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Who Is Robert Redford





Born on August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, California, Robert Redford has proved to be one of the great talents in American film, starring in classics such as The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Candidate and The Way We Were.




Redford also helped start the Sundance Film Festival, which has grown into one of the movie industry’s most prestigious events and a great boon for indie filmmakers. The actor has also moved successfully into producing and directing, winning an Oscar for Ordinary People and receiving both directing and best picture nods for Quiz Show.



Early Life

Born Charles Robert Redford Jr. on August 18, 1936, in a multicultural neighborhood in Santa Monica, California, actor and director Robert Redford has proven to be one of the great talents in American film. He is equally at home behind the scenes as he is in front of the cameras. In addition to his own career, Redford has helped advance others in his field through the Sundance Institute and its related film festival.



Redford’s father was a milk man who later worked as an oil company accountant, while his outgoing mother had a passion for literature and films.



Taking after his uncle, Redford excelled at sports during his youth, running track and playing tennis and football while also having a robust romantic life. In other arenas, however, Redford said he floundered.


“Actually, I was a failure at everything I tried. I worked as a box boy at a supermarket and got fired. Then my dad got me a job at Standard Oil—fired again,” he explained to Success magazine in 1980. Redford said he also had a few run-ins with the law for purloining hubcaps and sneaking onto other people’s property to use their pools.



In 1954, Redford graduated from Van Nuys High School. But his mother died in 1955 from septicemia, and a deeply grieving Redford felt lost emotionally.


Artist’s Life Abroad

Redford won a baseball scholarship to the University of Colorado, but he did not distinguish himself as an athlete there. Instead, “I became the campus drunk and blew out before I could ever get going,” he told People magazine in a 1998 interview. Some reports say he dropped out, while others say that Redford was expelled from the university. In either case, he soon decided to move to Europe and become an artist.


His time overseas was an eye-opening experience for the young Redford, who lived the life of a bohemian and learned about art, culture and international affairs. Redford’s interactions with students in Paris proved to be very significant.



“We all lived in a kind of communal way and I was challenged politically. I didn’t have a clue,” he said in a 2007 New Statesman article. “They would ask me questions—the Algerian War was going on, it was very big in France at the time, this was the late 1950s—I was humiliated. I was ashamed that I didn’t know much about my country’s politics. When I returned to America a year and a half later, I was much more focused on my country culturally and politically.”

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