Robert Redford paved his way to becoming one of the biggest Hollywood icons right after landing his first major role in 1962’s classic war movie, War Hunt. Best known for his roles in blockbuster movies like Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, Downhill Racer, Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, and ‘The Sting’, Robert has proven his excellence in a wide variety of characters throughout the decades.
The actor’s appealing looks, successful career in acting, screenwriting, producing & directing has marked his strong presence in the entertainment world. Robert, who celebrated his 82nd birthday on August 18, is undeniably one of the greatest actors ever.
He has enjoyed an immensely successful career for decades and is still in action. However, after nearly 60 years in the industry and accumulating a colossal net worth of $170 million, he announced recently his intent to retire from acting after his final movie, The Old Man and the Gun, which is scheduled to premiere on September 28.
Today we bring you some lesser known facts about this living legend of Hollywood.
#5. Battled Polio as a Child
In 2014, Robert Redford along with 6 other directors released a short 3D documentary, Cathedrals of Culture, which is part of a six-part series about iconic buildings called Cathedrals of Culture. In his part, The Salk Institute, Redford admits that his struggles with the disease in his childhood days inspired him to work on the project. The Salk Institute is the name of institute of biological research in San Diego, where the vaccination for polio was discovered by Jonas Salk in 1960.
Robert opened about his experience in an interview,
“I was around when the polio epidemic was still a threat. You could get it. I had a mild case of it myself when I was 11 years old, and fortunately, it was mild enough not to cause me any real damage.”
#4. Terrible at School
Robert has described himself as being a "bad" student in school, who was more interested in activities outside the classroom like sports and arts rather than his studies. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1980, Robert said,
“All I could think about was how to get myself out, once I was in, without relying on the bell ringing. Having to go to the bathroom, having a stomachache, forgetting to call home — I used them all. Then usually all I’d do is walk around the yard a little and then go back in.”
#3. His Father was a Milkman
Before his father, Charles Robert Redford Sr, became an accountant for an oil company, he had worked as a milkman to support his family. Robert’s son, James Redford, told how his grandfather fought his way through “The Great Depression” to become a wealthy accountant.
“My grandfather was a lovely man. During the depression when things were really rough, he worked as a truck driver for a dairy. If it wasn’t for my dad’s story, the big success story in our family would be my grandfather. He went on and got his accounting degree and retired as a top account executive. He had quite an amazing journey throughout his whole life.”
#2. Lost his First Child
Just a few months after his marriage with Lola Van Wagenen in Vegas, the couple welcomed their first baby boy, Scott. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when they lost their five months old son to sudden infant death syndrome. Robert opened up about his gruesome experience after Michael Feeney Callan released his biography, Robert Redford: The Biography, in 2011. He said, “We were very young. I had my first theater job, which didn’t pay much. We didn’t know anything about SIDS, so the only thing you think is that you’ve done something wrong. As a parent, you tend to blame yourself. That creates a scar that probably never completely heals.”
#1. Won an Oscar from his Directorial Debut
Redford has won two Academy Awards but neither were for acting. He won his first Oscar in 1980 for directing Ordinary People, which earned Academy Awards for both Best Picture and Best Director. Star of the movie, Timothy Hutton, won the award for Best Supporting Actor and Alvin Sargent picked up an Oscar for Best Screenplay. In 2002, he received his second honorary Oscar for Life Achievement. Apart from Oscars, he has received numerous accolades, including three Golden Globes, a BAFTA, a Screen Actors Guild Award and more.
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