Robert Redford, born in 1936, American actor, director, and producer, known for his intelligence, striking appearance, and commercial success. He was born Charles Robert Redford in Santa Monica, California, and educated at the University of Colorado, Pratt Institute, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Redford first acted on Broadway in Tall Story (1959). He then appeared on stage in The Highest Tree (1959); Little Moon of Alban (1960); Sunday in New York (1961-1962), his first starring role; and Barefoot in the Park (1963-1964). During this period his television roles included guest appearances on several series, including Naked City (1958-1963), Route 66 (1960-1964), Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1965), and The Twilight Zone (1959-1964).
Robert Redford made his motion-picture debut in War Hunt (1962). His next four films—Situation Hopeless—But Not Serious (1965), Inside Daisy Clover (1965), The Chase (1966), and This Property Is Condemned (1966)—were critical and financial failures. His first hit film came when he reprised his stage role in Barefoot in the Park (1967), and a number of other highly successful films soon followed. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) featured Paul Newman and Redford as two bandits on the run from the law. Downhill Racer (1969) was about a rebellious ski racer. The Candidate (1972) concerned a young lawyer running for political office in California. In Jeremiah Johnson (1972), Redford played a mountain man in the American West.
Robert Redford continued searching out different types of roles in the mid-1970s, costarring with Barbra Streisand in the love story The Way We Were (1973), and appearing again with Newman in The Sting (1973), about two Chicago con men. Three Days of the Condor (1975) had Redford as an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), being pursued by unknown enemies. All the President’s Men (1976) told the story of Bob Woodward (Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), the two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story. Several Redford films were adaptations of famous novels: The Great Gatsby (1974; from the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald), The Natural (1984; Bernard Malamud), and Out of Africa (1985; Isak Dinesen). Other films include Sneakers (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993), Up Close and Personal (1996), and Spy Game (2001). After he established himself as an actor, Redford served as executive producer of a number of films, including Downhill Racer, The Candidate, and All the President’s Men.
In the 1980s Robert Redford began to explore other interests, and his first directorial effort, Ordinary People (1980), won him an Academy Award for best director. In 1981 he established the Sundance Institute, a nonprofit organization offering a permanent workshop for aspiring directors and supporting an annual festival—the Sundance Film Festival—that screens the work of young independent filmmakers. As independent film became more popular and influential during the mid- and late 1990s, Sundance became one of the most important festivals in the motion-picture industry. Redford continued his career as a director with The Milagro Beanfield War (1988; which he also produced), A River Runs Through It (1992), and Quiz Show (1994), which was voted best film of 1994 by the New York Film Critics Circle. In 1998 he directed, produced, and starred in The Horse Whisperer; in 2000 he directed and produced The Legend of Bagger Vance; and in 2007 he directed, produced, and acted in the political drama Lions for Lambs. In addition, Redford produced and narrated the documentary Incident at Oglala (1992). He also has been active in promoting environmental causes.
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