All-time Icons of Cinema - Robert Redford
Actor, director and mainstream political activist Robert Redford was born on August 18, 1936 inSanta Monica, California. Over the course of his long career, Redford has become increasinglygenerous with his charitable donations, and also increasingly political, famously standingdirectly against the latter Bush administration.Redford was born Charles Robert Redford, Jr. and was an extremely talented baseball playerwhen he was young. In fact, Redford landed a baseball scholarship and played at the Universityof Colorado in Boulder in 1955. Robert was one of the top college prospects in the nation untilhis mother died suddenly, leaving Robert shattered.After being kicked off of the baseball team for drinking and an overall lack of performance,Redford set his sights on becoming a painter. He took a job at a Los Angeles oil field solely tofund his ambitions of moving to Paris and attending art school. He ended up studying with artistsin Italy, but by 1958, Redford grew bored of the life.Redford met a young Mormon student named Lolo Jean Van Wagenen. She convinced him toquit drinking, and the couple married and moved to New York so Robert could once again
follow his dreams of being an artist. At the same time, he also started attending classes at theAmerican Academy of Dramatic Arts.After being noticed by a Broadway stage manager, Redford was asked to perform a small part ina 1959 production titled Tall Story. Over the course of the next few years, Robert was a regularfixture on the Broadway scene and even appeared in some TV, like the Twilight Zone and Route66.Like with baseball and art before it, Redford eventually grew tired of the day-to-day life of astage actor. He put his focus entirely on motion pictures, but after experiencing very moderatesuccess, he again traveled to Europe to focus more on his life. He had made a total of five filmsto this point and earned a Golden Globe for the most promising male newcomer.After returning to Hollywood in 1967, Redford starred in a film version of a play he had done,Barefoot in the Park, alongside Jane Fonda.This is the film that made him famous, and after the
film studio hesitantly put him alongside Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,
Redford was dubbed Hollywood’s new golden boy.
Redford was considered for the part of Michael Corleone in The Godfather, but was declined. Hedid end up working with Francis Ford Coppola, however, in The Great Gatsby. Redford wouldstar in a slue of hit movies throughout the 1970s, but he backed off in the 80s and focused moreon directing.After winning an Academy Award for his directorial marvel Ordinary People, Redford tried out
his acting chops again in 1984’s instant sport classic The Natural, where he played an old
baseball player with an uncanny ability to hit homeruns.