." The name Sundance comes from his Sundance Kid character. Redford's wife Lola was from Utah and they had built a home in the area in 1963. Portions of the movie Jeremiah Johnson (1972), a film which is both one of Redford's favorites and one that has heavily influenced him, was shot near the ski area.
Robert Redford founded nonprofit Sundance Institute in Park City, Utah, 30 miles (48 km) north of the Sundance ski area in 1981, and has been deeply involved with independent film since then. Through its various workshop programs and popular film festival, Sundance has provided much-needed support for independent filmmakers. In 1995, Redford signed a deal with Showtime to start a 24-hour cable television channel devoted to airing independent films. The Sundance Channel premiered on February 29, 1996.
Redford is also the President and co-Founder of Sundance Productions, with Laura Michalchyshyn, which produced films like Emmy nominee All The President's Men Revisited (Discovery), Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno Live!, and To Russia With Love on Epix.
The Sundance Film Festival caters to independent filmmakers in the United States and has received recognition from the industry as a place to open films. In 2008, Sundance exhibited 125 feature-length films from 34 countries, with more than 50,000 attendees.
Redford and Lola divorced in 1985. In the 1990s Sibylle Szaggars moved in with Redford into his home in Sundance, Utah. In July 2009, Redford Sibylle Szaggars married at the Louis C. Jacob Hotel in Hamburg, Germany.
In May 2011, Alfred A. Knopf published Robert Redford: The Biography by Michael Feeney Callan, written over fifteen years with Redford's input and drawn from his personal papers and diaries.