Sad news about the beloved actor Robert Redford

Robert Redford, one of Hollywood’s remaining Golden Age icons, is still active in his eighties. Despite a six-decade career in which he’s won Academy Awards as a filmmaker and actor, created Sundance, and received a Presidential Medal of Freedom, little is known about Redford.

Like many of his peers, the Californian has always kept his private life private. Thus, you may not know that the star of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, and All the President’s Men and director of Ordinary People, Quiz Show, and The Horse Whisperer has suffered tragedy offscreen.

Before appearing in 1960’s Tall Story, Redford had endured more trials than most do in a lifetime. His following years haven’t been much better, either. 11, which shows that being an award-winning movie celebrity doesn’t make you immune to troubles, covers childhood illnesses, near-death experiences, marriage breakups, and multiple painful losses.

Robert Redford collaborated with Michael Feeney Callan on a book about his life in 2011. The actor’s childhood polio was one of several surprising revelations.

Even while it wasn’t serious, the future Hollywood star had to spend several weeks in bed at 11 after overexerting himself during an ocean swim. “Before the Salk vaccine was found, what hung over your youth was always the terror of polio because all you saw were people in iron lungs,” he told NPR.

In a 2014 short film, Redford honored Jonas Salk, the scientist who developed a vaccine for the disease. The Oscar winner directed the 3D documentary Cathedrals of Culture about San Diego’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies. “I was around when the polio outbreak was still a concern… so when Jonas Salk invented the vaccine, it was just earth-shattering news,” he told Express in 2014.

Robert Redford was a teen runaway? That’s right—the now-famous actor was a street gang member in Van Nuys during high school. Boys did dangerous dares every day. One nearly killed Redford.

The gang dared the future Oscar winner to jump off a high building to prove he wasn’t a coward. According to Robert Redford: The Biography (2011), “Early fear-fighting… I saw two options. Fears may control you or help you.”

Young Redford was allowed to continue wreaking havoc on the gang after proving his manliness and just avoiding fracturing every bone. Their major pastime was stealing alcohol from surrounding stores. At 16, the star was caught for possessing stolen jewelry, ending his criminal career.

Robert Redford’s touching homage to his mother at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival’s Utah Women’s Leadership Celebration had attendees in tears (Closer Weekly). Hemorrhage killed Martha Redford at 40 in 1955. Her blood problem from her twin daughters’ stillbirth eight years earlier caused her death.

The Hollywood star told Closer Weekly that he didn’t make his mother’s life easy as a teen, but she always supported him. “She just believed that all things considered, I had something in me that was going to come out okay.” Martha died five years before her son’s movie debut.

Robert continued to laud his mom’s smile, adventurous enthusiasm, and cheerful outlook. He told a star-studded crowd, including his longtime friend Jane Fonda, that he regretted not appreciating her more: “I took her for granted because kids were like that. I regret not thanking her before she died.”

When his uncle, who had been a second father to him, died, Robert Redford first encountered grief. Due to his long and unsociable milkman hours, the actor rarely saw his father Charles.

As a result, young Robert became close to his Uncle David, an all-American all-rounder who could play football and speak four languages. They practiced tossing on the football field.

When General Patton’s Third Army recruited his uncle into World War II, Robert lost his father again. He never returned. David died in 1945 when his Jeep got captured in a Luxembourg bridge crossfire. Redford told NPR, “The family’s response was never discussed. It happened without questioning. It was. That was probably in the familial structure… Everyone moved on.”

After a police encounter in his late teens, Robert Redford may have left crime. He wasn’t ready to join society. The future star was a party boy at CU.

“Redford had become beloved in the drinking circles but was known as a loose cannon,” said Michael Callan Feeney in Robert Redford: The Biography (2011). The author doesn’t describe Redford’s Kappa Sigma experiences. He was expelled from college after 18 months, so it wasn’t pretty.

Redford’s education continued. After losing his scholarship, he studied painting in Florence, Paris, and New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts. The University of Colorado later accepted two of Redford’s children, Shauna and Jamie.

Robert Redford was doing well in the 1950s. After marrying Lola Van Wagenen, he made his Broadway debut in Tall Story and had his first child, Scott.

In November 1959, ten-week-old Scott died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, shattering his world. Redford, who blamed himself for not checking on the baby earlier, was devastated. It took him over 50 years to talk about his sadness.

Mirror quoted the Out of Africa star as saying, “Tough. Young. First theater job, low salary. Parents blame themselves because we didn’t know about SIDS. It scars forever.”

Robert Redford faced the possibility of losing his second son three years after Scott’s sad death. He also risked his wife Lola’s life.

David James Redford was born prematurely with the same illness that killed Patrick Kennedy in 1962. Hyaline Membrane Disease gave the infant a 40% chance of survival, according to biographer Michael Feeney Callan’s book Robert Redford: The Biography. Luckily, the child and his mother survived. “It was huge,” Robert said.

In a 1998 People interview, the Oscar winner mentioned his children’s struggles. “I’m considered lucky. That’s tough. False. Problems with your kids are the worst. For my family’s sake, no one knows about the multiple hits on our family.”

In 1983, tragedy struck Robert Redford’s daughter again. Shauna Redford’s journalism student boyfriend Sid Wells was fatally shot in the back of the head at his University of Colorado apartment in an unsolved mystery.

His roommate Thayne Smika, who was supposed to pay rent that day, was the main suspect in the terrible murder. Smika was detained, but a grand jury didn’t indict him. He’s been missing since 1986! That year, Smika’s car was abandoned in Beverly Hills, suggesting he fled America.

New evidence for a case review in 2010 complicated the plot. Boulder County’s district attorney approved an arrest affidavit. Smika remains at large despite age-progressed mugshots and increased efforts to find him. “It’s like a slightly opened door with a really dark room behind it,” Redford told Star Tribune in 1997 after attending Wells’ burial.

Robert Redford may have owed his breakout Golden Globe-winning role as closeted film star Wade Lewis in Inside Daisy Clover to Natalie Wood. The actress, who was much heavier at the time, reportedly recommended the man she met in high school to Warner Bros. for the 1965 drama. This Property Is Condemned would feature the close friends a year later.

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