On this date in 1936, Charles Robert Redford Jr. — who would become an iconic actor, director, producer, environmentalist, entrepreneur and philanthropist — was born in Santa Monica, Calif., to Martha (Hart) and Charles Robert Redford. "Growing up in a working-class world in Los Angeles, I had no luxuries or entertainment. I was ashamed to have people come to our house," he told Playboy (November 2007 interview). He had some youthful run-ins, which lost him a college baseball scholarship at the University of Colorado in 1957. He spent about a year traveling and doing temporary jobs. As a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York, he made his stage debut in the comedy "Tall Story." His movie debut was "War Hunt" (1962). He starred in "Barefoot in the Park" on Broadway in 1962, finding fame after reprising that role on screen. Playing "The Sundance Kid" in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) was considered his breakthrough, also bringing him a life-long friendship with Paul Newman. This was followed by "The Way We Were" (1973), "The Sting" (1973) and "All the President's Men" (1976), based on the Watergate expose he had had the moxie to option. Other memorable roles include "This Property Is Condemned" (1966), "Downhill Racer" (1969), "The Candidate" (1972) and "Three Days of the Condor" (1975).
He has also directed a number of films, including "Ordinary People" (1980), which won him a directorial Academy Award, "A River Runs Through It" (1992), "Quiz Show" (1994), "The Horse Whisperer," "The Conspirator" (2011) and "The Company You Keep" (2012). Recent movies include "All is Lost" (2013), in which he was the sole performer, and a turn as Bill Bryson in "A Walk in the Woods" (2015).
Redford has used his celebrity to further environmental and progressive causes, founding the Sundance Film Festival and the Sundance Film Institute in Utah for independent filmmakers, as well as Sundance Cinemas. He married Lola Van Wagenen in 1958, which ended in divorce in 1985. Their children are Amy (1970), James (1962), Shauna (1960) and Scott (1959, who died shortly after birth). Redford married German painter Sibylle Szaggars in 2009. His honors include an award from the Kennedy Center (2005), The American National Medal of Arts (1969) and the 2002 Oscars lifetime achievement award.
Photo by U.S. Embassy photographer JP Evans in the Public Domain
Playboy: Do you believe in an afterlife?
Redford: I'm not sure I do. I've explored every religion, some very deeply, enough to know there's not one philosophy that can satisfy me. Problems can't be solved with one way of thinking. If anything is my guide, nature is. That's where my spirituality is. I don't believe in organized religion, because I don't believe people should be organized in how they think, in what they believe. That has never been driven home as hard as with the [Bush] administration. When somebody thinks God speaks to him, you've got trouble. If God is speaking to the president, he's speaking with a forked tongue, because the behavior of this administration doesn't seem very godlike or spiritual.. . . Is there an afterlife? As far as I know, this is it. It's all we’ve got. You take your opportunities and you go for it.
—Robert Redford, Playboy Magazine, November 2007
Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor
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